I’ve shared before about some of the things I learned about Walt Disney and the amazing organization he founded, developed and then inspired. I was told by one of his good friends that his rule was simple: everything has to work, and there’s no chipped paint. As a young father in Los Angeles, he was frustrated when he used to bring his girls to a nearby park and the equipment was either broken or the paint was peeling. Who knew this simple mission statement would yield something so powerful as Disneyland. He saw something that needed doing, and he kept doing it, and then repeating the process over and over again.
Creating the Happiest Place On Earth hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a labor of love. I can’t imagine what kind of powerful leadership it takes to create and run an organization like Disney did. But he was the spark. And today, his legacy lives on because he was able to light that spark in hundreds of thousands of his co-workers and “cast members” around him. Yet, even after all the success he had in business, he never forgot that he was first an illustrator, and never tired of drawing pictures for children, being with children and helping to create happy memories for children of all ages.
Being here in Orlando the past 2+ days, I’m amazed at the lights, the way millions of people wander through his vision, his land, from all over the world, a place where I couldn’t wait to go to as a child, took all my children to, and now my grandchildren. A place where imagination can run wild. We want to share in the experience together, even though the lines are long, the restaurants are hard to get into, where you have to plan ahead to get to go on favorite rides – we all do that willingly and mostly without complaint. Because we want to be connected. People are using their mobile devices to make reservations and work through all the limitations of being in a setting and sharing it with hundreds of thousands of strangers.
We are all connected, and this place shows it, though we are different individuals, we still strive for that “happy” place where we can join our way. The park offers hundreds of ways people can do this. Kids and adults have their favorite lands, favorite characters, favorite experiences from the the choices offered. Entertainment is connection, where we are moved by a performance or talent outside ourselves. We go back again and again to the same things, experiencing the promise consistently delivered over and over again, like a great movie or thrilling book we’ve watched or read or listened to over and over again.
It was powerful last night to watch as the lights on the Castle turned the whole area into a shimmering Frozen wonderland. My little voice was just one. My grandkids screams of enjoyment a few more. Together we shared in the magic of connection with strangers all over the world. And we walked away with a little more sparkle dust. I’m sure when I get home today, there’ll be some glitter in my clothes when I unpack.
I know there’s lots of sparkle in my heart.