Dear Walt

If You Can Dream

It’s a beautiful quote, isn’t it? What a great notion. It goes hand in hand with the idea of wishing on a star and just believing.

Only… you never actually said that, did you? This quote, often attributed to you – it was never actually yours, was it?

Sure, the notion of such is a great one – after all, we are supposed to follow our dreams. But Walt, the myth of you as a dreamer and magician, a man who never gave up and had a magic touch in everything he did… I know there’s a lot more to it.

In all honesty, the myth side was what drew me to you initially. You created Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, amazing feature films, and made so many people worldwide happy with your special touch. There definitely IS a magic to that! However, to many (myself included), it can be quite disheartening when we don’t always see our dreams come true like we hope they would; at least not in the ways we expected.

I’ve been there. I’ve had opportunities dangled in front of me, only to see them plucked away at the last moment. I’ve wanted these opportunities so badly, as part of my dreams to reach an ultimate goal. But the timing was not right, and I often have found myself questioning my desire and drive. I had a moment like this a couple years ago, and believe me when I say, it was a picture of you that snapped me out of my funk.

Storyboarder

Why this picture? For one, it’s just a great picture. You were telling the story of Pinocchio the way only you could, and pouring all of your energy into it. It showed someone that was working hard and letting his talents shine through. Someone that was having fun but giving all he had to tell his story. It was a refresher of sorts for me – I remembered that you were human – so much more than myth.

This was the Walt that interested me more. The man who had to fight his way to get where he was. The man who was faced with struggles and adversity. The family man who had quite the personality that was often unseen by rolling cameras and the public eye.

A person can look at a legend and be in awe, but to look at the person behind the legend and see what was accomplished as a real person – well, that is where real inspiration is found for me.

 

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This all came to a head when I finally had a chance to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. This was a place I’d wanted to visit for quite a while, but never had the opportunity to do so. I couldn’t wait to explore and revisit so much history, both of you and the history of the Walt Disney Company when it was in your hands.

The first thing I would like to say, Walt, is this museum was gorgeous. It is every Disney fan’s dream. History came alive in so many fantastic ways, from storyboards, to the famed multi-plane camera, to an amazing miniature scale model of your masterpiece known as Disneyland.

 

Animator's Desk, displaying sketches from Walt Disney's Pinocchio.

Animator’s Desk, displaying sketches from Walt Disney’s Pinocchio.

 

A view from above - the Multiplane Camera, first used in Walt Disney's Silly Symphony: The Old Mill

A view from above – the Multiplane Camera, first used in Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony: The Old Mill.

 

Miniature scale model of Disneyland, as seen during Walt's lifetime.

Miniature scale model of Disneyland, as seen during Walt’s lifetime.

 

The history was rich, and really came alive for me here, but what really stood out for me once again were the parts that showed you as a family man:

Walt Disney, family man. Throughout the museum, the Disney "Family Story" is displayed, rich with family history, Walt's personal hobbies & tastes, making sure the public gets a great insight of the man beyond company history.

Walt Disney, family man. Throughout the museum, the Disney “Family Story” is displayed, rich with family history, Walt’s hobbies, and personal stories. This ensures the public gets a great insight of the man beyond company history.

 

 

A “goofball” at times:

 

Fooling around on the set of an Alice Comedy. Pictures like this are some of my favorites of Walt.

Fooling around on the set of an Alice Comedy. Pictures like this are some of my favorites of Walt.

 

A traveler:

 

On a Hawaiian vacation with wife Lillian, and daughters Sharon and Diane. Walt the traveler: A man after my own heart!

On a Hawaiian vacation with wife Lillian, and daughters Sharon and Diane. Walt the traveler: A man after my own heart!

 

 

A Patriot:

 

Detailing Walt and the studio's many contributions to the effort during WWII.

Detailing Walt and the studio’s many contributions to the effort during WWII.

 

I took the opportunity to pose for a picture on the Griffith Park bench placed in the museum. To reflect on you and all you had done. To think that, as a daddy, you sat on perhaps that very bench and began to think of a place that families could enjoy together – now THAT is inspiring!

 

My lovely family and I on "Walt's Bench."

My lovely family and I on “Walt’s Bench.”

 

 

The closer I got to the end of the exhibit, the more melancholy I felt myself getting. I knew what was coming, Walt. And it was breaking my heart. Of course, you didn’t know. You were turning your attention to different projects, looking to the future. Your vision of Epcot – what an amazing finished product that could have been! But we’ll never know, as you passed before it could come to fruition. I entered that last room with a true sadness. The man who I was fully realizing as an extraordinary human being left the world too soon.

 

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A world mourned when you died, Walt. But those of us who were too young to be around in your time mourn, too. We feel the loss of someone who, it seems, had much more left to give. You were working till the end. Dreaming? Yes. But working, brimming with ideas. Your dreams became reality because you were dedicated, thoughtful, and saw projects through. It wasn’t always easy, I know. In fact, one of the most inspiring quotes from the museum, for me anyway, came from one of the hardest times of your life. It wasn’t about making the impossible happen. It wasn’t about life being magical. No, it refers to a time your animators went on strike at the studio:

 

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Why this quote? Because it shows even someone as revered as you had moments of hardship. Times when you were ready to give up – to walk away. Of course, you didn’t, for which many are eternally grateful. But you were willing to admit that you had that type of moment.  And for someone who has felt that feeling far too often, it’s beyond inspiring to know the power of forging ahead even in dark times.

So thank you, Walt. Thank you for all you did. Your hard work. Your determination. For making countless children of all ages happy. For being yourself through the entire process. For being a good family man.

For being human.

Sincerely,

An Admirer

(Note to readers: I realized I barely touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum. I would encourage each and every one of you to try to visit this amazing place should the opportunity arise. It was so wonderfully put together, and truly tells the story of Walt Disney in a way that only family and those closest to him could tell it. For more information, visit the Walt Disney Family Museum website. All pictures from the museum itself were taken by the author upon his visit to the WDFM.)

 

What Disney Taught Me About Love

From Disneyland News: “During True Love Week, a tapestry of romance is woven throughout the resort — from special entertainment and limited-edition Valentine’s merchandise to candlelit dinners for two and new, themed photo locations offering encounters with beloved Disney sweethearts – all for a limited-time only.”

Note from me: Here it is, finally – part two in my posts on “True Love Week.” Sorry it’s taken so long, but last week, this blogger had to call out sick. I look forward to catching up on things soon, and hope to have more consistent material again. This may require some changes to the blog (for the better, of course!), but that is for a later post. For now, onto the subject at hand!

If you may have noticed, I may be a bit of a Disney apologist. I’ll be honest – I don’t agree with everything the company does, but I choose not to focus on that. Instead, I look at all the positives, the magic, the things that are right with Disney. And it far outweighs the negative. Along this note, I’ve noticed Disney gets criticized by many outsiders for its “unrealistic expectations” in many of its stories. It has caused me to look back and see what Disney has to stay in its stories. What exactly HAS Disney taught me, for instance, about love?

I have learned that when you love someone, you’ll go to great lengths to find someone you just met earlier in the day:

Sleeping Beauty

Sometimes no matter how hard you fight love, you have to give in to the twitterpation.

Bambi

Love means you fight to protect the ones you care most about, even when they’ve just told you to get lost.

Lady and the Tramp

Love is looking past differences and appearances. Love is finding the true beauty within.

Beauty and the Beast

Love is loving someone with all of their faults – even if they’re eternally cranky.

Donald and Daisy

Love means taking the time to appreciate the little things with your family, regardless of how tough circumstances may be at the time.

Mary Poppins

Love is being so happy to find out a loved one is safe that you don’t even ask what happened the night before.

Pinocchio

Love is being able to see clearly, perhaps for the first time.

Love is never giving up on the hope that someone is still out there.

Tangled

Love means sometimes you have to let go.

Pocahontas

Love means…..petrified trees as anniversary gifts?

Sometimes, the memories of love last forever.

Up

I know I’ve barely hit on the love lessons learned from Disney – I’d love to hear from others.

It turns out in this myriad of unrealistic expectations, there’s some very real lessons to be learned.

The 15 Day Disneyland Challenge: Day 12

Note: This post is part of a 15 Day challenge with questions referring to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. For more information, or to see all 15 questions, please refer to the introductory post, The 15 Day Disneyland Challenge. As stated in that post, I am not the creator of the challenge – just a willing participant!

Day 12: A Character You Have Always Wanted To Meet (But Never Have)

I really have met just about every character at the park that is used on a regular basis. Thanks to the opening of the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, I’ve even had a chance to meet Horace Horsecollar, so I can cross him off the list! If you ask my daughter, the answer would probably be Pocahontas – the only one of the ten “official” Disney Princesses she has yet to meet. Guess the colors of the wind aren’t included in The Princess Fantasy Faire. However, I do have a desire to meet a particular character. One of my all time favorites, along with Mickey, Donald and Goofy. A character that I know exists, but is almost never seen in the park with the exception of parades and garbage cans.

Give a Little Whistle!

Jiminy, you elusive cricket. Why don’t you ever come out to meet me? I’ve seen you on parade floats – I’ve heard you make appearances at private parties. Yet, no regular visits. The biggest reason I can think of is the idea, that next to Pinocchio, the supposedly miniscule cricket is a behemoth. There’s no “Cricket Hollow,” where, like Tinkerbell, it can be believed that guests are shrunk down to his size. And no, I don’t believe his popularity is big enough to warrant it. It would just be fun to get my picture taken with the fellow.

Yet, he’s in the park regardless. As stated by me so many times before, you hear his voice underneath Sleeping Beauty’s Castle convincing you that dreams come true – all it takes is the wish on the star. He guides your ride vehicle on Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, trying to be the conscience the little wooden head so desperately needs! (Look out! You’re going the wrong way!) He’s on one of many bronze statues that surround the Partners that started it all – a testament to dreams coming true. And of course, he’s there as the face of “Environmentality,” making sure we treat the earth with the respect it deserves – in this case, by throwing our plastic water bottles in properly marked containers (one of my daughter’s favorite things to do at the park, believe it or not!).

Always Let Enironmentality Be Your Guide!

He’s just not out for pictures and autographs. Maybe I’ll start wishing on a different star for that one.

Now it’s your turn! Anyone else out there have a favorite that they’ve yet to meet at the parks?