Later this year we’ll mark the 10 year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, two devastating storms. If you’ve lived and worked through any kind of natural disaster, you know what kind of toll that can take on a region.
And these two storms combined to affect us in the South in a particular way since Hurricane Rita came so close (geographically and chronologically) after Hurricane Katrina. Since my work involves nasty environmental concerns like asbestos, lead, and mold, I was very busy after the two storms, working mainly along the Interstate 10 corridor between Lake Charles, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi. As you might expect, though, I was spending most of my time in the New Orleans and Lake Charles areas.
At the time, we had three small children, two of which had already had a special interaction with the real Cinderella during our 2004 trip to Walt Disney World:
I was on the road a lot, and work was very busy. In the midst of all this, I happened to hear that Disney was going to release a two disc Cinderella DVD edition in 2005. On the day of the release, I was in Harvey, Louisiana, a town across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. On that same day, I knew the local Barnes and Noble was reopening. I’m a big fans of Barnes and Noble – I’ve spent a lot of time in our local stores goofing off alone or with my family, so I wanted to stop by and buy something, so I bought the Cinderella DVD.
We watched the movie for the first time, and my kids loved it (still do). We’ve watched the DVD about a zillion times since. So the movie has a special place in our hearts, along with our Christmas tree decorations. Buying the DVD where and when I did was one of the many ways I tried to say “we’re back” at different times during the recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And after Hurricane Gustav in 2008, the DVD helped provide a little comfort as we played the DVD in the car as we evacuated in Gustav’s aftermath.
February marks the 65th anniversary of the movie’s release. I’m not sure that anyone could’ve predicted then or at any time how that movie (or any of the other Disney blockbusters) would have such a lasting effect. But what if the movie hadn’t been a success? I don’t care to speculate on the Disney company or Magic Kingdom without Cinderella’s Castle or the characters. Interacting with Cinderella at the parks is a blast, but Lady Tremaine, or the wicked stepsisters set the bar for face character interaction, at least from the “villain” perspective. I’m glad the movie was (and is) such a success, and the Castle is the definitive Magic Kingdom icon. Is it any wonder that Cinderella’s Castle is reportedly the most photographed subject in the world?
Cinderella, and many of the other Disney movies, have given me and my family hours of entertainment, and the park presence has given us so many special memories as well. For me personally, the movie has a special place in my memory because it was a little bit of happiness that served as a distraction from the turmoil all around us.
For Disney fans, at some point, there’s something about a Disney movie, cartoon, TV show, song, vacation, whatever, that is or was an escape of sorts. That’s one of the great things Disney has pulled off over all the decades – a significant accomplishment given how our world has changed in the last 65 years. But I’m glad to see that one thing remains constant – even after 65 years, Cinderella is still a bright spot even compared with other notable Disney accomplishments.