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For a week in July, Disney fans and collectors gathered to
exchange information and collectibles. Throughout the week we heard from Disney Legends
regarding the creation of Pirates of the Caribbean and from Cynthia Harriss about the
future of the Disneyland Park. We heard about DisneyQuest, restoring and preserving Disney
Art, restoring Disney music and many stories about Walt Disney.
One of the highlights of the week's activities was a luncheon to honor Roy E. Disney, Norman "Stormy" Palmer and Charles Ridgway. There was a who's who of Disney in attendance. Looking from table to table you could see such individuals as Wally Boag and Betty Taylor from the Golden Horseshoe, Cicely Rigdon who created Disneyland's Ambassador program, X. Atencio who wrote the lyrics for Grim Grinning Ghosts, Marc and Alice Davis who really need no introduction in the world of Disney and many others, including the honorees. And while I really enjoyed the stories of the honorees, the moment that will forever be etched in my mind began as a simple trip to the restroom during a luncheon.
As I was washing my hands Illene Woods stepped up to the sink beside me. Some may not recognize the name but she was the voice of Cinderella. The soundtrack of Cinderella had accompanied me to sleep throughout my childhood. The fanfare that was played as the princesses entered the palace to meet the Prince was my Barbie doll's bridal march and ultimately the bridal march for my wedding. Realizing it was her, I began to shiver a bit. While we both washed our hands I suddenly realized I was watching her and, embarrassed by this realization, felt the need to say something. I managed to get out, "Did you enjoy your meal?" In that voice that had surrounded me as I fell into a peaceful slumber she replied, "Yes, they brought me a beautiful fruit plate."
With her gestures and inflection, although many years have
passed since she voiced the character, it was still very obvious she was
Cinderella. Suddenly there were so many things I wanted to say and yet I didn't want to
inundate her with the years of memories and moments. I felt the warmth, that I had always
connected with Cinderella, as we spoke. It was as if I was meeting a long lost friend or
family member. Slightly embarrassed by what I knew had to be very apparent star struck
behavior, I simply wished her a pleasant day and headed back to my seat. On this
particular day I was walking with my cane so she very warmly offered to walk along with
Growing up I was always amazed at the amount of life animators could bring to what are in essence simple pencil sketches. I would laugh and cry at the circumstances of the characters on the screen. At Disneyland I can still tap into those emotions at the sight of these characters. However, in meeting Ms. Woods, I realized that the animators not only gave life to these sketches, but in some cases placed a life in them. In watching Cinderella now I will see Illene Woods. I know now that her gesturing and mannerisms must have inspired their sketches. What an amazing opportunity it was to meet someone who has unknowingly been a very, very special part of my life.
[Editor's Note: For more on the recent NFFC convention, read our Memories of NFFC feature]-- Rebekah Moseley (August 18, 1999)
Forever Magical: Rebekah's recollections on Disney events of the past - both distant and recent - proving that Disney will always remain forever magical.
Forever Magical is posted on the third Wednesday of each month.