Monday, March 25, 2013

The Thrill of Exploration

One of the things that helps keep us young is continuing to have a sense of exploration. Walt Disney understood this, and built his park around that concept, allowing guests to walk through the past and then experience the hope of the future. Tom Sawyer Island has undergone a number of transformations over the years (some for legal reasons, others for the love of all things Sparrow), but it still remains a living testament to our inner yearning of discovery. This is why I prefer to go to the park when the crowds are low; it is easier to imagine that I am the first one to see the treehouse perched high over the top of the island (shown here in this vintage 1950's photo).

Without the crowds, I can also take the time to imagine the back story to the Old Mill and why it has been abandoned.

The rickety-nature of the bridges on the island also contribute a bit of danger, adding a bit of a thrill as you traverse the shaking planks.

Castle Rock harkens back to the days of old when kids would build forts to ward off imaginary villains. Today, this would most likely be done on a Sony Playstation.

The ultimate area of exploration on Tom Sawyer Island was Fort Wilderness. Sadly, this area has not survived the years, and only exists as a restroom tacked onto the exterior of the reworked structure.

So much of our imagination is spoon-fed to us today with video games and other technically impressive sources of media. Personally, I prefer to be given a few tools and allowed to come up with a story myself. But that's just me...and as I get older, I feel more like the dinosaurs and old farts that I used to make fun of when I was young.

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more vintage and current Tom Sawyer Island photos on my Tom Sawyer Island web page.


stu29573 said...

I'm a counselor in an elementary school, and it really saddens me that we have a couple of generations of kids that have no concept of imaginative play. Personally I think people under 18 should not have access to electronics. Maybe that's a bit extreme, but the benefits would be incredible...

K. Martinez said...

Glorious B&Ws! I love it!

I prefer using the imagination over being spoon-fed as well. I do however appreciate some of the things today’s technology has brought us like daily blog trips to Disneyland (past and present) as well as improvements in medical care, travel and home life. I also love playing a good video strategy game from time to time.

When I was a child in the 1960s I knew some neighborhood kids who sat passively in front of the TV all day. I don’t think that’s much of a difference in behavior than some of the video game addicts there are nearly half a century later. I just happened to be one of those kids who preferred playing outside and exploring. In my neighborhood today there are still some kids who are out playing most of the day. I’d hardly say they lack imaginative play. It’s the adults who seem more addicted to their electronic gadgets when I visit Disneyland or other public spaces.

What about movies versus books? While I always love reading a good book where your imagination comes more into play, I love a good movie too! I think it’s all about moderation and variety. There will always be pros and cons about new technology, but it’s here to stay. It really is the SOS! It’s just a different cover.

Darryl said...

Dave...nice post and I couldn't agree more. If parents hear from their kids "I'm bored"...they should respond with "GO OUTSIDE!"

Anonymous said...

I'd be "lost" on TSI for hours running around the old attractions and using my imagination while my folks waited, sometimes impatiently, on the mainland for my return. I'd always run at least 30 minutes late. Had way too much fun. I can still recall the rifles in the fort's blockhouses. There usually was a waiting line for them. Welcome to the 'Old Fart's Club'. KS

Daveland said...

Stu - I think both kids and adults get so used to finding the answers on the web that we have become a lot less resourceful.

K. - You are so right. Moderation is the key!

Darryl - If I had a dollar for every time my mom told me to "GO OUTSIDE" because I was drawing/creating in the house, I'd be loaded!

KS - Is there a medal for that club?

Chiana_Chat said...

The bottom pic takes a place among my favs of all the photos you've posted, color or B&W.

All their success and they can't rebuild a crude wooden structure that was part of the recipe that brought that success? Why, a couple showings of Fantasmic! season 20 would pay for every stick. No, much worse; they easily can but don't care to.

Anyway, pardon my lament.

I can identify with you there, Dave. I like to write, just for myself. Create people, places & things in the imagination. Tinkering around with writing is one of my favorite things. Maybe my favorite...

There is a lot of kid in this adult but I think there was always a lot of adult in this kid too.

Anonymous said...

Please let me echo what everyone says here. I loved the old TSI as a kid, and still enjoy it today, even with all the unfortunate changes elapsing over the years.

Children definitely lose out to pre-programmed entertainment. I just spent a week camping with my Scout troop, no electronics allowed. Very interesting to watch the dynamics when the internet is not present, and how it changes when it comes back.

If there is an Old Phart Club, I want to join. I think I'm good at it.

Dave, thank you for the pictures, and a glimpse back at my childhood.

Thanks everyone else in this thread for the conversation. I appreciate it very much.


Daveland said...

Chiana - you are pardoned, as I have lamented the same thing on this blog numerous times.

JG - I'll bet there was a lot more conversation and lively interactions without the electronics!

Anonymous said...

Finally, some more excellent Disney articles after all those movie posts you did. It's your site, so do what you want with it, but people come here to enjoy vintage Disney information…not the movies stuff that's unrelated to Disney.

Daveland said...

Anonymous - Thanks for your feedback; but please don't begin to imagine that you speak for all. My web statistics say otherwise.