My Disney World.

(This is the first short essay for my project. I have an Intro page, but it needs more work. But I don’t want to keep anything that IS complete from my clammering readers! So enjoy this first essay. And comments are welcome and encouraged!)

My Disney World.

In 1994, I was a fifth grader and like everyone else in my class, had seen The Lion King about six times during the summer. Even as a 10-year-old, I was captivated by the artistic skill possessed by the movie’s illustrators. The colors in the sunrise during the opening scene, the way the birds flew in the sky–every detail made me forget it was animation. Inspired, I knew when I grew up, I wanted to be an artist for Disney Studios, but I had to start practicing right away!

I collected The Lion King cards from Burger King kid’s meals and practiced drawing “Simba”, “Timon” and “Pumba” for hours in my room. I never tired of my parents’ reaction to each completed sketch, their disbelief and puzzlement.

“Without tracing?” my mom would ask.

“Nope!” I beamed. I was even impressed with myself.

Around this same time, an artist from Disney came to Seattle for a conference. Without hesitation, my mother drove me and a folder overflowing with drawings to where this man was speaking. When we arrived, I found myself speechless and awestruck as I stood just three feet away from him. As he spoke, my thoughts floated away and I imagined how this man might respond to the sight of my artwork.

“You did these yourself?” he asked in my dream. “YOU?”

I would, of course, maintain my youthful modesty to such a question with a simple nod.

Then he would exclaim to everyone in the room, “I’m sorry, ladies and gentleman! I must leave immediately to take this young lady to Disney Studios! Her talent is undeniable and must be harvested!” Taking my hand, he would escort me to his limo outside. We would drive to the airport, our flight bound for Orlando, as I was destined to become the youngest Disney illustrator ever!

Of course, the man from Disney did not take me back to Orlando with him, but he did look at my folder of drawings and even gave them a compliment or two. His response was more than enough to fuel my passion. So I drew constantly, studied Disney characters, and checked our mailbox everyday for letters from Disney Studios. Surely, they’ll send for me any day, I thought to myself. Any day

My aspirations remained the same until my sixth grade year, when they abruptly ended. Our teacher brought a video camera and recorded each student confessing their deepest desires. She said when we were really, really old and returned for reunions, we would watch the video and muse over our childhood dreams. So after stammering into the camera about being an artist for Disney someday, an eavesdropping fellow student dropped a bomb.

“You know when we’re grownups, cartoons will only be made by computers,” he said bluntly, like a direct punch to my abdomen.

“No, they won’t!” I said defiantly. But the seed of doubt was already planted, my dreams suddenly uncertain like they never were before.

I raced home.

I checked the mailbox.

No letter.

No matter! I refused to recognize the validity of a malicious boy’s comments. I would not give up on my vocational dreams! I would draw, draw, draw and soon, very soon, a letter from Disney would arrive offering me a position. Or a man with a limo would arrive on my front door urgently seeking my profound tutelage! Nothing would deter me from pursuing my dream as a Disney illustrator because I knew, for a fact, animated movies would always be made by hand and never by digital pixels that strip away the real craftsmanship and artistry of animated film!

Six weeks later, Disney released its first computer-generated Pixar film, Toy Story. And still, there was no letter in our mailbox.

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