Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Never Never Land

Once upon a time...
"I can show you the world,
shining, shimmering, splendid,
Tell me, princess,
Now when did you last
let your heart decide?
I can open your eyes,
take you wonder by wonder,
over, sideways, and under,
on a magic carpet ride.
A whole new world,
a new fantastic point of view.
No one to tell us no,
or where to go,
or say we're only dreaming.
A whole new world..."

Most people wonder if it's correct to say "Holland" or "The Netherlands."  I wonder if it's correct to say "Neverland," "Never Land," or "Never Never Land."  Intrigued by the idea of traveling on a magic carpet, I bought a ticket for the ultimate Disney sightseeing adventure.  You might think that this adventure would be to Disney World, Disneyland, or even Disneyland in Paris.  It's not.  I bought a ticket to Never Land.  It sounded like such an incredible day trip that I simply had to go, "out there...What I'd give, what I'd dare, just to live one day out there."  I even had a dream about traveling to Never Land, and "a dream is a wish your heart makes," right?  I had to try it.  Besides, I heard that spending time in Never Land effectively prevents aging.

The ticket was pretty cheap since you have to fly yourself there.  Flights depart just beyond the sunset.  You take the second star to the right and continue straight on until morning.  That's not quite as cryptic as "To infinity, and beyond," but it's close.  I suppose I'll figure it out when the time comes.

I cannot fly.  Confirmed.  Trying pretty hard though.
Last night around 11:00 pm, I packed Marissa's camping backpack, taking care to pack my converter in case Never Land had different shaped outlets.  Then, I tried to figure out how to fly myself to Never Land.  First, I tried jumping.  No luck.  I tried Mary Poppins' umbrella trick.  No luck.  I recalled hearing a song that went, "There can be miracles, when you believe."  This was definitely going to take a miracle, and I wanted to believe that it would work.

Moments before the clock struck midnight, a weird little guy in green jumped out from behind a tree, handed me this sketchy looking powder, and told me that I could use it to fly.  Creepy, right?  Under normal circumstances, I would have freaked out and run away, but I really wanted to get to Never Land, and nothing had worked yet.  Hoping it was pixie dust, as the tale goes, I trusted him, sprinkled it on myself.  Just before he jumped, he exclaimed, "Think of the happiest thing!  It's the same as having wings!  But the thing that's a positive must, is a little bit of pixie dust.  We can fly!"  This time it worked!
I can fly!
I flew all the way to Gates of Never Land, where I was stopped by the border control and asked to solve a riddle to pass through the Gates of Never Land.  If I answered correctly, they would create an animated version of me, but if I answered incorrectly, I would wake up in my bed at home, banished forever from Never Land.  Anxious, I hoped the riddle wouldn't be too twisted.  Here was my riddle: "Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain?"

At first, I didn't think this was a riddle at all.  It was just a question.  I was about to reply that no, I could not, because I don't sing.  Then, I thought maybe he was referencing the Sound of Music, as in, "The hills are alive with the sound of music."  But no, that couldn't be.  Those were hills, and he spoke of mountains.  It looked like I was about to be banished from Never Land when suddenly, I knew I had the right answer: "Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?"

Get animated!  Free bunny slippers!
Hearing my answer, the guard smiled the biggest, toothiest smile I'd ever seen, told me to wrap myself in a pink, fleece blanket, and step in front of the white curtain, and come through the gate to complete my animation.  He even took a "before and after" photo for me!  Since much of Disney is animated, visitors are required to transform before entering Never Land.  No big deal, it's like covering your shoulders at cathedrals.  I stepped forward and felt a thrill, an adrenaline rush that comes from arriving at a new travel destination.

Before my tour started, I went to check out my animated, new look in the Magic Mirror in the bathroom.  The lack of frizz surprised me, and I thought, "Who is that girl I see, staring straight back at me?  Why is my reflection someone I don't know?"  Unsure about my new look, I asked, "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"  Condescendingly, the Magic Mirror rolled his eyes, "Still Snow White.  "You are deformed.  And you are ugly.  And these are crimes for which the world shows little pity.""  I rolled my eyes, turned to the guard, and said, "He's holding back, he's hiding, but what, I can't decide."  Not amused by the Magic Mirror, I hurried back to the group.  The first event was about to start!

Visits to Never Land run on a strict schedule.  You are carted from place to place, and along the way, you see amazing things.  I couldn't wait to begin!  My itinerary had been meticulously planned, as per Disney standards.  It politely requested that I stay on the path and visit the stops in order so as not to get lost among the twinkling stars.  The itinerary warned that the last mode of transportation would be an enchanted, horse-drawn carriage, and that if I didn't complete the journey by midnight, the carriage would turn into a poison apple - even worse than a pumpkin.

Never Never Land
The guard presented me with a map of Never Land, and pointed out the main attractions like Notre Dame and Pride Rock, and Cinderella's Castle.  He explained to me that since these places are so far apart, various forms of magical transportation would be provided.  The funny thing is that I've been to Notre Dame twice, but I've never been to Disney's Notre Dame.  And I've been to Cinderella's Castle, but never for a ball.  You have to go through Never Land to get there.

I was still getting used to my funny new appearance when the magic carpet arrived to take me to my first stop.  Carpets don't have seat belts, and I was a bit nervous about falling off.  Cautiously, I stepped onto the carpet, which waved its tassels kindly at the guard, and whisked me away into the sky as if I were on a Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride.  It was, "new, and a bit alarming.  Who'd have ever thought that this could be?"

"Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling, through an endless diamond sky."
Guessing that the carpet could speak, I asked how it knew where to go.  To my delight, it replied, "I will find my way.  I can go the distance," but, "when the road looks tough ahead, and you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed, you just remember what you're old pal said.  You've got a friend in me."  In other words, no need to worry.  Relieved, I informed the carpet that I'd be, "lost forever, if I never knew you," and that, "this wide-eyed wanderer," certainly wasn't going to go, "strolling along on those...What's that word again?  Oh, streets."  The carpet smiled.  Well, it didn't have teeth, but it seemed to smile.  It was clear that I had prepared for my visit.  Still, as we flew closer to the ground, arriving at the first stop, I heard the villagers singing about me.  Literally, singing.  That goes way beyond discreet gossip.  They sang, "Look there she goes, the girl who's strange but special.  A most peculiar mademoiselle!"  The carpet assured me that we weren't stopping until Paris, so I knew, "there must be more than this provincial life."

As we approached Notre Dame, I recognized the magnificent rose window - only this time, it was animated.      We landed directly on the bell tower instead of taking the main doors.  That's the advantage of traveling with a magic carpet.  As I stepped gingerly off the carpet, two gargoyles hopped over to greet me.  They had been watching over the city and invited me to check out the spectacular view.  Peering over the edge, one of the gargoyles smiled wistfully and whispered, "There goes the baker with his tray like always.  The same old bread and rolls to sell.  Every morning just the same, since the morning that we came."  Another leaned over to chime in, "All my life I wonder how it feels to pass a day not above them, but part of them."
The gargoyles said my hoodie wasn't fashionable enough for Paris.
Thanking the gargoyles, I descended the steps of the bell tower and hurried to the river, where none other than the Black Pearl was waiting.  The next stop on my itinerary was Pride Rock - no where near Paris or the Caribbean, but Disney is magical, so I tried not to question it.  I'll admit that I was a little curious though.  "I want to know what the people know.  Ask all my questions, and get some answers."  Mostly, I wanted answers about rafting on sea turtles and to hear the, "grand adventure of the infamous Jack Sparrow."

Skipping onto the ship, I transformed back into my normal self since animated characters do not ride on the Black Pearl.  Looking around, I announced, "Hi, I'm Dana," and was greeted with, "I'm Captain Jack Sparrow.  Savvy?"  Very savvy.  And kind of awesome.  When I asked about the sea turtles, Elizabeth sauntered over and added that he had actually, "spent three days lying on a beach drinking rum."  I wasn't sure if that made him the best or, "without a doubt the worst pirate I had ever heard of."  But I had heard of him.  Figuring that Captain Jack's compass still didn't point north; I hoped it pointed toward Pride Rock.

Pirate Buddies
A while later, waving his arms wildly, Jack exclaimed, "I think we've all arrived at a very special place.  Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically."  I looked onto the shore at where he was pointing, and saw the Evil Queen from Snow White.  Was she a friend of Jack's?  We docked near the shore.  I glanced at my tightly scheduled itinerary, and asked if there was really enough time for this extra stop.  Jack waved a grubby hand with filthy nails, shrugged off the question, and proclaimed that itineraries were, "more like guidelines."

I disembarked from the Black Pearl and strode over to meet The Evil Queen, who was picking apples in her orchard.  Alarmed, Captain Jack fell over the side of the ship and came running after me.  The Evil Queen was upset because she had just returned from the Gates of Never Land where the Magic Mirror had once again told her that she was not the fairest one of all.  I told her not to worry.  At least the Magic Mirror hadn't called her deformed and ugly.  Looking around, I saw baskets and baskets of shiny, red apples, and I asked her, "Who makes all these?"  Cackling, she screeched, "I do.  And I practice with them three hours a day."  Skeptically, I inquired, "Practice?"  She really was determined to become the fairest one of all.  Maybe the only one of all too.  Well aware of the apple warning in my itinerary, she knew I wouldn't try one.  Instead, she offered me a platter of apple products, saying, "Try the gray stuff, it's delicious.  Don't believe me?  Ask the dishes!"  She was dismayed, but not surprised, when I told her I was, "disinclined to acquiesce to her request."  Jack asked for a bottle of rum.

Learning to make Poison Apples
Beckoning me closer, the Evil Queen whispered, I'll teach you to make poison apples if you deliver one to my cousin who lives near Pride Rock.  Intrigued, I agreed.  I hoped there was enough time for this poison apple workshop.  I cook fairly basic foods, and can always use more recipes.  After quickly changing into my villain costume, I dipped the first apple into the bubbling green goo.  Captain Jack leaned over and whispered, "if she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will.  You think the world's a wholesome place until," someone asks you to deliver a poison apple to their cousin.

I was about to leave when the Evil Queen offered me the platter of apple products again.  Knowing that this was every bit as sketchy as using "pixie dust" to fly, I took a hint from Jack and stated, "Right, well, we'll be going now. Savvy?"  He looked proud.  Out of nowhere, a rabbit raced by, shouting at me, "You're late!  You're late!"  I actually wasn't, but it was getting close.  Quickly, I declined the gray stuff, wrapped up a glowing apple, and rushed back to the Black Pearl.

I had not opted for the vacation package with the overnight stay at Cruella's Hôtel de Ville, so I needed to continue on, see what was, "waiting just around the river bend," and toss that apple.  I threw the apple into the river, hoping nothing bad would happen to the fish.  Instead, the apple sizzled as it hit the water, and a raging whirlpool, "swift as the coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon," surrounded us.  As we went around and around, Jack did a bit of steering, but mostly held onto his beloved hat.

The river's violent current dragged me under water, where I was surprised to find Sebastian and his crustacean band.  Desperately, I pleaded for his help to get me out of there.  I knew that the waters of Never Land were infested with crocodiles, and I didn't really want to lose a hand like Captain Hook.  Displeased that I had tossed the apple into the river, Sebastian only replied, "If you walk to footsteps of a stranger, you'll learn things you never knew you never knew."  "Yes, yes, I know," I pleaded, "I get that, "every rock and tree and creature, has a life, has a spirit, has a name."  But I need to get back to the Black Pearl.  I was only swimming in diluted poison apple water, but if I didn't hurry, I'd end up in a poison apple carriage later in the day.  Again, I asked Sebastian for help, but he only told me I should stay, saying, "Life under the sea is better than anything they got up there.  The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else's sea.  You dream about going up there, but that is a big mistake...such wonderful things around you...What more are you looking for?"  Panicking, I knew this wasn't a "hakuna matata" moment.

Found a Treasure "Under the Sea"
Sebastian was right, there were a ton of wonderful things under the sea, but I needed to get back to my canoe, or I might be stuck in Never Land forever.  Looking around, I found a lamp that looked quite a bit like the Genie's lamp.  I rubbed the lamp, and gasped a huge sigh of relief when the Genie appeared.  (Future note to self: Do not gasp while underwater.)  The Genie could literally be my saving grace.  As he ballooned out of the lamp, I asked if he could really grant me three wishes.  I only needed one, but three wouldn't hurt.  Charismatic and theatrical as ever, he pulled up a chair - out of nowhere - and responded, "Tale as old as time.  True as it can be!"

So I told him I wanted to go, "up where they walk, up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun.  Wandering free, wish I could be, part of that world."  I had to get to the second stop on my itinerary as soon as possible.  About half a second later, the Genie and I were at the base of Pride Rock.  I promised I would stay on the trail to the peak, and wished for a hiking outfit with a hat to protect myself from the searing, savannah sun.  Stylin' and ready to climb, I thanked the Genie, who reminded me that I had one more wish, in case of disaster.  By disaster, I think he meant in case a pack of hyenas were to surround me.

Everything around Pride Rock was exquisite and inviting.  I couldn't wait to, "run the hidden pine trails of the forest, taste the sun sweet berries of the Earth, and roll in all the riches all around," me.  Of course, after that poison apple ordeal, I decided not to actually go berry picking.  It turned out to be for the best, because it had been so cold lately that all the strawberries turned blue.

While hiking, I kept a keen eye out for a grinning bobcat so I could ask why he or she grinned.  After a thirty minute climb on a nicely manicured path, as per Disney standards, I looked out over the savannah from the top of Pride Rock.  The sun was setting, and I gazed up at the stars, and asked the Genie, "What are those things in the sky?"  He replied, "They're fireflies; little fireflies that got caught up in that blue-ish black thing."  Considering this statement, I responded, ""Oh, I thought they were balls of gas billions of miles away," but thanks.  Good to know.  I was thinking about taking my next trip to somewhere up there."  "Where?" he asked, "To infinity and beyond?"  Smiling I said, "Well, a little closer than that.  But yeah."

Hiking at Pride Rock

The carpet arrived and informed me that it was nearly time for dinner, and that Cinderella's ball, where I would be eating, was a black tie event.  Knowing my hiking attire would not be suitable, I asked the Genie for an elegant dress that would fit in at Cinderella's ball, and I hinted that I had always wanted to wear a fascinator.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I used 2/3 of my wishes for clothes, but I really couldn't turn up at the ball in hiking attire.  That just wouldn't be appropriate.  Reluctant to leave the breathtaking Pride Rock, I hopped back onto the magic carpet in my new dress, bid farewell to the Genie, and sped off to the ball.  I had just enough time to make an appearance and leave before midnight.

I finally got to wear a fascinator!
On the way to the ball, it occurred to me that I was really hungry.  After the poison apple incident, I had been afraid to eat anything.  On some trips, you can't drink the water.  On others, you can't eat the apples and now I couldn't wait to get to dinner.  The carpet landed after a twenty minute speed flight.  My hair was a bit windblown, but not too bad, and still not frizzy.  Animation is a great substitute for hair gel.  As I entered the ballroom, Lumière skipped over to greet me, saying, "Ma chère, mademoiselle, it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight.  We invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair, as the dining room proudly presents your dinner.  Be our guest!"  After a lovely day of sightseeing in Never Land and escaping from poison apples, this was just what I needed.  I watched in amazement as the spoons, plates, and cups sang and danced in front of me as they served my meal.

The weird part about the ball was that I was the only one eating.  All the other guests were just vying for Prince Charming's attention.  I watched all my Disney classics when I was little, so I knew not to bother.  Obviously, he was going to pick Cinderella.  And I was going to pick the, "beef ragout," and, "cheese soufflé," with, "pie and pudding en flambé," for dessert.

Keeping an eye on the clock, I knew the precise time I needed to meet my carriage outside to take me back to the Gates of Never Land.  There's nothing like the threat of death by poison apple to make you a punctual tourist.  When the carriage arrived to meet me, I couldn't believe it had been transformed from an apple.  It was beautiful, and the thought of it turning into an apple seemed utterly ridiculous.  Still, I didn't want to take any chances.  I rode back to the Gates of Never Land, thanked the driver, and said good night to the guard.  From there, I pinched a speck of pixie dust and sprinkled it over myself.  By this point in the trip, I had come to accept, or hope, that it really was pixie dust.  As soon as I passed through the Gates of Never Land, I was transformed back into my normal self.  Reflecting on the enchanting day I had spent roaming the sights of Never Land, I leaped into the sky and zoomed back to my life.

Home before midnight? Check.  Wearing both shoes?  Check.
"A whole new world,
a dazzling place I never knew...
Unbelievable sights,
indescribable feelings,
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling,
Through an endless diamond sky,
A whole new world,
a hundred-thousand things to see...
I'll chase them anywhere,
there's time to spare,
Let me share this whole new world with you."

Special thanks to Disney for the inspiration to create this post, as well as the quotations, characters in photos, and background of several photos.  Huge thanks to Yahoo Avatars and for animating me.  Thank you to google for searching for the other photo elements for me.

Photo Key
1., Disney, Yahoo Avatars
2. google
3. New Hampshire CAS Sargent Honors Camp
4. New Hampshire CAS Sargent Honors Camp
5. StuVi 1413, Yahoo Avatars
6. Disney, Disney, Disney, and Disney
7. Disney, Yahoo Avatars
8. Disney, Yahoo Avatars
9. Towers 2W, Disney
10. Disney, Yahoo Avatars, google
11. Disney, Yahoo Avatars, google
12. Disney, Yahoo Avatars
13. Disney, Yahoo Avatars
14. Google, Miss Sixty C/Fuencarral in Madrid


  1. Wow! Another amazing story! I so enjoyed reading this, Dana! You are quite a writer!
    I also enjoyed all of your travel photos - you are quite the world traveler!

    Aunt Beth

  2. i had to tweet this blog to my 4k followers ....loved it dana....

    1. Hi Tasha,

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for sharing it.