A Thank You Note

Lately, I’ve been looking back, trying to figure out where exactly all of this DisNerdia “clicked” into place for me. I’d been a relative fan of it all my life, loving it as a kid, trying to be “cool” in junior high and not let that love show around the other kids in class. I remember seeing The Little Mermaid shortly after it was released on video, and thinking to myself, “This isn’t bad – for a kid and girl movie.” So what brought me out – what made me truly embrace the nerd within when it came to all things Disney?

Was it a movie?

Was it music?

Was it a person?

As it turns out, it was all of the above, combined into one experience, dating back to my sophmore year of high school. And I wonder if the person involved in this ever realized his actions and words had such a profound effect.

Brian and I were both involved in performing arts in high school, having been in a few shows together and in the same choir class. We knew each other, but in all honesty, that was about it. Then, there was a movie poster that changed everything:

Walt Disney’s Fantasia was going to be released into movie theaters for a limited 50th anniversary run. Last time I had seen Fantasia I was about 8, and, aside from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, I remembered little from it. Yet I did want to see it again. Brian put sign ups in the choir room so we could go as a group, and I signed up. As it turned out, not too many people signed up, and it was in question whether the outing would happen. Being 15 years old at the time and having no transportation, I was prepared to not be able to go, but Brian offered me a ride to the other side of town to go see it. I must admit, I felt a little out of place on that car trip, not really knowing anyone all that much on our way across town, feeling a bit like a charity case being taken along for the ride. But it would all be worth it.

Seeing something as innovative and mind blowing as so many of the sequences were on a big screen blew me away. The idea of classical music providing the backdrop for some pretty stunning images (it still amazes me how well early hand-drawn animation has held up over the years) left me pretty speechless. I fell in love with the movie, the accompanying music, and really rekindled my appreciation for the Walt Disney Company as a whole.

The final segment, “Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria,” still amazes me with its contrasts of good and evil, chaos and peace.

In Brian, I found someone who shared this appreciation, someone I could talk about the newest releases and soundtracks to, as well as discuss company history and love of theme parks with. Beyond the realm of Disney, this actually helped me realize it was okay to like things some might consider “kids’ stuff.” It was okay to be my own person, with likes and dislikes apart from others. Brian and I kept contact through the years, even turning up (unbeknownst to each other) to the same group interview for The Disney Store. (For the record, we both ended up with part time jobs there!) We have since remained in touch and continue to be friends, one of our common bonds among many being our appreciation for Disney. It’s been nothing short of amazing to see our daughters have so many interests for things such as Disney movies, music and fields such as Imagineering!

This post stands as my thank you letter. To Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski for envisioning Fantasia. To the Walt Disney Company for giving it a 50th anniversary theatrical release. And to Brian, for taking pity on a 15 year old kid and giving him a ride to the theater to see said movie. That small act of kindness meant more than you know in my life.

So, dear readers, do you have anyone to thank for your love of Disney? Parents, friends, teachers, relatives…even Walt himself? Take the opportunity to do so, whether by blog post, a note, or a salute to the “Partners” statue in Disneyland as you walk by.

And then…. feel free to pass that love on.

12 thoughts on “A Thank You Note

  1. I would have to thank/blame my parents for taking my brother and I to Disneyland almost every other weekend from 2nd-5th grade. I was OBSESSED to the point that my teachers forbid me from doing reports/presentations on Disney or Disneyland. I remember writing a biographical report on Walt Disney in 3rd grade, and I was pissed with this other girl in my class who also did a report on Walt but got a bunch of info wrong. In contrast to you, I’ve always lived my Disney loud and proud, as I have with many things in life (being in Boy Scouts and marching band, liking musicals, etc.) and I have never been bothered with people that made fun of me. Despite everything going on in my life, Disney has always been there for me, which is why I now work at Disneyland to give that back to the rest of the world.

    • Gregory, I think it’s awesome that you’ve always been adamant about Disney, and I for one could see 9 year old Greg stewing in the back over misinormation. Love it!

  2. Cool story! Unlike you, I’m not sure when exactly my love for Disney started. I went to Disneyland a lot when I was young too, and my Dad would encourage me to plan out the trips- mostly so he wouldn’t have to walk back and forth across the park all day. When I moved to the east coast right before high school is when I became absolutely obsessed, and started getting involved with fan sites and collecting and reading anything I could find on Walt, mostly because I missed Disneyland. But it had started way before then. I probably owe my love of Disney to my Dad, who also loves Disney and at one point collected all the local newspaper clippings about Disneyland. He showed me his memorabilia box one time, it’s incredible.

    • I’d love to see that memorabilia box! My dad just recently shared home movies from Disneyland in 56 and 57 with me. Nothing short of amazing.

  3. I blame 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Haunted Mansion. I grew up to DIsney, like most kids in the West, and have particularly vivid memories of coming home from school every day to watch the line-up on the Family Channel (Canada’s version of The Disney Channel). My earliest memories of Disneyland are actually promotional clips of Frontierland from the original Mickey Mouse Club. However, I went through that same process of growing into a teenager who wasn’t “supposed” to like kidstuff. I didn’t break out of that until well into my Twenties, and it came by virtue of 20,000 Leagues and the Haunted Mansion. The former was due to my love of Victorian Sci-Fi and not being able to escape the shadow cast by that movie. The latter was due to my growing interest in old school monster movies and mid-century monster kitsch, of which the Haunted Mansion was a pretty major expression. The Haunted Mansion led me to the Disney Villains, which led me to Disney’s fairy tales, which also appealled to my Gothy, Victorian Romantic side. 20,000 Leagues broke the seal on Atlantis and Tarzan and “Mictoriana”. It wasn’t long until I was writing term papers on Disney and principles of exhibit design for my museums and heritage undergrad. I finally bought my own passage to Disneyland when I was 27 ^_^

  4. I’d have to say that my dad was the reason for my Disney induction. My first trip to Disneyland was when I was 5 years old and could barely see above Dumbo’s ears, and I loved every minute of it. After that I was at Diseny at least once a month with my Dad on business trips. My dad introduced me to
    the Magic Shop on Main street that first trip, and every trip there-after we
    would always make that our last stop on the way out of the park to get a new trick for me to play with on the drive back home.

    A couple of years later my grandmother had a stroke, and instead of sitting around the house in Palm Springs, my dad decided to get the kids out of the house and go to the Park. The 3 of us hit every single ride in the park that we wanted to go to 4 times that day, dodging the parades, hitting Star Tours time and time again, Splash mountain, Etc. My dad turned what was a personal tragedy for him, into something magical for me and my cousin.

    Today it will be 2 years without my Papa. Unfortunatley he passed away before I was abe to take his inspiring me 30 years earlier to making one of my dreams come true and working at Disneyworld.

    This past weekend I took my own boys to Disneyland for the first time, as a memorial to my dad. Unfortunatly I was unable to bring myself to stop by the magic shop, but I did take them to the Blue Bayou, one of Dad’s favorite restaurant in the entire park. We walked by the Partners statue as well and I gave a silent thanks to both Walt and Dad for bringing something that I can share with my kids, and hopefully pass the tradition along to their kids,


  5. Great story Craig! My parents brought us to Disneyland when we were kids and we loved it. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area we could only go during summer vacations. And only about every other year. But it was so much fun!

    Well the years went by…as a teen I lost that desire to go back. Didn’t think it was a “cool” thing to do. And I pretty much lost that whimsical attitude I had as a kid. What an idiot I was! Well of course then I spent more and more of my time “climbing the corporate ladder ” and becoming quite successful in my career in the telecommunications field. I got married and I believe it was when I first held my newborn son…that I realized how much I wanted him to see Disneyland! And it hit me how long it had been since I had been there. And it took the birth of my son to take me back to a place I had forgotten about.

    That life is about wonderful adventures…that its ok to “let go” and become a kid again. And that feeling has stayed with me all this time. My firstborn is now 21, and my other beautiful boy is 18. And we have had so many fun times at Disneyland and DIsney World that I cannot believe at one time I thought it wasn’t “cool” to be there!

    To this day Disneyland is still the one place for me ( and I can tell it is too for my sons!) that I really let down all the “guards” and become a little kid again! It really feels like coming home. And I thank my boys for this.

    • Awesome to hear, Terry! I think that’s reallythe magical thing about Disneyland. When you “let go,” you really just kind of experience it through new eyes, and with a child it’s tenfold. I’m loving hearing these stories!

  6. Ahh. What an awesome post.
    I love stories such as these, just being able to hear where everyones Disney roots began is pretty touching I think. It’s beautiful to see that love being handed down to the younger generation and hearing about that appreciation that now radiates from your daughter. Too cool. 😀

    I would say that my appreciation and love for things Disney sprouted right from my parents and how they raised me. They always took me to Disneyland and spoiled my brother and I with vacations every month or so. My first trip to Disney was when I was about 3-4 months old and my parents always told me that there was a sense of peace and calm they noticed when I was there. I guess I never grew out of that. But if you wanna go further back…

    My father was big on animation when he was younger. Like Walt, he would spend much of his time drawing and creating characters. When my dad was a teen, he’d draw caricatures in class. Many of them were of people he knew, and even his own teachers. His drawings were very hilarious and whimsical, and he appreciated Walt for his artistic and creative abilities. I remember looking through one of my dads many books in his art library, and this one was one of those “The Art of Disney Animation” books that his friend from art school gave to him and just becoming totally transfixed by it. Probably in the way my dad was too back in the day. My dad was an amazing artist! I wish you could see some of his stuff because it really is incredible. Nowadays he still creates characters of his own and has taken up sewing and making up stuffed creatures for my family and I to get a chuckle out of. Even though of course, I never knew Walt, I can kind of sense a little bit of what Walt was like in my dad…if that makes any sense. My dad was always innovative and so was Walt. I see Walt in him. Unfortunately, I didn’t get all the artistic ability like he has, but I do have some, and I’m thankful for that.

    Right from the get-go, when I was born my parents had me watching the classics with them, Snow White, Bambi, Pinocchio, all those, and with every new release they’d buy the VHS for me and we’d watch them together multiple times. Eventually my brother was sucked in too when he was born and there was no turning back. I have vivid memories from the DisneyParks too. From a time when I was old enough to remember meeting Mickey, to the first time my mother thought I was ready to experience the Haunted Mansion. The park was surprisingly vacant that day and we both sprinted racing each other to the mansion. That moment I remember so fondly because my mother was so overjoyed she literally turned into a child, and that’s pretty much what the magic of Disney can do to a person. I get to see and experience my mother as she was when she was a kid every time we go. I mean, how amazing is that? It makes you remember that it is important to embrace your inner child…because the adult world…well it can be tiring, and I haven’t even experienced half of it yet. In college my love for it has become even more intense and rather than hiding it I love to share with others, and my goodness, I’ve met some great people who love it too. I just can’t wait to share my love for the company with my children one day. They will be raised like princes and princesses I can guarantee you that.

  7. Pingback: Creating Magic – Who Inspires You? | Confessions Of A DisNerd

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