So what was the high point of Destination D: Walt Disney
World 40th, that D23 event that was held this past weekend at Disney's
Contemporary Resort ?
Given that there were so many terrific panels &
presentations over this two-day-long event, it wouldn't really be fair to
single out a particular one. But that said, I can guarantee you that there was
one moment which members of the Official Disney Fan Club will be talking about
for years to come.
Picture this: It's Sunday night. Well into that evening's presentation,
"Magic Journeys: A Flight of Fancy through 40 Years of Walt Disney World
Musical Memories." And as Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman seems ready to wrap
his fond look back at all of the great music that he & his brother Robert
created for The Walt Disney Company ...
Tim O'Day (Left) looks on as Richard M.
Sherman plays the piano. Photo by Jim Hill
... Disney historian Tim O'Day says to Richard "Aren't we
The stage then goes dark. And the audience is then treated
to some extremely rare footage from the official March 1983 opening ceremony
for Epcot's Journey into Imagination pavilion.
Dreamfinder and Figment back in
1983. Photo by Jim Hill
And then the lights came back up on stage. And there - in the
flesh, back together on WDW property for the first time since this Future World
attraction underwent an ill-fated revamp back in October of 1998 - was the
Dreamfinder and his old pal, Figment.
Dreamfinder and Figment together again.
Photo by Jim Hill
The roar from the crowd in the Fantasia ballroom was so loud
and went on for so long that many Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th
attendees missed out on those great little totally-in-character lines that the
Dreamfinder threw away. Like when he snatched the yellow 3D goggles off of Figment's
head and said "No, we're not going to see 'Captain E0." Or - when gesturing to
a D23 member - the Dreamfinder (obviously referring to that
oversized Figment walk-around character which used to do meet-n-greets with WDW
Guests a few years back) stated "I think a few of the younger (members of the Official Disney Fan Club are) confused as to why you aren't 8 feet tall."
The Dreamfinder, Figment and Richard
Sherman sing "Imagination." Photo by Jim Hill
The Dreamfinder then crossed to the piano and asked Richard
Sherman for a favor. Could this Disney Legend please play "One Little Spark" ? And - of course - Richard complied.
All together now! Photo by Jim Hill
Which is how the Dreamfinder was then able to lead all 1200
attendees in singing the "Journey into Imagination" song.
Now I know that people - whenever they're talking about Disney's
theme parks, movies and TV shows - often mention dreams & magic. But this
one moment at this past weekend's Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th
was legitimately magic. The way that those D23 members in the Fantasia ballroom
reacted when the Dreamfinder initially appeared live onstage with Figment was
like something out of an Elvis concert.
The cast of Sunday night's "Magic
Journeys" concert takes a bow. Photo by Jim Hill
To be honest, I almost felt sorry for ENCORE!, the WDW cast
member choir & orchestra that followed Dreamfinder & Figment. Because -
as far as the members of the Official Disney Fan Club were concerned - nothing else could possibly top
that particular moment in Sunday night's concert.
And if you don't believe me, go check out this video of the Dreamfinder & Figment's cameo appearance in Sunday night's "Magic Journeys: A Flight of Fancy through 40 Years of Walt Disney World
Musical Memories" concert. And you'll then see that this unlikely pairing of man & dragon was a really tough act to follow.Your thoughts?
It was an awesome moment and it actually brought chills, goosebumps and a tear to my eye (actually more than one tear). And you're right, nothing could have topped that moment, but ENCORE! did a great job, nonetheless...I was singing right along with them. Maybe you heard me, I was sitting in the row directly in front of you!
Awww!! I wish they'd just bring back the Dreamfinder in all his glory! Figment's attraction at Epcot these days is a disgrace and I'd rather see them bring back the old attraction than what they have been doing in other areas of WDW.
I literally jumped up and down when Dreamfinder came out with Figment. For a while, it seemed like nothing could top it... but ENCORE's Epcot Center medley came darn close - For the first time in over twenty years, thanks to ENCORE, I felt the magical, hopeful optimism that EPCOT CENTER embodied before they lost their way...
Thanks, Jim! (Sorry I couldn't say anything when I saw you... )
How can a place named Imagineering mess up a pavilion called Imagination? Also, Jim Henson, we miss you! Abdiwah! So is life.
Thanks for covering an important evening. We miss Figment and Dreamfinder too!
I never liked the Dreamfinder or Figment. I think their fan base is rather small.
I felt the magic of the moment just from reading friends' tweets when it happened. I wish I could have been there to see it. Thank you, Jim, for the article and the pictures.
You hit the nail on the head, Jim. When Dreamfinder walked out on that stage, the energy level--scratch that, magic--in that room was truly palpable. I had the chills from some of Mr. Sherman's earlier performances, but when he and Dreamfinder performed their duet, I couldn't hold back the tears.
For me, it was a chance to re-connect with the characters that began my love for Disney as a child. Seeing the REAL Figment and Dreamfinder for the first time since probably 1996 or so was truly an emotional experience for me.
So, thank you D23 and your wonderful cast, thank you Mr. Sherman, but most of all, thank you Mr. Schneider for making the evening so magical!!!
Yes, Dreamfinder was an amazing main course. But, Encore's dessert was unbelievable! I thought it was great to wind up the convention with a reminder of just how talented the Cast Members at WDW are...and as Walt said; "it takes ".
,,,PEOPLE to make that dream a reality"
I'm hoping they bring the original ride back. Never got to ride it for real (just saw a video on YouTube).