The wondrous power of a few
Naomi and I spent a week in Orlando as a warm-up from this brutal winter. For three sunny days we roamed the pair of Universal theme parks and Disney’s Hollywood, and we were thoroughly enthralled. The $660-million Wizarding World of Harry Potter alone is phenomenal, the best such attraction we’ve seen. Shrek, The Simpsons, Despicable Me, and Spiderman were also standouts.
On the tram from the vast parking lot to the Hollywood entrance, there was a timid six-year-old brown-eyed girl seated opposite us beside her Latino mom. The girl wore a pink fairy princess dress and a glittery crown and held a wand. We thanked her for allowing us to ride in her carriage, and she smiled shyly. I suspect she’ll remember that enchanting day at Disney for many years. In the thronged Diagon Alley of the Harry Potter fantastic otherworld of magic, grown people were wearing wizard hats. Smiles and good cheer were abundant everywhere we went.
Disney’s four Orlando theme parks drew over 50 million visitors in 2013 while the two Universal parks attracted over 15 million. That combined single-year total is nearly equivalent to a quarter of the entire United States population. I’ll bet virtually all those visitors found the experience uplifting, as did we.
It occurred to me that the wonderful power behind these parks originated as elusive wisps of imagination in the minds of only a few dozen unusual people. Disney, Dr. Seuss, J.K. Rowling, Michael Crichton, the writers and illustrators of Marvel Comics and the creators of the Simpsons and Shrek and Betelgeuse and other purely fictional characters. The digital conjurers of Pixar. They all must have been highly satisfied to see their imaginary creations made real by a host of clever engineers and craftsmen, and to know their work continues to bring smiles and enchantment to the souls of so many millions every year.
Note: One of my short stories, a SF yarn titled “Silent Screams,” was named “Highly Commended” at the online Writers’ Village, where you can find lots of good advice about stellar storytelling. It was one of 17 story contest entries I’ve submitted over the past two months. I’ll let you know how those other entries fare. You might want to enter a few such contests yourself. It’s excellent writing practice, if nothing else.