An Illuminating Thought

By Mike Scopa
AllEars® Feature Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the December 23, 2008 Issue #483 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Mike ScopaI have always thought of myself as a "glass half full" kind of person. With 2008 behaving as it has the last six months, other "half full" people and I have been pretty challenged to maintain such an attitude heading into 2009.

Lately, and as recently as this past week, I have become more and more aware as to how the wonders of Walt Disney World affect me and help me make it through some difficult times… especially those of the past year.

There are some attractions that send an obvious message to me and influence my attitude toward life. In so many ways there is a subliminal message throughout telling us never to give up and to just keep at it because things will get better.

Think about "Mickey's PhilharMagic" in Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland. Donald, as he is known to do, causes some problems, but in the end Mickey makes everything all right.

If you have ever watched "Wishes" at the Magic Kingdom and listened to Jiminy Cricket you may recall at one point Jiminy reminding us that "…just when things look bad, fate steps in to see you through," which implies to us to never give up when we are down in the dumps or having a difficult day.

Of course those attractions that are based on some of the most popular animated attractions all have happy endings of their own and always ending up on a positive note, and causing us to leave with a smile on our face. But above all those attractions is one particular event that I look forward to every year in Epcot while enjoying MouseFest. This event is my annual viewing of Holiday IllumiNations at World Showcase. It seemed that more so than ever before this nighttime spectacular gave me pause to think about 2008 and a sense to look ahead to a more positive 2009.

Last week while watching Holiday IllumiNations with my closest and dearest friends my mind wandered off and I took a very quick tour of 2008 and thought about everything that had occurred this year. The sights, sounds, and imagery put so much into perspective.

Actually, let's start with IllumiNations itself.

I have always seen the first few moments of IllumiNations as a celebration of life. The music, the lighting, the choreographed fireworks of Reflections of Earth — all give me a sense of what we all go through in our lives. To me it should really be called Reflections of Life.

If you listen to the music you can hear the slight transition. Sometimes the tone is ominous, just as when we have challenges in life. Then there are portions that represent milestones in our lives, discovering who we are — perhaps the first meeting with our life partner, the birth of our first child, and even the loss of a loved one and how we have coped with each major event in our lives.

The music goes from celebratory to melancholy and at times reminds us of our own lives, not just the joys but the struggles as well, and how we have pulled through so many times… be it alone or with the help of others. The music builds to a point where we know that the struggle is over and we are again on a highpoint.

The music becomes light and gleeful and I find myself thinking wonderful thoughts as I watch and listen as lights, fireworks, water, music, and the total imagery give me a sense of accomplishment that assures me that I can meet head on whatever life decides to serve up for me.

As I have wandered through Disney parks for so many years I probably never knew that the underlying current throughout was to subliminally feed my courage; to give me strength to face whatever was to lie ahead of me and to have faith that "fate would see me through…"

IllumiNations does that to me… especially toward the end of Reflections of Earth.

I feel so good about myself toward the end of the song — it is a wonderful piece of music that we all need to embrace each and every time we hear it. It is to remind us that we should make life as a positive experience for not only ourselves but for all those whose lives we touch. That music fuels this fire and rekindles this belief.

To take this one more step is the stirring rendition of "We Go On" by Kellie Coffey. Her voice, surrounded by the pageantry of music, light, water and fire, truly inspires me to move ahead… and in this year of tremendous challenges for everyone the lyrics have so much meaning.

When I hear the phrase "to reach out and touch tomorrow," I feel that is saying that we must subscribe to a sense of optimism, otherwise why would we even look ahead if we were unsure of the future?

The "new horizon" mentioned in the song to me implies that there is a new level waiting for all of us to successfully reach and that beyond that horizon lie so many wonderful life experiences.

But most of all the three words heard out this song — three very small words, made up of two letters apiece, small in stature but so huge in the message — should give us all a lift and help us understand that although life can be a struggle, we all find a way to meet those challenges and that there is no doubt that we will move ahead.

"We go on."

As we move ahead we will come across what the song says are "new frontiers," which to me represent watershed moments in our lives, times that will define us and our lives. That will occur as… we go on.

Each year has a "current" and that current sometimes offers us a rough ride. We need to ride that current out because as we do we all become stronger as a result. Once we do that we are in a much better place and then… we go on.

If you listen to the words very closely you will find that the words say so much to you, about the "spirit born to run… with each rising sun… to a new day." You will find yourself saying to yourself, "I will get through this… I will go on."

The ending of the song is truly inspiring as there is a build-up of voices. It has always made me think that we are all in this together, and it is together that we will pull through. The song moves me so much.

Then the icing on the cake — the Christmas Tag with Walter Cronkite's golden voice heard around World Showcase as we hear a choir sing "Let there Be Peace on Earth."

Although I have witnessed this many times, to this day I marvel how this very short presentation at the end of Holiday IllumiNations makes the hardiest of men weak in the knees, and draws tears from whatever depths they lie to the surface to make a rare appearance.

For me this experience every year reminds me of so many things, reminds me of friends I have lost over the years to whatever dreadful disease claimed their lives. But it also reminds me to appreciate the friends I still have with me and to enrich their lives as they have enriched mine.

It reminds me of how each and every one of us faces challenges in our everyday lives. But most of all it reminds me that life is what you make of it. We have only ourselves to blame if we do not make the most of what life has to offer.

It means treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. It is then and only then that life will reward us with so many worthwhile memories.

It's just another aspect of the legacy of Walt Disney… the eternal optimist.

Those of us at AllEars® work hard all year to help you make those special memories at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and wherever your Disney passion takes you. It is a tireless labor of love for us and as each holiday season arrives we look at the past year and smile as we hope we have made you smile.

From all of us to all of you we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and look forward to giving you more Disney Magic in 2009.

You see, as the song says… "We Go On!"

Happy holidays from the AllEars.Net team.



Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and has served as keynote speaker for the 2006 and 2007 MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast and writes a regular blog, The View from Scopa Towers, for AllEars.Net:

Other AllEars® articles by Mike Scopa:


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.