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Reliving Fond Memories
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When the sun goes behind the berm, and the twinkling lights come on in the trees around the hub, another kind of entertainment emerges in Disneyland. People cool down at the end of a long hot day after dinner and listen to Music, live music! Not the area music themes for each land, but live horns, drums, guitars, wafting through the warm air, mingling with the scents of popcorn and fresh coffee. Each â€˜land' in the park had their own sound for different tastes of the guests: Dixieland jazz in New Orleans, rock for the kids on the Tomorrowland stage, country/western in Bear Country or Frontierland and Big Band on Main Street.
When I was a kid, the sound of big band music came at the end of a hot day from Carnation Gardens. The Count Basie or the Duke Ellington orchestra's smooth horn section spilled out into the hub mingling with the voices and area music. I'd watch the musicians with their gleaming instruments, and the people dancing to the music. I'd walk towards Tomorrowland and the tempo would change. I'd hear guitars and synthesizers. I sat with friends on the metal benches of the Space Stage seeing a space metal group whose name escapes me now.
Then there was Videopolis with the roving cameramen and the large screens. Tomorrowland had been outgrown, and the kids got their own dance place. Unfortunately, too many of the "wrongâ€? element began gravitating to the park, so the place was shut down and converted to the Fantasyland theatre.
Lately, I began noticing young couples showing up at the main gate dressed "to the nines' in their suits and dresses. Looking down at one woman's spiked heels; I wondered how long she could last standing in line with those shoes. Once into the park, I heard something that evoked those far away memories in me. Now the dressed up young people made sense. They were there to dance. The big band sounds were again floating out of a changed Carnation Plaza, like a ghost from another, more pleasant time. But this was no "Shining"; this was real.
With the continued popularity of swing dancing, someone in TDA should be applauded for reintroducing big bands to the Carnation stage. For alot of the old time Disneyland fans, it is a return to a special time in Disneyland history, a different philosophy. I remember sitting in front of the TV as a kid as Walt introduced night time at Disneyland, with something different in each land. Oh, to be on the Mark Twain, listening to Louis Armstrong! It was great to see the revival of a tradition in a place that used to revere tradition.
Recently, I was in DCA, where I watched a great live band called The Fenians, an Irish folk/rock band of first generation immigrants from the Orange County area. They are very entertaining, playing a mix of their own songs, and older ballads from their homeland. The band consists of a guitarist, mandolin player, bassist, drummer and piccolo/sax/flute player. The music is intoxicating, free spirited. They obviously have their own fan base, since those sitting up front seemed to know the band and their material. They were clapping and singing along to the infectious beat.
A good friend recommended The Fenians. The music was inspiring, a bit different from what I usually hear at Disneyland. That's a good thing. It had been awhile since I heard live music, so it was invigorating for me.
I hope the return of music to the park is something the management will pursue. Music enriches the atmosphere of the park, giving guests something more to do than wait in lines for churros. Looking at the success of the swing dancing, and the Fenians in DCA, it is sound logic that TDA should keep considering and expanding.
NOTE: The Fenians will return to the Pacific Wharf stage in DCA August 15, 16, 17.
-- David Mink
Reliving Fond Memories is normally posted the third Wednesday of each month.
The opinions expressed by our David Mink, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.
-- Posted July 16, 2003