Thursday, November 3, 2016

Town Square's Retreat

Today we're going to be taking a look at one the oldest traditions in all of Disney which takes place at Town Square in Disney World's Magic Kingdom. There's some fun things to see and do in this often overlooked area of the park but the history and patriotism is rich.

The first time I experienced it was this past spring. It was a hot, muggy day and I was heading back to our resort for some much needed down time before dinner. Walking quickly through the Emporium, mainly for the cool air it provided, I began to hear the sounds of a brass band which grew louder the closer I got to town square. Curious as to the origins of the music, I made my way towards the exit where just outside stood a moderate crowd peering up at the train station.

Still not knowing what was going on, I wound my way through the crowd to the front where I noticed all of the citizens of Main Street had also gathered. They too were looking up at the band who, at that moment, began to play America the Beautiful. It was then that I realized that I was about to witness one of the first Disney World traditions, the Flag Retreat.

I still get goosebumps when I reminisce on that ceremony. The Main Street Philharmonic dressed in their formal jackets and shakos. The young guest plucked from the crowd for her knowledge of the Pledge of Allegiance and willingness to recite it. The playing of the Star Spangled Banner as the color guard lowers the flag and then, in unison, the crowd joining in for the singing of God Bless America.

As the ceremony drew to a close, a veteran was honored for his service and the band broke out into a patriotic medley based on the melody of Cohan's "You're a Grand Old Flag." From start to finish, the entire ceremony only lasted about ten minutes but it was by far one of the most patriotic experiences of my life.

Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat

While the crowd began to disperse, I stood there for a moment and tried to, for the first time in my life, take in the entirety of Town Square. I saw the Fire Station and Chamber of Commerce; the Barber Shop and City Hall. I tried to imagine my life being lived in a small town where ceremony's such as this flag retreat would bring the community together in the square and bind us to a common cause. It's a tradition that is gravely missed in our country yet one that I will never forget I was able to witness in the Magic Kingdom's Town Square.

Next time you're there, just before the clock strikes five, do yourself a favor. Head over to Town Square and take a few minutes out of your day to celebrate our great country. You'll be glad that you did.

As always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Magic of Main Street

Walt Disney wanted to his guests to feel as though they were embarking on an adventure when they visited his parks and as soon as we walk through the turnstiles and into the Magic Kingdom, the Magic begins. From the rides and attractions to the theming and costume, Disney truly does set the stage for our grand adventure .

Under the train station, as we move towards Town Square, our adventure begins to unfold while we pass movie posters for upcoming attractions. The poster of Merlin reminding us that there is such a thing as Magic, the Wishes poster that reminds us that dreams really do come true, and finally, the Jungle Cruise poster that reminds us that our adventure awaits. Like the entrance into a grand theater, this entrance into the park is an invitation to suspend reality and become part of Walt's immersive theatrical experience.

Main Street USA

Every aspect of Walt Disney World  focuses on Walt's show and with Main Street USA, he's able to tell the story of the origins of the park by creating a sense of Hometown America. Modeled loosely on his childhood home of Marceline, Missouri, Main Street USA brings us a sense of familiarity while at the same time, building upon our excitement and anticipation. From the smell of fresh, hot popcorn to the bellowing tones of the Dapper Dans and all of the other citizens of Main Street, this is when the magic really takes over.

In the upcoming days, we will be taking a look at all of the many wonderful and magical aspects of Town Square and Main Street USA. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring some of the Disney magic to you, wherever you may be.

Thanks for reading.