Mouse Tears: The Phenomenon

by Feature Writer Mike Scopa


It's been going on for years. I can sort of describe it and show you when it's happening… but just don't ask me to explain why this phenomenon occurs in me.

I like to call it Mouse Tears and simply put it's the sudden appearance of those salty drops we call tears as we experience Walt Disney World.

It's been happening to me for years and I bet... wait... I know how best to explain this to you. Perhaps if I recall for you exactly where I was struck by this phenomenon that perhaps you will discover for yourself exactly when you experienced the same.

There are so many times when this phenomenon has hit me that I feel it best to give you my top 10 MouseTears memories… from #10 to #1.

#10 Cinderella Castle

This happens to everyone... as soon as you emerge from underneath magic Kingdom's train station you begin to stretch your neck to look for that icon, that symbol, that landmark that insures you are where you want to be. It's that structure that we all remember being there from the first visit to now... we know it's the most photographed structure in the world and we love it. I'm usually good when I first see the castle…but quite a few times I will just stop at first glance and feel the joy, knowing that I am about to spend the near future bathing in the glow of WDW and all its glory, and that's when I fight back the tears.

#9 The Roy Disney Statue

If you know anything about the story of the brothers Disney you would know that Roy was rubbing Walt's feet as the latter's life slowly ebbed away. You would also know that Roy dedicated himself to seeing that Walt Disney World would open without a hitch. Roy lived to see the resort open. but just barely. A few months after WDW opened and Roy made a speech dedicating the resort to his brother, Roy passed away. When you think of the devotion that these two brothers had for one another and you look at Roy on that bench…well…it does get to me.

#8 Beauty and the Beast Stage Show

Ahh yes I can see those eyes rolling but hear me out. You know the scene in which the Beast is wounded and Belle drops to her knees? That gets to me. Those who know me understand my reverence for the character of Belle and how she represents so much of the good in all of us. Her affection and consideration for all things, especially this monster is so elegantly displayed at that moment that it moves me. Every time.

#7 The Partners Statue

I remember growing up and watching Walt Disney on television and nothing thrilled me more than seeing him interact with Mickey. One time I was at Pleasure Island and the art store over there had a display in the window. It was that depiction of Mickey Mouse looking in a mirror and painting a self-portrait and his brushstrokes revealed non other than Walt Disney himself. Mickey was truly Walt Disney's alter ego and when you think of it Walt Disney World is an extension of Walt Disney's personality…a personality that has literally touched millions of lives. Whoever thought of that Partners statue really hit home for me?

#6 The American Adventure

This is my favorite attraction in Walt Disney World. I used to get choked up when I would see Christina McAuliffe's image and JFK's image…but over the last half-dozen years as "Golden Dream" has been enhanced with other images I find my eyes behaving like broken faucets…I believe this new phenomenon started with me several days after JFK Jr. died in a plane crash and I saw him in "Golden Dream" saluting as his slain father passed him by in December 1963. Needless to say the references to 911 hit home too. As soon as Rosie disappears and the song begins, I know the tears are just around the corner.

#5 The Walt Disney Story

Are you sensing a theme here? I had the honor one day of seeing the Walt Disney Story with one of my dearest Disney cast member friends, one who is quick to admit that Walt Disney is his hero. My friend Jim and I spent the day in the then named Disney/MGM Studios and we watched the Walt Disney Story which is the film shown at the end of the One Man's Dream attraction. Towards the end of the movie Jim and I both got caught up in what was being shown on the screen and as we left the theater we were both reaching for tissues to wipe our eyes. Why were we tearing up? Don't know. We talked about it but could not come up with an explanation.

#4 Festival of the Lion King

This Animal Kingdom attraction I feel is one of the most underrated attractions in all of Walt Disney World. It's a lot of fun, a celebration of life, and memorable in so many ways. A few years back while enjoying this attraction I noticed I was shedding tears during the portion of the performance when the children were taken from the audience and marched around to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" The smiles and laughter from those innocent faces just touched me to the point of bringing tears…it still happens today.

#3 Wishes

It's funny how although I was always moved by "Fantasy in the Sky" it's "Wishes" that just pulls the emotions out of me. I'm not sure what it is…perhaps the words are especially meaningful to me. It's the music that also works towards Mousetears and I often find myself scurrying to the Upper Rose Garden, away from the maddening crown frantically leaving the park. While most of the guests are walking away from the castle I am doing quite the opposite because I want to hear the music and just sit and before I know it I begin to tear up. Along with Wishes I have to add the Kiss Goodnight to Wishes as it is part of the nighttime spectacular. Kiss Goodnight is the signoff for the park and it is so touching and so moving that I look for it every time I am in TMK at night.

#2 The Voices of Liberty

Four years ago I was on a research solo trip in Walt Disney World and happened to be in the American Adventure Rotunda and listening to the Voices of Liberty. Of course we were all still trying to recover from the horrors of 911 and on that day the voices sang "Let there be peace on earth" led by one of the voices signing the words to everyone. It was a song dedicated to all who had given their lives for their country….a few months earlier a boy who I had coach in baseball and basketball for ten years had perished in a helicopter accident in Iraq. For some reason I put the two together and just about lost it in the rotunda to the point where a couple of the voices came up to me and asked me if I was okay. There is something about WDW and music that brings out emotion in me and every time I hear the Voices of Liberty I just know what's going to happen.

#1 Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Illuminations will always be the number one trigger to draw Mousetears from me. The majesty of what takes place over World Showcase lagoon will never fail to move me. But it's the song "We Go On" that really pushes my buttons. It seems I can always relate the song to something that had happened in my life…a hardship…a downfall…tough times. The song builds towards a climax, the torch rises and then the finale hits. It really touches me. When I watch Illuminations I am totally in the Disney Zone and am almost always in a trance for at least 5 minutes after the last fireworks shell goes off. I often wonder how guests can watch the spectacular and immediately head for the exits while I cannot even pull my eye from the torch and the lagoon for several minutes. I need to also mention that at the holidays it's a one-two punch for me…on top of the regular Illuminations show is of course the Christmas tag -- and once again that song, "Let There be Peace on Earth" is played -- this time for all of Epcot to hear. It's quite an emotional moment for me. Why? Dunno.

So over the last 20 years or so I have noticed this phenomenon and have tried to explain it to myself. So far I have not been successful. So why am I attempting to explain it to you? Well, my guess is that you too have experienced this phenomenon and perhaps you can explain it to me.

If you can't explain it well…join the club.

When this phenomenon first started showing up I felt embarrassed…not sure why…was it a sign of weakness? That embarrassment quickly passed and I soon understood that there was something in me, perhaps my love for the joy that a young newspaper boy and budding artist has unknowingly given me and so many others for such a long time.

Mouse Tears is a phenomenon that I'm sure affects so many more than me. It's okay to admit that you've been touched by it. It should tell you something about yourself and about your life.

Embrace it... I have.