This is the lyric from a song by Howard Ashman, who would later write the lyrics for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin for Disney.
Written for a musical that would eventually flop, the song is titled “Disneyland.” (Interestingly, the first person to perform the song on Broadway was an unknown performer named Jodi Benson, who would one day be famous as the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid).
Recently, Disney re-recorded the song as the kiss goodnight for its 60th Anniversary production of World of Color at Disney California Adventure. Long after the show is over, guests who are patient get to hear Walt Disney say,
“I don’t know about you folks, but it’s way past my bedtime, and morning comes around early, and that’s one of my favorite times here, too. So, goodnight.”
(This is from the wonderful Disneyland After Dark episode of the original Wonderful World of Color TV show, hosted by Walt himself. You can find the whole thing on YouTube.)
This in itself is a great reason to stay and watch the final dancing moments of the fountain show. But then it segues into a stunning, stirring version of this incredible song by one of Disney’s greatest songwriters:
I close my eyes real tight
Wishing hard I might, wishing hard I may
Find my way to Disneyland,
Gotta get to Disneyland
On a western breeze, magic carpet, please, carry me away.
For anyone who’s never been to Walt’s original park, it may be hard to see the appeal. It’s a theme park. It’s expensive. It’s commercial. There are many reasons to be skeptical, and even cynical about Disneyland. But imagine a world without a Disneyland.
Imagine a world where you can’t get a hug from Mickey Mouse. Or ride a steam train around a river and through tunnels and past the Grand Canyon. Imagine not having an Omnibus on Main Street, USA, or a place where a castle stands at the end of the road, or a paddlewheeler still freely floats along the Rivers of America. Imagine a world where kids don’t meet a princess, battle Darth Vader, or encounter pirates and ghosts and laughing places.
The song goes on to say
I believe in Disneyland!
Please take me to Disneyland!
And when I get to Disneyland, I’ll stay!
I believe in Disneyland. It’s the kind of place the world needs. Just like it needed Walt Disney, who, in spite of all “he tried to tell it about laughter, love, children, puppies and sunrises…hardly deserved him.”
It’s not just a vacation spot. It’s more than a resort complex or a theme park. Disneyland is unique in the world because it was created by a unique and wonderful man who continues to inspire dreamers, believers, and those who want to believe that there really is a “great big, beautiful tomorrow” out there for all of us, just a dream away.
Next time you visit Disney California Adventure, don’t be in a hurry to exit after World of Color: Celebrate. As the crowds die down, make your way to the front of the viewing area in Paradise Park and watch the fountains. The orange one in the front will be the last to take a bow.
Orange was Walt’s favorite color. It’s a fitting tribute to the man who gave the world so much to believe in.