The Wonder of Disney

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got to spend the week after Christmas in California. My family and I went to Disneyland for New Years Eve (WAY CROWDED!!) and then watched the Rose Parade in person on New Years Day. It was great fun, and if you haven't had the chance to see Disneyland dressed for Christmas, you really should go. (I know, that's easier said than done for most of us who count the pennies.)

Anyway, the trip gave me lots of material for blogs, and that's what your going to be hearing about for probably the next month! This first one, I wanted to talk about Walt Disney a little bit.

This man was truly ahead of his time. Disneyland was the first amusement park in the world! I never knew that. There is a web site that has lots of information on Mr. Disney, with a section full of quotes he said during his life. I'm going to share some of them through this blog. The first one (since I went there) is about Disneyland:

"To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America... with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."

I have been to Disneyland before, but for some reason, I hadn't fully appreciated it. Perhaps I have a different perspective now, but for whatever the reason, I was really impressed. My son, when we were finished watching a fireworks/water show special called "Fantasmic" (which was basically a combination of Fantasia and several other Disney movies -- really amazing being shown on water sprays) turned to me and said, "That's what Disneyland is all about. Imagination."

He's right. Mr. Disney wanted to foster the imagination of all, the creative ability in all of us. He helped found a school in California, the California Institute of the Arts. This is a quote about the school:

"I want people to graduate from there really able to do things. I don't want a lot of theorists. I want to have a school that turns out people that know all the facts of filmaking, I want them to be capable of doing anything needed to make a film-photograph it, direct it, design it, animate it, record it, whatever. That's what I want. Heck, I've hired theorists, and they don't have any knowledge I can use. I want to have everyone in that school come out capable of going in and doing a job. These dilettantes who come out with pseudo-knowledge, they give me a pain. I want it so if an actor is needed, they can get an actor right out of school. If a musician is needed, they can go to the music department and find a musicians who can compose music."

I think in today's world of so many computers and electronic media, sometimes our imagination takes back stage to what is happening. Our children don't spend much time outside playing, thinking up games, imagining a world. They spend more time in front of TV, video games, or computer screens.

Personally, our children didn't have access to video games until last summer, and then it has been extremely limited. We fostered their imagination, their creativity. (Well, as much as I could...I'm not saying I'm perfect.) I was thrilled to see my son recognize that there was merit in imagination and the fostering of it.

Art is based on imagination and the ability to create. Most of us have some kind of ability within us to do something -- we just have to find out what it is.

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage."

The more I read about the man, and the more I see what he accomplished, the more impressed I become. I realize he wasn't perfect -- but he sure did a lot to promote artistic endeavor even if it was in the entertainment field.

"Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood."

If only more people understood that thought. And, the moral obligations that follow. It reminds me of the outtakes from Pirates of the Caribbean. There's a scene where Jack Sparrow is talking with the guy from the West Indies Trading Company, and they make a mistake. He swears, but they bleep it out and Johnny Depp tells him, "You can't swear in a Disney film, mate."

"Laughter is America's most important export."

If only everyone felt that way. It would be a far cleaner and kinder world.

Thanks Walt, for what you did to further imagination and dreams of old and young.

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