50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World

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Abigail Lowry, ENN Staff

The happiest place in Orlando, Florida is celebrating 50 years.  For the Lake Ridge Eagles who can’t be there, they still celebrate at a distance and remember the good moments they have at Walt Disney World. 

Disney has provided an alternate world to step out of for some and has also completed childhood memories. The magic of Disney had some students feeling nostalgic over the movies and the resort park. Olivia Burke, sophomore, loves Disney because it gives her the chance to be someone different and more imaginative.

“My favorite thing about Disney is the joy and the imagination that it brings people. It gives people a chance to be the kid inside them again as an adult,” Burke stated. 

Since people have experienced the Wonderful World of Disney since the roaring ’20s, many have their childhood favorite stories. World Geography teacher, Brandi Lancaster, has loved Belle for a long time, and there is a deeper meaning behind the story that was her childhood favorite. 

“I love Beauty and the Beast. That’s just my favorite story. It was one of the first movies I remember watching, and I thought I looked like Belle for the longest time. Plus, I loved the story of beauty on the inside, not just the outside,” Lancaster said.

Some people might like Belle for the lessons about self-acceptance and inner beauty, but others like different Disney origins for the representation of strong characters. Burke appreciates the morals of strong womanhood taught in Tangled and thinks it is important to demonstrate that to the rising generation. 

“My favorite Rapunzel, I think she is really cool and she knocks people out with a frying pan which I think is funny. She is a very powerful woman even though she doesn’t come off as one,” Burke said. 

Disney has also provided entertainment that can be resourceful to young adults. Inside Out is a 2014 film about a young girl’s inner feelings and emotions. Ellie Hawkins, sophomore, likes the inner meaning of Inside Out because of its relatability. 

¨It’s hard to pick a favorite origin story, but I love Inside Out because it is so relatable to teenagers,” Hawkins said. 

Though Disney provides a safe source of creativity to some, with a lot of wonderful stories, some of the stories of evil are intriguing as well. Kandice San Miguel, English III teacher, loves Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog because she believes there is something more to him. 

“I’ve been obsessed with the villain origin stories recently, Ursula’s is really cool, I would really love to see something on Dr. Facilier, if I had to read a background story about a Disney villain, I would have to read about him because I think he is fascinating,” San Miguel said. 

Disney movies bring back nostalgic memories for some adults as well who also fell in love with the magic that Disney has brought for years.. AP Human Geography teacher Ashley Hicks loves Disney because her family instilled a love for the movies as a child. 

“As a 90’s child, when my parents were done with handling us kids, we often were told “here’s a VHS, go watch The Aristocats” so it is very much like my childhood was spent watching Disney movies on VHS,” stated Hicks.

Disney brings a bunch of magic to people because of how relatable some of the movies are and how it’s a part of escapism from reality.  San Miguel loves Disney and has a deep connection to the happiest place on Earth.

“I love everything about Disney World. I’m one of those people who when they walk into Disney World they start to cry just because of the sheer magic and what it stands for. I find the power of storytelling is so tremendous, it has such an impact on people’s lives and everyone makes of it what they want so you see yourself in Disney World even when you aren’t there. It’s such a magical place that everyone gets to enjoy and that makes me cry every time,” San Miguel said. 

While some people may not experience physically going to Walt Disney World, others go frequently and have magical experiences. San Miguel loves going to WDW several times a year and makes a lot of memories every time she goes. 

“I was there September 1-3, and we are going back in December and April. The last time I was there was the last time we would have my daughter with us, so we did the Food and Wine Festival for the first time so that was fun and magical,” San Miguel said.

Some people have had celebrity run-ins. Lancaster ran into two prominent singers when she went to Disney World 22 years ago and still remembers it today.

“My favorite ride at Disney World is the Tower of Terror because it drops you. I went there in 1999 and Beyonce and Christina Aguilera were there so I got to talk to Christina Aguilera for a little while. She’s very short but super sweet. Her bodyguards were right around the corner but nobody really knew she was there because there was this spring break thing happening. NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys were there too but we didn’t know that was happening because we weren’t told anything but it was a lot of fun,” Lancaster said.

Disney is aiming to be a more universally accepting franchise. Recently, they have added disclaimers to their more controversial movies like ‘The Aristocats’ and ‘Dumbo’ to promote a conversation about diversity. San Miguel really appreciates this and wants this to be a real topic of conversation. 

“I think Disney’s initiatives to be more inclusive have been successful. I think it is important that we acknowledge the issues they had in the past like Dumbo with the crow or The Aristocats and all of the problematic portrayals. I’m glad that now they have that disclaimer that this is not okay. But I still think we need to see it and recognize it as it was and acknowledge that it wasn’t okay. And now that they are making more of an effort to have more diverse characters and more people are seen in their films I think is really important,” San Miguel stated. 

50 years is a long time, and during this spooky season, some people are staying close to home to celebrate.  Burke loves to watch Disney Channel and is really enjoying celebrating the anniversary. 

“I’m celebrating 50 years of WDW by watching all my favorite movies, including the Halloween ones because it is a spooky season. I’m also watching the Disney Channel movies because they are nostalgic from my childhood,” Burke said. 

While Texas is far away from Florida, Disney fanatics can still have fun and celebrate the 50th birthday of a wonderful place where families gather and relationships are unified.