How I Met Walt Disney
by Brianna Price
I often wish that I could’ve met Walt Disney in person. How fun would it have been to sit down with the legend himself, sip a hot cup of coffee and ask him how he cultivated his creativity, why he was drawn to animation or even what his favorite color was? This man started from the bottom with a dream in his heart and ended up creating an empire and lifestyle that will live on as a timeless legacy. You would be crazy not to want to meet this man!
But in a strange way, I feel like I do know Walt. It’s almost like I bumped into him once, shook his hand and exchanged a sweet smile with him. When I walk onto the pavement of Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom, with bubbles gliding against the light blue sky, the sound of children’s laughter filling the air and the wonder of Cinderella Castle standing tall, I feel the “magic,” if you will, of who Walt Disney truly was. When I scream my head off on Thunder Mountain Railroad, when I smile from ear to ear while floating in the sky on Dumbo or when I feel that childlike wonder on Peter Pan’s Fight, it’s in those moments where I realize that I meet Walt every time I’m at a Disney park.
Walt once said, “Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” The rides, the shows, the architecture and the characters are all remnants of Walt Disney. Sadly, Disney wasn’t alive to see Disney World come to fruition, but, because he shared his dreams with those around him, those dreams were executed and preserved by talented and tenacious imagineers who made his legacy come to life, so that we could experience the magic of who he was and what he imagined.
It’s phenomenal how one place can, not only introduce you to a historical legacy, but it also can take you back in time. I don’t know about you, but Disney World takes me back to when I was 7 years old, sitting on the floor of my living room in my pajamas, staring up at the TV in wonder of the Disney movies I was watching. As I stand in front of Cinderella Castle, watching Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora emerge from the fog, I can’t help but inwardly becoming my 7 year old self again. The characters that I imitated as a young girl were standing right in front of me, waving in my direction. How can you not turn into a kid when Cinderella herself is doing the “princess wave” in your direction?
But being a kid, perhaps, is just another level of the many layers of Walt. Many times Walt was quoted, saying things about never growing up or that growing up isn’t mandatory. It’s only natural that when you experience Walt Disney World that you are magically transformed into a kid again. All of the sudden you are shoveling popcorn in your mouth with no shame, squealing at the sight Mickey Mouse himself and screaming at the top of your lungs on every ride. The pressure and stress of the world seems to melt away at Disney, as you slowly start to adopt a childlike wonder and joy, just like Walt intended.
Disney World isn’t just a vacation destination for parents to let their kids run wild, enjoy warmer weather and spend money on Disney merchandise. I believe Walt created it to be a “whole new world” that takes people away from the mundane and into the magical. It’s a place where children can experience the magic of their favorite films coming to life before their eyes. It’s a place where parents can relive their childhood and uncover the innocent wonder that so often gets suffocated by the stress of life. It’s a place where we find Walt Disney peeking around every corner, inspiring us to cling to our youthful innocence, reach for the stars and to seek magic in every part of our lives.
Brianna Price (WDW Kingdom Contributor)
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