It is no secret that we Dillos thrive on the nostalgia. I myself go to the Parks these days more to take in the views that I remember and bring me to a comforting ease. I have not been able to spend time in the Magic Kingdom since January 2011. I look forward to seeing the New Fantasyland upon my next visit, yet wonder if there will be a part of me that will longingly stare where Snow White’s Scary Adventures once resided (even though it scared me to no end as a child) or reflect on the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon (even though it laid dormant for decades).
On that last visit to the Magic Kingdom two years ago, I made the wooden rafted journey to Tom Sawyer’s Island for the first time in many, many years. This was a highlight of the day I spent because I realized how untouched this playground has been over the course of four decades. In fact, only three changes have been made to the Island since its opening:
– Fort Sam Clemens is no longer Fort Sam Clemens, even though it hasn’t been for about 15 years…. I still call it Fort Sam Clemens.
– Aunt Polly’s was closed. I never ate there, but the dock is still a beacon of tranquility.
– The ‘burning’ cabin had been extinguished. I honestly only remembered this as a focal point of the Walt Disney World Railroad and not as an attraction on Tom Sawyer’s Island.
And that’s it. Three changes. The charm and the wonder of the island hasn’t missed a beat. I do wonder if that charm and wonder is lost on the kids of today. I think that part of that though is the pessimistic city thinking, but the lack of electronics involved (video, interactive play screens) makes me think that the appreciation just ain’t the same as it once was.
I was a sports guy. I wasn’t much for camping or building forts but, I loved exploring Tom Sawyer’s Island, be it the barrel bridge or shooting air guns from the second floor of the fort or Old Scratch’s Mine or Injun Joe’s Cave. I loved zipping my way through those dark passages when I was a kid. It made my grandmother crazy. Once I was so far ahead that, following several attempts at calling out for me failed, she cried out to my parents, “I think [Brother Dillo] went this way!”
And she turned promptly into the wall of Injun Joe’s Cave.