A year ago, March of 2020 – we were visiting “The Happiest Place on Earth” located in Orlando. Little did we know that the park was going to shut down two days after we left because of a certain virus that was making its way through society. A year later, March 2021 – we are getting vaccines for the virus, temporarily staying in a hotel because of the horrific Texas storms in February, and watching the attempts to finish up a school year while some states still haven’t reopened their schools.
Let’s go back to a happy place, Disneyworld 🙂 This is the 50th year celebration of Disney World being open. Plus, hopefully the celebration of Disneyland reopening at the end of April. I’ve recently been reading the book Disney’s Land by Richard Snow. It focuses on the chaos that happened before the original Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955. The dealings with land, contractors, employees, architecture, horticulture, unions, and the big one – finances. Here are a five fun facts you may not have known:
- Multiple times Walt almost went bankrupt and Disneyland would not have happened. He cashed in part of his life insurance policy, his brother sold his car to pay workers at one point, and the cost of the park skyrocketed from a projected 1.5 million dollars to 17 million dollars.
- The names Disneylandia and Mickey Mouse Park were first considered.
- Ray Kroc offered to have McDonalds as a sponsor and one of the original restaurants in Disneyland. For some unknown reason, Walt declined.
- A plumbers strike threatened the grand opening. Walt had to decide on running restrooms or running water fountains. He wisely chose restrooms.
- Walt chose Art Linkletter to be the TV host and master of ceremonies for the ABC special that was airing live on opening day. Art selected two co-hosts to assist him. One of them was a marginally known actor named Ronnie Regan.
It wasn’t all magic and pixie dust dealing with Walt. His brother Roy was frustrated innumerable times by Walt’s unending borrowing and spending. Workers constantly grew upset with Walt over his obsession with details that no one was probably ever going to see or notice. And his saint of a wife, Lillian, dealt with his anxiety, wild and seemingly impossible dreams, and the amount of time he was away from home.
In spite of his flaws, Walt possessed extraordinary vision. Speaker and author Jon Maxwell defines vision as: “Being able to look forward and see what others can’t.” Walt was a master at that skill.
Maybe you have a vision that no one “gets.” Maybe you want to venture out into a new job, open a business, write a book or song or screenplay, invest in a start-up, create a new ministry, take a trip (when countries open), begin a non-profit, pursue a risky relationship, learn to play an instrument, fight an injustice – the list is endless. First of all, it is 100% normal that people won’t “get” your vision. Expect to go at it alone at the beginning. However, I believe people are looking to follow a vision they can get behind, support, and get excited about. Here are some tips on how Walt communicated his vision:
- Walt showed models, maps, and drawings whenever possible. Amusement parks were looked down upon in the 1950’s. The gloomy forecast was that they had no future. Walt had to continue showing visually what was in his mind – he wanted to create something amazing that had never been attempted before.
- Walt was a gifted storyteller. When he didn’t have visual aids, he would paint a picture using his talented speaking skills. He told the entire story of Snow White to a room full of employees for over 2 hours to convince them to move forward on creating the first full length cartoon movie.
- Walt realized he couldn’t do it all. He would seek out specialists that were the best in their fields and hire them (or give them rights to future earnings). And oftentimes these specialists were so gifted – Walt asked them to create never before seen rides, films, exhibits, and architecture.
Conclusion – What is your version of Disneyland? What is a tiny start you could take today to begin making it a reality? It’s time to stop over planning, overanalyzing, and waiting for everything to be perfect – (I’m speaking first to myself). As author Mark Batterson says, “You are one decision away from a totally different life.”
“Where there is no vision, the people perish . . . ” (Proverbs 29:18)
Love to hear these kind of stories. They become so inspiring. This post author has always been infatuated with Disney 🙂 🙂
Dave: This writing is outstanding and so informative. I learned so much about Walt Disney. Thanks for sharing. It is an inspiration to keep on keeping on against all odds. And Mark Batterson is one of my favorite authors. Thank you.
David; Thank you for these encouraging words. They are so appropriate as we move forward with our hopes, dreams, & challenges for 2021. God Bless you!