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Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last Dance...

under the red and white.

Yeah, an era comes to an end.

A spokesperson for Disney attended this final dance (along with hundreds of people who wanted to support the dancers on their last night).  He assured the swing community that they were a valued part of the Disney family and that Disney has every intention of bringing swing dancing back when the new facility is ready.  In the meantime, they will be moved on Saturday nights to a stage in Downtown Disney.  The same bands that have alternated Saturday nights for years will perform.  He also said that the Disney swing tradition is the longest-running support of big band music and swing dancing in the world at over 50 years.  Some of the biggest names in big band history have played this stage including Les Brown and His Band of Renown; Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra; Gene Krupa and His Orchestra; Count Basie and His Orchestra; Harry James and His Orchestra; Louis Armstrong; Duke Ellington and His Orchestra; Woody Herman and His Orchestra; and our family favorite, Buddy Rich and His Band.  The full history is  here. 

Not that I ever saw them.  As much as my dad would have loved to sit and listen to these geniuses of big band music, Disneyland days were about family for him and he played with us.

That red and white "tent" has been at Disneyland for as long as I can remember.  Both of my sons have performed under it.  We've enjoyed straight jazz sets of the All-American College Band under that canopy every summer.  But as of tomorrow, that area of Disneyland will get boarded up and - in a year or two - will re-open as an extension of Fantasyland.

Here is some of the concept art:

Currently there is a large amphitheater in the Fantasyland/Toon Town area that houses the Princess Fantasy Faire.  It's a delightful place where you can learn to be a dancing Lord or Lady with good manners and a kind heart.  You can listen to stories (complete with musical accompaniment) or have your picture taken with a princess.  Or three.  All of that, they say, will move to the new medieval village and rumor is that a musical (kind of like the Aladdin show in California Adventure) will appear in the theater.

We'll see.

I have mixed feelings.  There are few areas in the park anymore where you can go have a bit of quiet in the middle of a hectic day, often overwhelming, day.  But at the same time, except for the performances, it did tend to feel like "wasted" space.  The new extension will be attractive and fun for little ones, so I guess I'll be grateful for the experiences of the past and look forward to seeing how this piece of "moving forward" ends up.

It was a good day at the Park.  We (my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and, of course, my mom) got there early for breakfast at the Riverbelle Terrace.  It's a perfectly fine place to eat, but we all miss the Carnation Cafe so will be happy when it re-opens.  After breakfast we headed over to Tomorrowland where we had almost a walk-on experience on Space Mountain.  We had time for a restroom trip, a quick visit to the Star Trader gift store and a quick browse at the Pin Trader (which is called something else but old habits die hard) before our Star Tours fastpasses were open.  This time we saw the Darth Vader - Kashyyyk (Wookie planet) - Boba Fett trip.  You never know exactly where you will be going when you belt yourself into your shuttle.

We did something new this trip.  We tucked Mom in at the Coke Corner with something to drink and a book so that she could enjoy the ragtime piano player all morning and into the early afternoon while the rest of us went on rides at California Adventure.

Here she is enjoying Ragtime Alan.  She said later that he came over to visit with her for a while; she appreciated his kindness.

Pretty.  In the queue at the Hollywood Tower of Terror.
Once she was comfortable the rest of us headed over to the other park to ride the Hollywood Tower of Terror.  They must have just greased the gear because these were the fastest falls yet, which meant the longest gravity-free moment I've had on that ride.  Very cool.

Next we went to the Little Mermaid ride.  My family hadn't been on it yet.  It's a fast on and off (only takes about five minutes max to see it) and is just delightful.  (I want these tiles.)

After Little Mermaid I decided to join my sister and BIL on one of their favorites, the Ferris wheel with the swinging cars.  Have I ever mentioned here that I'm afraid of heights?  Ferris wheels are not usually something I choose to experience, but my bucket list includes a ride in a hot air balloon in Utah someday, so I thought this would be good training.  I about lost it, though, when that gondola started to swing.  I didn't imagine that it would tilt at an angle where I would be looking straight down through the mesh ceiling into the water of the lagoon.  My beloved sister and beloved brother-in-law were in hysterics as was, they said, the castmember who put us into the gondola and watched my entire experience .

My BIL got a picture of my face just as the gondola gave me another tilt experience.  I will spare us all.

Midway Mania was next (133,330 - not my best score) and after that I headed back over to Disneyland to make sure my Mom was all right.  It was about 2:00 and she was happy as a clam.  She'd had a nice visit with Ragtime Alan and one of the castmembers who helps keep the place magically sparkling.  Alan had told her that Ragtime Michael would be next up at 2:30, which was good news.  We haven't seen him there in months, and as much as we've enjoyed the other piano players (no bad music in Disneyland), only Ragtime Michael seems to understand that different atmospheres lend themselves to different music.  (Nobody does "dreamy" like Michael.)  I was able to stop by the Coke Corner later that evening on an errand to get warmies out of our locker and was able to hear "Sentimental Journey" and "Chim Chim Cheree," but, unfortunately, Mom was only able to stay for the earlier Musical Chairs set (not the best display of his considerable musical talent) because we were going to Billy Hill and the Hillbillies before getting chairs for the swing dance party.

Hmmm... somebody new.  I don't know this bass player.
The Swing dance party wasn't scheduled until 7:00, but even at 5:00 we were barely able to scrape together enough chairs.

What a fabulous evening.  Swingtown is fabulous, the dancers were fabulous and the friends filling the plaza gardens had a fabulous time.

Practicing for the last dance.  This crew taught the others throughout the night.


Gotta learn Shim Sham!

 Party Man Maynard stopped by for a couple of dances.

Maynard is so gracious.  Too bad my flash wasn't working.

 Goodbye, old friend.

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