DixonOnDisney

Guest Blog: Walt Disney’s Practical Advice for Pursuing Your Dreams

Disney Archaeology time - lets dig into the world of Disney and see what we can discover today - If you could get into a time machine and travel back in time to October 9, 1966 with Walt Disney you would find him in Kansas City. Walt was returning to the Kansas City Art Institute, the very place he attended classes 50 years earlier.

This Kansas City trip had started with Walt being in town to receive an award from an international goodwill organization. He had decided to visit the art institute while he was there. Walt was informally doing research for one of his latest projects, CalArts...and so the Walt Disney rumors swirled around the campus on that day.

Mark Kausler was a freshman art student at the Kansas City Art Institute and like most on campus had heard the rumors that Walt might be visiting. Keeping a watchful eye out, and trying to decide whether or not the rumor had any truth to it or not, he saw a car enter the campus, stop near the main building where the Dean's office was located, and Walt Disney emerge and enter the main building.

Once Disney was known to be on site a crowd of curious fans and autograph seekers began to assemble outside the building. Eventually Walt, the dean, and some other school staff members exited the building and stepped into the crowd of admiring well wishers. Mark Kausler was nervous and waiting his turn as Disney greeted the crowd.

He stammered, "Mr. Disney would you sign my book for me please?"

He presented a copy of Bob Thomas' Walt Disney, the Art of Animation for the legend to autograph. Disney took the book and signed it. Mark managed to tell Disney during this brief encounter that he (Mark) had "always wanted to get into the business."

Walt handed him back his book and said, "You want some advice from me, kid?"
Kausler was awestruck and of course, could only say "yes."
Walt smiled, paused, and then said softly, "Learn to draw."

The entire crowd cracked up and laughed loudly. It was a humorous moment, it was an honest moment, and the impact lasted a lifetime.

The advice was good, heartfelt, honest, and practical. It makes sense doesn't it? If you want to be an animator, then perhaps you should learn how to draw.

What Walt did in that moment was something that we all need to do from time to time. We need to be honest with ourselves and take an honest appraisal of ourselves. In order to chase dreams we need to make sure we have the right dreams. For example, if you have the desire to be the middle linebacker for an NFL football team, but you are only 5 feet tall and weigh 98 pounds, realistically you are probably chasing the wrong dream. The art of chasing dreams begins when we are honest with ourselves and are willing to take an inventory of our heart, our passion, our skill set, and our giftedness...when we are willing to do that ...then we are ready to start chasing and making dreams come true.

The other thing that Walt did in that moment was to drive home the powerful yet often missed principle...direction, not intention, gets you to your destination. In other words, if you want to be a great animator...then wishing it would happen doesn't make it happen...instead, you must be purposeful in your pursuit of your dream. In this young artists case, learning to draw, refining skills in art school and hard work were all directional things that had to happen.

As a dreamer and doer, Walt reminded us there are no shortcuts to making dreams come true. So today, get ready to roll up your sleeves, get to work and start chasing your dreams. And along the way help and encourage others to do the same. The end result is that the world becomes a better place and your dream has the potential of impacting the lives of others forever.

(This account was recorded in much greater detail the Michael Barrier book, The Animated Man - A Life Of Walt Disney)

About the Author: This article, which first appeared on Facebook, is by author Jeff Dixon. Jeff has written a series of novels set in and around Walt Disney World entitled, The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, Storming the Kingdom, and as mentioned and linked above Terror in the Kingdom. He is also the author of The Disney Driven Life, a book that draws life lessons and leadership principles from the history and life of Walt Disney. Some know Jeff as Dixon On Disney – and he resources and comments on Disney history, attractions, and news. He is a researcher that draws heavily on the incredible works of Disney historians and biographers with an attempt to understand and apply the life lessons that are uncovered. He is also a storyteller that transports readers into a world beyond their imagination.

Guest Blog: Walt Disney - Don't Give Up!!! Keep Working, Trying and Dreaming.

Lessons on perseverance from the life of Walt Disney.

Lessons on perseverance from the life of Walt Disney.

Disney Archaeology time...Here we go digging!
There once was a filmmaker who fell on such hard times that he was kicked out of his apartment.

Having no place to go, he lived in his office and slept at night in a chair. He did this everyday and then would continue working on projects. To bathe he would travel to a pubic bath and shower facility. Faced with this kind of living situation it would have been easy to give up and become a lost story of someone who never made it.

Yet his story is so well known that it is easy to forget some of the darker moments.

Of course, since you are reading this article, you already know we are talking about none other than Walt Disney.

An often forgotten page of his life was during the days of making the Alice comedies.

In 1923 things looked extremely bleak for Walt and his young studio.

Things got so bad that his landlady did kick him out of his apartment. (He was "asked to leave.")

The rent to live there had been $3 and Walt could no longer afford it.

He moved into the studio and slept in a sofa chair in his drawing room. He stayed there for quite some time trying to save money, squeeze out every penny he could to pour into production, and he struggled to survive.

Once a week he would take a bath at Union Station, which was located near the cities hospital district. He would walk from the studio, past the hospitals, and enter the station. It cost him a dime for soap, one towel, and a hot bath.
He lived this way, without complaint, and kept on working to make his dreams come true.

After years of struggle, hard times, and being on the brink of losing it all...the story becomes the stuff of legend.

Walt Disney not only survived but is remembered to this day.

If you glance at the paragraphs above it should be simple to see one of the main reasons he made it. It is the difference often between success and failure. It is what many people miss out on as they live life.

The reason he made it is that he just wouldn't quit.
If there was a failure or a setback he didn't stop working ,trying, or dreaming.

He did his best to push past the defeat, learn from the failure, and strive not to make the same mistake again. But he kept trying and kept chasing his dreams because he knew that one day, some day, what he was chasing would happen.

My fear in life for many is that we too often quit one minute before the game changes.

We quit knocking on doors one door short of an answer.
We quit trying one day before we would find the solution.
As a result many people live their lives by describing them as, "I almost...." "I could have..." or "I nearly...."

I am not sure what is going on in your world but I do know this...don't give up.

You may be one heartbeat away from a breathtaking dream coming true.

About the Author: This article, which first appeared on Facebook, is by author Jeff Dixon. Jeff has written a series of novels set in and around Walt Disney World entitled, The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, Storming the Kingdom, and as mentioned and linked above Terror in the Kingdom. He is also the author of The Disney Driven Life, a book that draws life lessons and leadership principles from the history and life of Walt Disney. Some know Jeff as Dixon On Disney – and he resources and comments on Disney history, attractions, and news. He is a researcher that draws heavily on the incredible works of Disney historians and biographers with an attempt to understand and apply the life lessons that are uncovered. He is also a storyteller that transports readers into a world beyond their imagination.

Guest Blog: Walt Disney, Ken Wales and Encouraging Others.....

Ready to dig into a story from the life of Walt Disney?

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 led, he gave them opportunity, and 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.

About the Author: This article, which first appeared on Facebook, is by author Jeff Dixon. Jeff has written a series of novels set in and around Walt Disney World entitled, The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, Storming the Kingdom, and as mentioned and linked above Terror in the Kingdom. He is also the author of The Disney Driven Life, a book that draws life lessons and leadership principles from the history and life of Walt Disney. Some know Jeff as Dixon On Disney – and he resources and comments on Disney history, attractions, and news. He is a researcher that draws heavily on the incredible works of Disney historians and biographers with an attempt to understand and apply the life lessons that are uncovered. He is also a storyteller that transports readers into a world beyond their imagination.

Guest Blog: Disney's Rorex Tunnel - Carolwood Pacific Railroad

Here is a bit of Disney Archaeology for you…digging into the past and making discoveries that matter in the future…so let’s begin with a question…Are you familiar with Walt Disney’s Rorex Tunnel?

Walt Disney’s Carolwood Pacific Railroad and the history of the Rorex tunnel - Dixon On Disney

Walt Disney’s Carolwood Pacific Railroad and the history of the Rorex tunnel - Dixon On Disney

It is not surprising if you aren’t, but the tunnel and its creation are interesting chapters within the life of Walt Disney. The story unfolds at the Disney home in Holmby Hills. Walt’s hobby and interest in railroading had led to the creation of the Carolwood Pacific, it was a one-eight scale train, designed to run around the Disney home along 2,615 feet of track, with enough switching options to enable him to travel nearly a mile without running on the same track in the same direction.

The first circuit around the Carolwood property took place on May 7, 1951. As the plans for this extensive personal railway was being developed, Walt’s wife-Lillian noticed that the train was going to run right through her new flower gardens, which had been designed by Disney legend – Bill Evans. She approached her husband about this and was not at all pleased. Walt knew he had to come up with a solution to the problem. Unleashing his very creative imagination, it didn’t take Walt long to land on an answer. He would simply dig a tunnel and go underneath the flowerbed.

In a playful turn of events – Walt even had his lawyer draw up a legal agreement between Lillian and himself. “Lilly has made up her mind that I shouldn’t run right through the middle of her garden. She wanted to have a large window put in so her friends can look out at her flowers while they are playing Canasta. I just want the right to run my railroad.” Walt stated.

Now let’s dig into the tunnel - As you might imagine, this was not just going to be any tunnel. Walt always had a flair for the creative and wanted to create a moment for his passengers and of course, himself.

Walt’s plan was to create a 90 foot tunnel with a slight S-curve in the middle. As riders entered the tunnel they would not immediately be able to see the exit. As they went deeper into the tunnel, they would be plunged into total darkness. As always, in the world of Walt Disney, even in those early days – he was always figuring out a way to “plus” the experience. A foreman on the project approached Walt and suggested it would be cheaper if they made the tunnel straight. (Not to mention it would be easier to build as well)
This angered Walt and he snapped back, “It’s cheaper not to do it all.”
But in the end, Walt got the tunnel installed, just the way he had envisioned it.

The Carolwood Pacific Railroad introduced Walt to the notion of creating an attraction, an outdoor entertainment event. Eventually with the creation of Disneyland, Walt would get a full sized train that he could run after hours at the theme park. The beginnings of thinking through how that might work and what that might look like happened in his very own backyard.

The tunnel that Walt dreamed up that formed an S-curve below Lillian’s flower bed was officially named the “Rorex Tunnel.” The reason for the name was the construction supervisor. As Walt was chatting about what to do and discussing possibilities, the original idea that the problem could be tackled in this way was suggested by Jack Rorex. As a result, Walt remembered the conversation and the tunnel was named after the man who sparked Walt’s imagination.

When faced with the problem of upsetting his wife and destroying all the work that had gone into her flower beds, it would have been easy to decide, there was no way to fix or conquer the problem. However the tunnel ended up being a bit of an engineering masterpiece. The problem was nothing but an opportunity in disguise.

Walt explained his approach to chasing ideas and experimenting in an interview with Pete Martin in the Saturday Evening Post (June-July 1956) when he said, “You never know what will happen. That open mind and that hope that one thing will lead to another.”

Today you may find there are problems that you are facing that seem to have no answer. Don’t stop looking for solutions, don’t be afraid to be creative. The problem that seems so insurmountable may actually be an opportunity in disguise.

(The story used in this post is taken from The Disney Code)

About the Author: This article, which first appeared on Facebook, is by author Jeff Dixon. Jeff has written a series of novels set in and around Walt Disney World entitled, The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, Storming the Kingdom, and as mentioned and linked above Terror in the Kingdom. He is also the author of The Disney Driven Life, a book that draws life lessons and leadership principles from the history and life of Walt Disney. Some know Jeff as Dixon On Disney – and he resources and comments on Disney history, attractions, and news. He is a researcher that draws heavily on the incredible works of Disney historians and biographers with an attempt to understand and apply the life lessons that are uncovered. He is also a storyteller that transports readers into a world beyond their imagination.

Guest Blog: Disney and Notre Dame

It is with great sadness that we watched as so many did, the Cathedral of Notre Dame burn in Paris, France. This iconic structure was a part of the fabric and lore of the city and the loss is tremendous. In the aftermath of this loss, our hearts and prayers are with the people of France, who have lost a part of their culture and a landmark that was a hub of activity within the city.

Even in the world of Disney, this great cathedral was a part of the storylines of many films.

Disney and Notre Dame Cathedral

Disney and Notre Dame Cathedral

Of course, we remember The Hunchback of Notre Dame. To stay consistent to the architecture and details of Notre Dame, animators spent several weeks in and around the actual cathedral. This building in the picture serves as a home to the main protagonist, Quasimodo. He viewed the cathedral as a home as he rings and cares for its bells, each of which he has bestowed a name. In return, the cathedral shelters and protects him

The cathedral also is seen in the Aristocrats, as Edgar Balthazar drives past Notre Dame while taking the cats into the countryside. In Ratatouille, we see the cathedral on two occasions. More recently it was seen in Cars 2, as a street musician performs music in front of the cathedral after Mater, Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell's arrival in Paris. In the live action film, Beauty and the Beast, the Notre Dame Cathedral appears as a background in the backstory of the lead characters as they are being developed.

Sometimes it is easy to take for granted those places that become the backdrop for the stories that create the memories that define our lives. For the people and city of Paris this is a great loss - it is also a loss for citizens of the world. Never take for granted the places and more importantly the people that help create the moments that define our lives. In the days ahead remember to pray for Paris as they have lost a piece of their history as well as a place that was so much a part of the heartbeat of the city.

About the Author: This article, which first appeared on Facebook, is by author Jeff Dixon. Jeff has written a series of novels set in and around Walt Disney World entitled, The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, Storming the Kingdom, and as mentioned and linked above Terror in the Kingdom. He is also the author of The Disney Driven Life, a book that draws life lessons and leadership principles from the history and life of Walt Disney. Some know Jeff as Dixon On Disney – and he resources and comments on Disney history, attractions, and news. He is a researcher that draws heavily on the incredible works of Disney historians and biographers with an attempt to understand and apply the life lessons that are uncovered. He is also a storyteller that transports readers into a world beyond their imagination.

Did you know? The Hunchback of Notre Dame was featured in two live shows in Disney parks? The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Musical Adventure was presented at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from 1996 to 2002 and The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Festival of Fools ran at Disneyland from 1996 to 1998.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Musical Adventure was a live show presented from 1996 to 2002 in Disney’s Hollywood Studios park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Photo by Steve Johnson.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Musical Adventure was a live show presented from 1996 to 2002 in Disney’s Hollywood Studios park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Photo by Steve Johnson.

Disney is donating $5 million towards the work to restore Notre Dame Cathedral. Disney CEO Bob Iger released this statement, '“ Notre-Dame is a beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architechture and for its enduring place in human history.”