All You Need is a Dream & a Song

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It was August 1985.  I was 9 years old and I was visiting Disneyland for the first time.  Up to this point I had had a rather tumultuous childhood.  My parents were divorced and my Mom had remarried and they were trying desperately to blend a family.  The 6 of us children hadn’t really blended that well.  There was lots of fighting and arguments and hurt feelings.  It was nothing like the Brady Bunch, let me tell ya!

But then there was this one moment – and 30 years later I still remember it vividly.

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We were going to Disneyland, and that morning dawned hot and bright.  I remember standing in the line to get our tickets and arguing with one of my brothers about something trivial.  I remember passing through the turnstile and being so miffed that Mom was going to make us pose for another stupid photo in front of that famous Mickey-face flower patch.  I remember Mom and Dad gathering us all in a bunch and walking towards the arched-gateway to the park that stands underneath the train station.  This is the “magical” doorway into Disneyland.  And if you are a Disney fan worth your salt you know exactly what the plaque on that arched gateway says…

Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.

…that was the moment.

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We walked together, all 8 of us, side by side with our “buddies” (yep, our family was large enough that Mom instated the buddy system rule when we travelled) and passed under about 20 feet of concrete.  I remember emerging from the shadows of that small tunnel and then, blinking, stepping into the sun!

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Something magical happened in that tunnel.  Something transformative and surreal.  We entered that gateway a ragamuffin band of forced-blended-bitter-attitudes and we came out the other side a family.  I can’t even type this without crying…we danced down Main Street USA laughing and joking with each other.  We jostled for seats on rides and ate ice cream and watched our names be embroidered on Mickey Ear hats.  I can remember holding my step-brother Justin’s hand so tightly on Space Mountain because I was scared out of my mind…and he let me!  On Big Thunder Mountain he pried my fingers from the bar in front of us and encouraged me to toss my hands in the air with wild abandon.  And together with one voice on Pirates of the Caribbean we boldly yelled, “We wants the Red Head!”  (this shout truly is the Song of my People!)

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I am nearly 40 years old and I am Disney-crazed.  Most of my friends and family just don’t get why Disneyland specifically and Disney in general, mean so much to me.  Well, this is why –  on that visit the magic of Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust danced upon my very soul and left hidden Mickeys in their wake.

You know that grown-up, adult feeling you get when you stand in front of the mirror after dressing for work in the morning?  You look at yourself in that business suit and think, “Yep, today I am going to adult the crap outta the world!”

Disney is the opposite of that.  Disney yells, HELL NO in the face of adulthood. Disney kicks at the foundations of responsibility and maturity and says, “Come on, just dance along, will ya?”

Disney is the feeling you got the moment you first saw Wendy fly in Peter Pan.  Disney is the butterflies you felt when you saw Prince Charming kiss Cinderella.  Disney is the freedom of disappearing strings when Pinocchio became a real boy.  Disney is the O’hana when Stitch finds his family.  Disney is the wishes and dreams and laughter and daring of childhood.  It is all the things that deep down our souls are made of.  It is the opposite of all the things growing up has made you become.

Did you know that was Walt Disney’s dream for Disneyland?!  That children and adults alike could come and be in a place where time stands still, where the mundane tie-wearing, briefcase-carrying, time-clock punching ugliness of life was gone and all that is left is ice cream and magic potions and the innocence of a world made of the imagination.

I still get this feeling every time I walk through that tunnel. I still step out every time with tears in my eyes and I look down Main Street USA and I long for what I had in those moments of my first visit.  I long for the love and belonging I felt.  I long for the carefree, don’t-care-about-the-calorie-count abandon way I ran at life back then.  I long to believe again that wishes come true, and that all you need is a dream and a song.

To quote the song written for Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary:
Do you remember your imagination?
When Neverland was your destination
Your magical adventure isn’t over yet
Just hold on tight and don’t forget
Every wish, every dream you ever had
Just close your eyes
And it will all come rushing back
Fly away
All you need is to believe and remember when
You never know where your dreams might take you
So keep them safe and sound don’t let reality break you
Feel your sweetest memories come and carry you away
Just get lost in yesterday
Every wish, every dream you ever had
Just close your eyes
And it will all come rushing back
Fly away
All you need is to believe and remember when
Surrender to the innocence
You thought you left behind
And reach the child that lives inside
Every wish, every dream you ever had
Just close your eyes
And it will all come rushing back
Fly away
All you need is to believe and remember when

Oh yes, that’s my Disney right there.  This is why she makes me come alive.  Deep inside of me there is a little dreamer of a girl who wants grand balls and elegant dresses.  She dreams of handsome Princes and glass slippers.  And most of the time that little girl is packed away in exchange for controlled sensibility and business acumen.  Most of the time that little girl is muted in favour of winning proposals and soccer schedules and banking fees.

But not at Disney…no, not at Disney.  At Disney she dances hand-in-hand with those ragamuffin siblings of hers, with a chocolate ice cream stain on her favourite t-shirt (and she’s not even obsessing about cleaning it off!)  At Disney she wears a sparkly tiara and lies about her birthday so she can get more smiles and greetings from Cast Members.  At Disney she cries every time she sees those magical black ears, because it truly is these moments her soul comes alive!

I dare you just once in your lifetime to leave today behind and enter this magical place.  Let your inner child dance down those streets.  Let them eat and drink of life to the fullest.  I dare you to go with someone you love and hold their hand, and scream on the rides and sing along to every song and yell out with wanton, reckless abandon, the Song of my People:  “We wants the red head!”

Dee Robb

Married to Shane for 8 years and mom to 6 year old Rhett, Dee has owned her own financial services business for the past 8 years, with 15 years in the industry. She has a passion for travel and adventure! Dee runs a small, grassroots group that provides volunteer opportunities to familes and children - including an annual 40 Days of Giving Back event, where, for the period of Lent, families commit to giving back to their communities instead of giving something up.

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