Jeff Dixon's Blog

July 9, 2013

Walt Disney loved America. He loved the idea that you could dream, work hard, and make those dreams come true. The history of his life reveals a man who believed in his dreams, chased them with a passion, worked hard, risked it all (and lost it all)…and never stopped trying. Eventually, his dedication and commitment paid off and the things he created impacted the world and have left a legacy that continues to this day.

When Walt was working and designing attractions for the 1964 World’s Fair, the state of Illinois sponsored the featured attraction, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. By now, most know the attraction featured a life sized audio animatronic Abraham Lincoln that would speak to the audience, creating a moment to inspire and ignite patriotism. The attraction would eventually move to Disneyland and become inspiration for the even bigger stage show, The Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World.

If we travel back in time to when this attraction was being prepared for The World’s Fair, what many people forget is that the technology was so new that it was being perfected right up until the last possible moment. The time had come for the show to be unveiled but the work was still being completed and many, many, many glitches were being fixed and improved.

The state of Illinois had spend a great deal of money to develop this attraction. Walt Disney had spent money as well, in addition he brought the expertise, the manpower, the man hours, and his reputation was riding on the success of Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. Two days before the show was opened at the World’s Fair, The Lincoln Theater was full. There were 500 invited guests from Illinois. There were members of the press on hand to report and give their review of this premier attraction. The governor of Illinois introduced what everyone was about to see. There was a buzz of excitement charging through the room.

But…there was a problem.

The show did not work. There was a malfunction, a glitch if you will, and the show would not perform as planned. So now the crisis was compounded by all the eyes watching and waiting in the theater. Should Walt let the show run? Did he allow people to see the show explaining that they would be seeing something that was not quite ready? or…..would he cancel it?

The pressure to let the show go on was tremendous.

So under all of that pressure, Walt did the only thing he could do.

He stepped out on the stage and addressed the crowd. He explained what the problem was, why the show was delayed…and then told them there would be no show for them this evening.

Walt Disney cancelled the show.

He promised it would be fixed. And of course, it was. The fix took a week and then…and only then…the show went on as it had been created. **

Walt Disney had done something that reminds us all of an important lesson about doing things well, leading others, and bringing a quality of excellence to work and life itself. Walt was willing to suffer the embarrassment and criticism for the moment because he knew what he was doing was worth it. The short term pain he went through was necessary for the long term gain that he achieved.

Walt Disney would not sacrifice the quality of the show.
His name, his reputation, his creativity, his company, his vision, his dream, and his dedication to excellence were all on the line…and he would not take a shortcut to short-circuit the process.

In life, in our culture, there are many who are willing to take shortcuts, the easy road, or the less than the best pathway to get what they want. Usually it is for immediate gratification or short term gain. Sadly, most people have such a “live for the moment” view of life that they don’t understand there is a difference between “living for the moment” and “living in the moment.”

If Walt chose to “live for the moment” he would have offered his best excuses (and people probably would have understood) and let them see whatever portion of the show worked best. He could have saved some dignity and a little pride. If he would have been “living for the moment” his entire focus would have been on how to not look like a complete disaster that night. He chose something better.

Walt knew that “living in the moment” meant that he would take the heat, the criticism, and the responsibility for doing what was right and delivering what he promised…which was a great show and attraction. “Living in the moment” means that we take and squeeze every bit of life we can out of each moment, never forgetting that it is a moment that we need to use wisely…because this moment leads us to the next…and then next…and the next.

His wisdom, his patience, his leadership all were on display…because” living in the moment” wasn’t that comfortable, but when the show finally opened, living in that moment made it all worthwhile. Sometimes the moments we “live in” can be tough ,uncomfortable, and even embarrassing…but never trade the lessons that can be learned “in the moment” for the short term convenience of “living for the moment.”

The difference is huge…and the decisions you make will determine the kind of impact you will have in the world.



** The historical accounts of this event come from a variety of sources, “Walt Disney-An American Original” by Bob Thomas & “Disney U” by Doug Lipp. There are other accounts of this preview recorded in other places but both of these sources are excellent and worth checking out. The commentary and life application are the work of Jeff Dixon, author of The Key to the Kingdom and Unlocking the Kingdom.
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Published on July 09, 2013 13:49 • 226 views • Tags: america, choices, creativity, decisions, history, life, walt-disney

December 9, 2012

Imagine you are traveling along a frosty, winter road, through a neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri. It is close to 4 am, and the night is bitter cold. Something catches your eye on the darkened front porch of the house you just passed. You look closer and you see it, a young boy is seated on the front porch, playing with toys, eating candy…and next to him is a stack of newspapers…

This is not the usual thing you would expect to see in the early morning hours, on the day after Christmas. But why would it be? The young man sitting there would grow up to be anything but usual…

As you continue to watch, you see the boy finish eating, carefully line up the toys he was playing with, pick up his newspapers and then march away from the house…heading for his next stop. He is the newspaper boy.

The description you just read, is indeed something that you might have seen if you had been in the right place at the right time. The newspaper boy was unknown to the world at that time but would day become one of the most recognized faces and names on the planet. It was none other than Walt Disney.

If you are familiar with Walt’s life you know a little something about his life history. His dad, Elias, bought a newspaper distributorship in Kansas City, Mo., so he became responsible for making sure the paper was distributed each day in a particular region. Owning the route, he then hired paper boys to deliver the papers. Walt, was one the boys that delivered the papers but was paid nothing. That was the down side of being employed by his father. Elias felt that since he provided clothing and food for his son that was payment enough and this opportunity gave Walt a chance to earn his keep and learn responsibility.

Now Walt had a good work ethic for a child. Disney historians recall for us that he earned extra money by delivering prescriptions for a drugstore and would sell extra newspapers on street corners without his father knowing about it. This enabled him to earn a bit of pocket change for himself. He would sweep and clean the candy store across from the school in return for a hot meal. At the end of each school day there was not as much time as he would like for playing with his buddies because the afternoon edition of the newspaper had to be delivered.

Young Walt’s route was in a fairly wealthy neighborhood. His family worked hard to be sure, but they didn’t have much. This neighborhood was full of people that financially made the Disney’s look like paupers. Each day as Walt made his way along the route he was encountering homes and lifestyles that we very different than the life he knew. Every morning at 3:30 am, Walt would trudge out into the streets and in the winter it was brutal and tough. Ice, snow, and frigid temperatures might be waiting for him on any given winter morning. As he made his way to each house he discovered that sometimes the kids in the neighborhood had left out their toys after playing with them at the end of the day.

Walt didn’t have a lot of real toys. The gifts he got from his parents tended to be practical like underwear or a perhaps a jacket. His older brother Roy and his mom would be the ones who set aside some extra money so that Walt and his sister Ruth would get some surprise, special small toy for Christmas.

But on the porches of these homes were toys that Walt had only dreamed of. During the darkness of the early morning hours, Walt would put his paper carrier down and go up and play with the wind-up trains and things. He’d sit there and play all alone with them. Years later he would recall a time when he came to a porch and there were some toys, as well as a box of half-eaten candy. So he sat there and ate some of the half-eaten candy and played.

When Walt talked about these days, he always insisted he always left the toys in good shape and always put them back in the exact same place so the families wouldn’t know he’d played with them. Then it was off to the next porch, to drop off the next paper, and then finish the route and off to school.

The life lessons learned on these frosty front porches stuck with Walt all of his life. Years later, as the head of the Disney Studios, he would take the time each year to give gifts to hundreds of children, making sure each got a large Disney merchandise item, as well as additional gifts. They were all wrapped individually and Walt kept a staff of people working to make this happen in a special area set aside at the studios, it took nearly two months each year to pull it off. The original Toys for Tots logo would be designed by a Disney animator, with Walt throwing his support and energy to the cause…to make sure kids had toys at Christmas.

Many of us face moments in life that we will never forget. A great number of these moments are good memories…others are born in the time of struggle.

Often these moments define us forever…but how they define us is up to each of us as individuals.

The young boy, playing in the cold, was defined by his upbringing…but as he grew older it helped drive him to success. When success arrived, he never forgot what it was like to be in need and desire something that was beyond his reach.

I’m not sure what each of us will face this Christmas season. Perhaps it is a time that is full of good memories and all is right with the world. Perhaps it is a time where you may be struggling…but no matter what you are facing, never forget to learn from what is happening, strive to find something to hold onto and embrace, and whenever and wherever possible…remember to give back to others.

You can make the world a better place…for not only others…but for yourself as well.
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Published on December 09, 2012 12:57 • 142 views • Tags: christmas, hardship, life, toys, walt-disney

July 31, 2012

Most will remember the Mickey Mouse Club. This amazing television show featured a talented group of kids and two gentlemen who were the head Mouseketeers.

Jimmy Dodd and Roy Williams.

Roy was handpicked by Walt for the role.

His nickname became “The Big Mooseketeer” and it was a carryover from a football nickname and the nickname he enjoyed as an animator and story artist at the Disney Studios – “Moose Williams”

Walt Disney first met Roy Williams back in 1929 on the day that Roy applied for a job as animator. He went to the studio and was sent to wait in Walt’s office. Roy sat and nervously waited for Walt to arrive. His portfolio was held across his knees and his hands drummed lightly on top of it as he waited.

The door flew open and an office boy came scampering inside. Going to Walt’s desk the office boy asked, “Are you waiting to see Walt Disney?”

“Yes, I want to be an animator.” Roy replied.

The two of them chatted for a few minutes and then Roy asked the office boy, “Tell me, please-what is Walt Disney really like?”

The office boy paused and then broke into a grin… “I’m Walt Disney!”

The portfolio hit the floor, the drawings went sprawling across the ground, and Roy was startled and embarrassed all at the same time. Roy and Walt picked up drawings from the floor. Roy turned red and Walt was just grinning. That is how Roy first met Walt. The two would become longtime friends.

It wasn’t always easy and just because they were friends didn’t mean you could goof off.

Roy went through a bad spell and eventually his after work activities impacted his job performance. Friend or not he had been warned and the day came when Walt
had to fire his friend. Roy was irate and proclaimed that he could get a job at any studio in town. The truth was he could not, there were not that many
animation jobs to be had and no one would hire him.

He eventually found work in an iron foundry in L.A.. The job was hot, it was miserable, and a long way from the Disney Studios.

One day as Roy was working he looked up and Walt Disney was standing there watching him with his arms folded across his chest. Walt was just watching, not smiling, not
giving any signs of why he might be there. After a few painful and awkward moments for Roy…Walt walked over to where he was working and asked….

“Are you ready to come back?”

Roy said he was and Walt took him back at the studio.

Years later Walt was sitting in Roy’s office going over ideas they were working on and his face lit up and he told Roy he had an idea and it was going to be great.

Walt explained the new concept for a television show called The Mickey Mouse Club.
He told Roy that he was going to put him in the show and was going to call him”The Big Mooseketeer.”

Initially Roy thought Walt was kidding.

He was not an actor, this was not something he could do. But in the end…Roy did it, the reason he explained to others was because, “he had faith in Walt’s vision.”

Roy even designed the famous Mickey Mouse Ears that are now an iconic feature of the Disney Company.

There are many interesting elements to this story but on one hand this is a story of aleader…who was willing to lead with a strong hand and even to the painful thing in firing a friend. It is also the story of a leader who didn’t give up on the friend because they had messed up and gave them another chance. It is also the story of a leader who let the past be the past and gave a moment in the future to this same friend…and it became the thing he is remembered for.

Walt didn’t give up on the Big Mooseketeer…

An amazing story of second chances.

In our lives we all need a second chance.

And although we all need a second chance we are not always deserving of a second chance. Our culture would tell us that “everybody deserves a second chance.” My fear is that we have heard that so often that many believe they are entitled to a second chance. We are not…however, we do live in a world where from time to time we can discover grace.

There is a certain beauty in being given grace. When grace is given to us we don’t get what we deserve….and no one is owed a second chance.

Instead it is a gift. (That is what many people forget about a second chance…it really is a gift. When someone offers us grace, it is more than just amazing!)

When we are given a gift like that we should we receive it…not with a sense of entitlement but with a sense of thankfulness for what we have been given.

There are many lessons we can learn from the story of Walt and The Big Mooseketeer…

Be willing to forgive and give others second chances.

We all need them from time to time…

You never can tell…it might be the break someone needs.



* Roy died in 1976, and was buried in his Mickey Mouse t-shirt and mouse ears hat.
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Published on July 31, 2012 06:04 • 167 views • Tags: animation, gifts, grace, hope, walt-disney

December 22, 2011

Walt Disney made Christmas special for this close to him, especially his family. For 25 years, every December, Walt would sit down and create a news filled Christmas letter to catch up on life with his sister Ruth, who lived in Oregon. He would write about life, about family, and about work at the studio.

On one Christmas in 1947 he wrote to her, "I bought myself a birthday-Christmas present-something I have wanted all my life-an electric train."

He went on to explain that he had wanted one badly as a child, but of course, there was no money for him to have one. So he was making up for lost time and enjoying the one he had purchased. Walt had set the train up in a spare room adjoining his office and he would take a few moments to think and play during the busy work day.

His train was equipped with whistle, real smoke, switches, a station. Walt summed up his love for his toy by saying, "it is just wonderful!"

According to author and historian Jim Korkis, Walt was so enthusiastic about his purchase he offered to buy trains for other family members as well.

It is no suprise to read of Walt's love for trains. This love became a life long passion and one that heavily influenced the creation of Disneyland.

The thing that fascinates me about the story is his willingness to share how much the train meant to him and then beyond that his desire to let others experience the same fun and joy by making sure they had one.

In life it is one thing to have something and find satisfaction in having it...but real living happens when you can share it and give it away to others.

The real measure of success is not how much you get but in how much you can give away.

Walt Disney somehow seemed to understand this. As we approach Christmas it is a lesson that hopefully each of us understand as well.
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Published on December 22, 2011 06:12 • 262 views • Tags: disneyland, family, gifts, sharing, trains, walt-disney

November 27, 2011

Diane Disney told the story about what she called "The Sunday Routine."

After taking daughters Diane and Sharon to Sunday School at church, Walt would drive the girls to Griffin Park where the Disney daughters would get the chance to ride the carousel. Walt would watch them ride, dream of how he might create even better places for families to go, and enjoy the time with his girls.

In remembering those days with her father Diane told author Pat Williams, "He took us on drives after Sunday School. We'd go to Griffith Park and play on the playground equipment and go on the merry go round for an hour or two or three. He never got tired. Sundays were so much fun and what made them so much fun is that Daddy was never impatient with us. He was just there enjoying us. Yet at the same time, he was analyzing what we were enjoying and why."

In her memories of those times she remembered that there was an apparatus that had rings sticking out from a slot. The game was to grab a ring as you went by on the ride. If you got the brass ring you would get a free ride.

On one particular day she kept getting the brass ring and was feeling a bit proud and oh so clever. But she remembers it being an amazing day of fun...riding and playing...and having a great day with her Dad.

Years later she asked Walt about that day and he remembered it. She asked him, "How did I keep getting that brass ring?"

He smiled, laughed and said, "Oh, I gave the kid running the ride a few dollars and kept putting the rings where you get them."

Why?
Because a father wanted to see his daughter be successful, he wanted to see her smile, and wanted to enjoy the day. She didn't ask him to do it...he just did. Because it brought him joy as well.

I believe that is a powerful illustration of how a father loves his children. As the daddy to two girls I too love to see my kids smile, love spending time with them, and love to see them experience the joy of just living and experiencing life. It brings me joy as well.

On a week where we spend some time being thankful I am reminded that I have a Heavenly Father who has blessed me in more ways that I can imagine. And I am thankful for that. I am blessed beyond what I have even dared to ask or hope for. I am thankful for that is well. I hope you have taken some time this week to reflect and give thanks for the blessings in your life. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Published on November 27, 2011 06:51 • 159 views • Tags: children, fun, love, parents, thanksgiving, walt-disney

November 16, 2011

Walt Disney was on a first named basis with everyone. That was the way he wanted it. He made sure that the people around him called him "Walt" and he called them by their first name. Why did he insist on this? Great question.

The history of Walt's life as assembled by a number of biographers seem to suggest at least two reasons.

Reason One : Walt wanted everyone who worked at the studio to feel equally valued.

Reason Two : Walt wanted everyone to feel the ideas they had and the contributions they made were equally valued as well.

In essence he was trying to open the lines of communication and was trying to help people understand they were important. Perhaps this is best illustrated by a little known story about Walt Disney. One of his favorite charities was the John Tracy Clinic for the Hearing Impaired. Spencer Tracy, the actor, was a dear friend of Walt's and the two played polo together. Spencer's son is the person the clinic is named after.

Walt Disney helped found the clinic in 1942 and then employed John Tracy as an animator for the studios. Walt worked hard to make the clinic a success. In the 1950's and 1960's he would volunteer his staff to cater and entertain at the clinic's annual fundraising event. Walt himself was an active participate in these money making events. Now many would think that Walt would host the event, perhaps bring his television personality to the stage to emcee the event, or even be the featured speaker. He did none of those things.

The guests who came to the dinner would see Walt there to be sure, but he was working. He filled water glasses and mingled among the tables chatting with potential donors. Then before the speaker would take the stage Walt would be clearing dirty dishes off of each and every table.

Walt understood the value and importance of people. He wanted them to understand it as well. And a lost quality that Walt had that made him special was simple yet important. He had the heart of a servant.

In a day and age where most people seem to reflect a sense of entitlement...this attitude is not just needed but essential for culture today. Bringing joy and discovering the joy of servanthood is what makes a difference in the lives of others...and it makes the life of the one doing the serving better as well.
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Published on November 16, 2011 13:10 • 156 views • Tags: charity, joy, person, servanthood, walt-disney, work

November 11, 2011

The place is the Walt Disney Studios. It is in the early 1960's. The place is a beehive of activity and the studio is on the cutting edge of creating entertainment for television, film, and of course...theme parks.

In a story first recalled by animator Floyd Norman, there was an incident that took place on this particular morning.

A horse drawn carriage arrived at the gates of the studio. (Yes, you read that correctly...a horse drawn carriage) This horse drawn carriage was driven by a little white haired lady. Sitting on the perch of her seat on the carriage she leaned down and promptly told the security officer at the gate, "I am here to see Mr. Disney!"

"Do you have an appointment?" The officer asked looking at his registry for the day.

"No, I don't. But I need to see him."

"You can't see him without an appointment," the guard said. "He is a very busy man."

Crossing her arms and rising up just little bit taller in her seat she declared, "I am not leaving until I see him!"

The guard placed a call to the administration office and eventually word reached Walt that there as a nutty and very stubborn woman at the gate who was demanding to see him. So Walt did what he thought was best. He walked out to the main gate to meet her.

As he stepped outside the gate he leaned against the carriage, talked about the horse pulling it, he smiled, he laughed, and engaged this strange woman in lightheared conversation. He learned that she had written a movie script. That was the reason that she needed to see him, she wanted to give it to him, because she knew it was the perfect film for the Disney Studios to make.

Walt gladly accepted the script with the promise, "I will definitely read it."

The woman left satisfied and Walt kept his promise and read the script.

Now, in writing this account of Disney's life I would love to twist the story and tell you the script Walt was given that day became the biggest money maker in the history of the film industry, or that it became a classic Disney film, or that you will remember the movie that was made....I can't do it. The reality is that the script wasn't really that great and it was never made into a movie.

That of course, is not the point.

The point is that the executive of the studio left his office, came to the main gate, talked about horses, and made a promise (and kept it) to a crazy woman who demanded to see him. That was something that Walt understood. (I am not saying he understood crazy...keep reading) He understood the importance of people. He put a value on people. He treated everyone the same. It was said that it didn't matter if it was a king, a president, or a ticket taker, he would always give them the same attention. He was humble enough not to always be talking about Walt Disney. He cared enough and valued people to put others first.

And that is a life lesson that would radically change many of our lives and ultimately change the world. Learning to put others first. Sometimes that is a value or a quality that is lost in our society and culture today. But it only takes a few people to remember what is most important..real people, like you and I, and if we are willing to put others first...learn to care...we really can change the world and make a difference!
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Published on November 11, 2011 04:23 • 204 views • Tags: difference, disney-studios, disneyland, life, people, theme-parks, walt-disney

October 30, 2011

It was in the 1950's when Walt Disney placed a phone call to Santa Monica High School and asked the drama teacher if there were any promising students that year in their graduating class. The teacher mentioned one, a talented actor, named Ken Wales. So Walt issued an invitation to Ken to come to the Burbank Studio and spend some time with the head of the studio. Ken did and for three days Walt Disney mentored him. He gave him a behind the scenes look at the studio and a personalized tutorial on every aspect of film making. They spoke of crafting a story, creating effects, and pulling all the elements of film together.

Ken Wales would later recall to author Pat Williams, "I spent three days with Walt and he was my friend for life. He didn't just teach me the fundamentals of film making, he taught me the fundamentals of creativity."

He explained that Walt did not just teach him to dream big but instead taught him to dream beautifully. He saw the reason that Walt Disney films have remained timeless...they contain imagination, values, warmth, and delight.

The three days with Walt changed Ken's life forever. On the last day Walt wrote Ken a check, a personal check , for $5000. Walt gave Ken a fully paid scholarship to USC to study filmmaking. Those years at USC directed the trajectory of Ken Wales' life.

After graduation Wales became involved and active in a variety of projects. He partnered with Blake Edwards and helped to create films like The Great Race, The Pink Panther, Islands in the Stream, The Prodigal for Billy Graham, and the highly acclaimed TV series Christy. He also became an executive with the Walt Disney Studio and The Disney Channel.

Wales went on to teach filmmaking at USC. According to Ken it is a "way to give back what I was given. Walt Disney mentored me, and now I mentor my students as a way of honoring Walt and repaying him for the kindness and generosity showed to me when I was a high school senior."

Please make sure you hear the important takeaways from the story just told. Walt Disney was not just dreaming of the future, he was helping to create it.

He leaned into the future...not just by making educational films and television productions (which he did), not just by endowing a school of the arts (which he also did), but most importantly he poured his life into the lives of people. He mentored, he trained, he lead, he gave them opportunity, he coached. He knew the most important resource for shaping, molding, and creating the future was in people.

Who do you pour your life into? Who is pouring their life into you?

We exist so that we can make a difference and impact the world around us. You are the product of others who have taught you, mentored you, and somehow poured their life into you. The world we live in is overly consumer oriented, we live in an entitlement culture where too often everyone is in it for what they think is owed to them. How about giving back and pouring your life into others. By doing so you are also leaning into the future and the life you impact...well...you just never know what might happen. Think about it.
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Published on October 30, 2011 12:00 • 189 views • Tags: coaching, disneyland, future, impact, mentoring, passion, walt-disney, walt-disney-world

October 23, 2011

The year was 1923 when Walt Disney boarded a train for Los Angeles with some samples of the animation work he had done in Kansas City. At the time Walt had a whopping $40 in his pocket and was off to reunite with his brother Roy who was already living in Southern California.

Upon arriving he needed a place to live so he moved in temporarily with his uncle Robert. Needing a place to keep working, desiring a place to call his own, and seeing the value of a place where he could work...Walt convinced his uncle Robert to rent him his garage. Walt then talked Roy into helping him and this garage became the very first (and extremely primitive) Disney studio.

After all these years it is sometimes easy to forget all the work, all the sacrifice, and all the places that Walt worked and dreamed before you end up in places like Disneyland and Walt Disney World. But this is the important thing to remember...without the hard work in the garage or the workshop...Magic Kingdoms never become a reality.

It would be nice if we could shortcut the process. Sometimes we long for something to just show up and make us successful. But the reality is that anything of value is worth working for...and time and time again, history reveals that the dreamers and doers worked to create and make their dreams come true.

If you have a dream chase it, work for it, and keep pushing as you strive for it. Don't be afraid of the beginnings that take place way off the beaten path and out of the spotlight (even if it is in a garage) The garage of dreams becomes the workshop where dreams become reality. Maybe it is time for you to roll up your sleeves and get to work!

As a side note: Uncle Robert's garage is now a part of history preserved forever. Today you can find it at the Stanley Ranch Museum in Garden Grove, California. Walt Disney's first studio stands as a reminder that it takes work and risk to make dreams come true.
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Published on October 23, 2011 06:49 • 147 views • Tags: beginnings, disneyland, dreams, studio, walt-disney, walt-disney-world

October 15, 2011

There is no place like a Disney theme park during the holidays. If you have ever been there you realize that the lights, the decorations, and the atmosphere make these amazing places even more magical than usual... as hard as that is to believe.

During the early years of Disneyland, Walt Disney decided that they needed to create and add a special Christmas parade to the park for the holidays.

Disney always referred to his accountants as "bean counters." And as you might imagine any idea Walt had always caused the bean counters a bit of stress. This Christmas parade was no exception.

Once the cost of the parade was totaled up it was going to be a $350,000 extravaganza. According to Disney historian Les Perkins, the bean counters approached Walt and said, "Why spend money on a Christmas parade? It won't draw people to the park. The people will already be here, so it is an expense we can do without. No one will complain if we don't have a Christmas parade because no one is expecting it."

Walt said, "That is the point! We should do the parade precisely because no one's expecting it. Our goal at Disneyland is to always give the people more than they expect. As long as we keep surprising them, they'll keep coming back. But if they ever stop coming, it'll cost us ten times that much to get them to come back."

He understood that surprising people, giving them more than they bargained for, taking the time and going the extra mile was worth it in many ways.

We all realize how much it means to us when someone puts for extra effort, goes the extra mile, adds just a bit more detail and the end result is something that gives us more quality, a better experience, and enhances our life. I wonder if there are times that each of us need to take an extra moment and ask ourselves, "is there something a little extra I could do that might surprise and do something so unexpected that I might just make another person's day?"

Walt Disney was always trying to "plus" the guest experience and he wasn't afraid to go to the extra effort or expense. Today...take a moment and try to "plus" the day for someone else. It makes a difference. You make a difference!
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Published on October 15, 2011 07:01 • 307 views • Tags: christmas, disneyland, effort, plus, quality, walt-disney