When news broke of the loss of Annette Funicello to complications of Multiple Sclerosis, the message boards exploded with people remembering her. Last night, as I was working on a different blog post, I was struck suddenly by how the Disney landscape has changed over the past months with the passing of some of the great Disney Legends.
You may remember that it’s been about 13 months since we lost Robert Sherman, another great Disney Legend, at the age of 86. Losing these incredible Disney icons, in some ways, really is like losing a member of your own family. For so many people, seeing these incredible people on television or in movies, or listening to their incredible music, was like inviting them into your life, and when we lose them, well, perhaps we lose a bit of ourself as well.
As much as I know that death is a part of life, and that, hopefully, those that have passed away know Jesus and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior, and thus, have Eternal Life, the human part of me, the part that loves looking at Disney as more then just a vacation, as an opportunity for us to celebrate who we are — well, the human side of me feels each of these losses more and more.
With each loss of a true Disney Legend, and believe you me, Robert Sherman (1990) and Annette Funicello (1992) were both Legends — it feels like a bit of Disney is being lost.
Each successive death means that one more great person — who lived and breathed the Disney Way — has left us and joined Walt, the Nine Old Men, and many other Disney Legends who left us before.
My friends, I don’t really know where this post is leading me, except to perhaps point out one thing — one very crucial thing that we all need to recognize. Perhaps, in our own ways, those of us that are Disney Bloggers or Travel Agents, or both, or perhaps those of us that just love to go to Disney Parks, wherever in the world we live and go — perhaps it’s time for us to recognize that we are the next generation of Disney Legends. Certainly I don’t mean that in a conceited, arrogant, or proud manner — but what I mean is this. Disney will become what we deem it has become — perhaps not directly, because we don’t control the changes that Disney makes, at least, I don’t, and most of us only play a small role in what Disney does — but indirectly, we hold the keys to what we want Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the other parks to become.
Regardless of whether you agree with this change or that change, whether you think Disney is just all out for the almighty dollar, and not worried about what Disney is becoming, or any of those outside issues, at the heart of it all, to me, what it comes down to are these questions. Does Walt Disney World (et al.) still capture the heart, soul, and mind of my child like it did when I was a child? Also, is the world famous Disney Magic, something that I have written about countless times — does it still exist, regardless of the passing of Legends such as Annette Funicello and Robert Sherman? Well, if it does, my friends, then in my humble opinion, that is what we need to focus on.
Be proud of who you are. Take pride in knowing that you, with your love of Disney, all that it is, may perhaps be the next generation of indirect Disney Legend. Remember those Legends who have left us, because by remembering them, and keeping their love for Disney in your hearts as they did in theirs, you will realize that the love you feel will continue to pass down, generation to generation.
- Annette Funicello passes away at age 70. (mydreamsofdisney.com)