Monday, September 28, 2009


My wife, Mrs. Doc, enjoys a website called On it, people write “how to” on a variety of subjects. On there you can find information on from how to cut a gem stone, to how to boil water. Seriously, there is an article on how to boil water. Mrs. Doc has written a few of these “how to” articles. The one about how to cut a gem stone was hers.

She also has the nice habit of forwarding eHow articles to me from time to time. This is especially true if the article has anything to do with Walt Disney World. And I have come to learn there are a good number of articles centered on things related to Disney. A search of the site yielded 33K plus entries in which the word “Disney” appears. She sent one these to me this weekend that I particularly liked and wanted to comment on. It is entitled How to Spread the Magic While Visiting Walt Disney World.”

It is simple article and contains three ways to “Spread the Magic.” One is easy enough – smile. Most of us are smiling the whole time we’re there anyway. With this, we need simply to direct our smile towards someone else. Brighten their day just that much more!

The second recommendation I found interesting. Wave to other people in the parks and count the number of times someone else waves back. The writer says that her family makes a game out of it. I am a bit introverted so this one would be a little difficult for me. Yes, waving is easy if I am waving at someone I know, but I don’t often do this with strangers. I’ve have waved at someone then quickly pulled my hand down when I discovered the person I was waving at was not the person I thought they were. Still, it may be interesting to try this suggestion some time.

Third, and another suggestion that is easily accomplished, is to strike up a conversation while in queue. I say it’s easy, and while it doesn’t happen that often, I have been known start a conversation with someone else in queue. The reality is, that more often than not, I am in line with friends or family so my conversation is usually directed to them. But again, it has happened. Another suggestion mentioned, what I’ll call 3a, is to recognize someone’s celebration button and comment. It is not hard too hard to tell someone “Happy Birthday”, “Happy Anniversary” or “Congratulations” to a Just Married couple. These are all special moments and we are helping to make it that much more special.

If there is one thing The Disney Obsession is about, it is about the emotion that comes from a love of all things Disney. I think that is the way Walt would want it? Don’t you think he intended for his parks to spark emotions in us all? I think he did.

The Magic Kingdom is known as The Magical Place on Earth. But for all the magic there, and throughout all of Walt Disney World, there is always room for a little more. There is room for the magic that we can make by sharing our happiness, our joy, our excitement with others around us. We have the privilege, and the duty, to share our magic with those we know and with total strangers; fellow travelers, we meet along the way.

I suppose you might say it’s a way to Pay It Forward, Disney style.

More to follow…

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Is Your Favorite Park?

Just over a year ago my friend George Taylor of Imaginerding invited me to take part in a series of interviews he was conducting called "Meet Our Neighbors." In the interview he would pose a series of questions and invite other bloggers to answer them for inclusion on his site. I enjoyed this opportunity as it afforded me the chance to give some real thought to specific aspects of my Disney Obsession.

I have gone back and re-read his questions and my answers and thought it would be good if I were to take some of the questions and go into a little more detail. You might call if "fuel" for a few posts here. So to begin with, and for this installment of Disney As Art, I thought I would revisit the question, "What is your favorite park?" I answered the question:

"As special as the Magic Kingdom is, and most every trip begins with a walk down Main Street U.S.A., my favorite park is Epcot. That is where I renewed my love for Disney as an adult. The icon is like no other. The moment it became "the" park was when I first heard the sub-woofers kick in during Saint-Saƫns "Organ" Symphony in Impressions de France. From that moment on..."

This has not changed in the year since I wrote that, or in the years since "I first heard the heard the..."

For most of my life I have held a fascination with France and specifically with Paris. There was time when I could say I had spent more time in Paris than I had in Walt Disney World. It was the first stop on a trip my parents gave me as a graduation gift. It was the city where my wife and I spent our honeymoon. It was a quick trip on the EuroStar while we lived in England and it was the city I always tried to route my travel through whenever I flew back and forth to Europe to teach.

When I am in Epcot, specifically in France, I allow my mind to wander into the realm of fantasy. When that happens I think back to days when I felt that the bohemian lifestyle would have suited my artistic temperment. I feel this when I look up at the window above the wine shop on Le Petit Rue and see a lone flickering light. I am drawn to the tragic story of Rodolfo and Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme. And if I listen close enough with my imagination I can just hear Rodolfo's anguished cry as he cradles the deceased Mimi in his arms. 

I can set on a bench and easily place myself in Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence. There I become Charles Strickland; a character based on Paul Gauguin. I am a painter exploring the reach of my creativity along side Van Gogh, and then finally journeying to the South Pacific to find a vision of "art" and "beauty." Or I can set with Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, Pound and others of "The Lost Generation" at the side walk cafe that once stood on the promenade. There we would pour over the morning papers, have a cup of espresso, a pastry, and decide what the day will hold.

Fanciful? Probably. But this is what is conjured up in my mind anytime I cross the bridge from the United Kingdom or step across the change in pavement from Morocco. Is this the real Paris in the real France? No, not by a large margin. I doesn't contain my favorite table at my favorite cafe on the Left Bank. 

But, it is still magical. When I visit this little corner of the World Showcase I am transported, for however long, to a semblance of a place that holds many fond memories for me. I can travel, if but for a little while, to a place where my imagination can run free. And isn't that what Disney is about? A place where our imagination can be set free. 

I hope this piece of Disney as Art can help you reach into your imagination and cause you to smile.

More to follow...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's It All About?

It has been two weeks since I returned from that magical trip to Walt Disney World with my grandchildren. Some of you have said you were looking forward to hearing more about the holiday. To those people, I apologize.

My apology is two-fold. On one hand, I have been incredibly busy since getting back. On the other hand, and actually the more important of the excuses, is that, quite frankly, it has been hard to put the experience into words. Yes, I could give you a nice exposition on how the parks were not all that crowded, therefore the wait times were not bad. I can tell you how this enabled us to accomplish much more than we imagined we’d be able to. But this could never fully express what took place during the Labor Day weekend.

I continue to look back and as I do, I come to understand that this trip was, for me at least, not about the experiences. It was about the emotions! It was about how I reacted and how I felt as I watched my babies experience the magic for the first time.

It was about that rush of excitement I felt as I watched and listened to Devon and Shelby help Mickey count down to the park opening. It was about taking baby steps so that 2-year old Jackson could keep up with us as we walked into Town Square. It was about finally giving free reign to my tears when I heard my granddaughter’s very audible gasp when she turned onto Main Street U.S.A. and said, “Oh look Papa, the Castle. It’s beautiful!” It was about us taking our first flight with Peter Pan over the streets of London and then to hear Devon say, “We’re in Neverland!” It was about waltzing with my granddaughter in the lobby of Mickey’s PhilharMagic and reaching out with Devon to grab the apple pie. It was about holding Shelby tight as we took the plunge on Splash Mountain and “The Grimsley Men” trying to pull the sword from the stone and laughing at our combined inability to do so. It was about smiling at my bride riding beside our princess on Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel and riding Dumbo for my first time ever with my grown son and both of us being very happy.

It was about watching their first meeting with Mickey and Minnie, and then watching Jackson warm up to the characters as the weekend progressed; so much so that he would fight his brother and sister so that he could stand right next to each of the Fab Five in the Epcot Character Spot. It was about watching him break away from his Daddy and run up to each character to give them a hug.

It was about so many things. So many more things!

It was about being able to cry openly in broad daylight, in public, simply because I was too happy to hold my tears inside. It was about “really” becoming a child again for the first time in a long time.

It was about – well, it was about magic!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Five Generations of Flight

This past Wednesday my friend Ryan at the Main Street Gazette hosted his first blog roundtable. On it, he asked the question, “What is your favorite attraction in the Magic Kingdom and why?” I want to share on The Disney Obsession, my answer. Then I would like to follow with an additional comment.

“My favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom is Peter Pan's Flight. There has never been any question on this! “True, there are many great rides in the Magic Kingdom; great for the thrills they bring or for the story they tell. Peter Pan's Flight is great for the memory it stirs within me. I made my first visit to Walt Disney World in the early Spring of 1972. It was only one day on what was a whirlwind tour through Florida. I don't remember everything about the Magic Kingdom that day, but I do remember that Flight. When our ship turned the corner and we flew out over the city of London, it was magic! It was magic that I still do not fully appreciate and cannot fully explain. In that moment I was flying! In that moment I was transported to another place and another time. I didn't need to know how things worked; I didn't care. All I cared about was being in that place at that time and wishing it could have lasted forever. It was pure fantasy. It was wonder!"I am so much older now and I know a little bit more about how things work. Yet, when I walk through the castle into Fantasyland and turn left at Mickey's PhilharMagic, I try very hard to forget. All I wish to do is climb aboard a flying ship and sail out over the city of London, think back to that first flight in '72 and just for a moment remember that there is still some small bit of innocence, a little dram of wonder, and a touch of magic still left in this world. I become, not an old man, but a boy who never really wanted to grow up."

Not much has changed. Although our home is an “empty nest”, Mrs. Doc will quickly point out that having me around is akin to having a little boy in the house. As I have said on other occasions, a person may have to grow old, but they never have to grow up. These are my words to live by and an outlook that I have tried to pass along to my children and now to my grandchildren.

Today, I will be sharing this attraction with the fifth generation of our family.

When I first flew in that Spring of 1972 it was with my mom and dad. In the late 1980’s I introduced my son and daughter to the delight of flight. Also on that late '80's trip was my grandmother. At this hour, I am riding it with my grandsons and granddaughter. There were not many things I asked for with this trip, but this was one of them; the honor of riding with them on their first flight over London. With any luck, they will not ask how it works.

But if they do, it’s magic! Isn't it? After all, we’re all kids and to us, most everything is touched with a bit of magic. Faith, trust and pixie dust!

More to follow…

Thursday, September 3, 2009

We're Off to Neverland

I am currently in route to my home away from home. And just behind me, in the burgundy colored mini-van, are my son, daughter-in-law and three of my five grandchildren. For me, that means this Labor Day weekend will be very special!

For you, it means that the content from The Disney Obsession will be nearly non-existent over the next few days, save for a post on Saturday. But if you wish to keep up with my “dream come true weekend”, stop by my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter for some updates from the park. Yeah, I haven’t quite got the hang of posting mobile content to the blog.

I promise that when I get back I will do my best to post more regularly. I do have some things ready to go and that I continue to work on. The thing is, I have been a little distracted lately.

I hope that you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

More to follow…

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A New Hope

I love tomorrow! Yes, I love today too. Because all we have is today and our memories of yesterday. But for me, and perhaps for you, today does hold some thoughts of tomorrow. Tomorrow is what we hope for and that is what I love about it – hope. Albert Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow.”

While pondering my tomorrow, today, I came across some quotes that encompass thoughts of tomorrow.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely."
I also enjoyed this from Mark Twain, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”

Tomorrow is also found in music. The Beatles wrote a song titled Tomorrow Never Knows that includes a favorite lyric, “But listen to the color of your dreams.” In the Broadway musical Annie, the title character encourages the orphans, and us, by singing, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” And in Disney, the Sherman Brothers gave us, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow.”

Live for today, but have hope for tomorrow.

My tomorrow begins a journey that I have dreamed of for years now. The family will begin our Labor Day weekend trip tomorrow afternoon with our destination being Walt Disney World. While I am enjoying the drive south, listening to Disney music, talking and laughing with my wife, and having the grandchildren take turns riding with Papa, I’ll be thinking of the tomorrow that I hope for. We will call Friday. That tomorrow will be filled with adventures outside the parks. I will most like be awake that night waiting for Saturday to begin. For on that tomorrow, the dream comes true!

Shakespeare wrote tragically of “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” but I much prefer to look joyously on my tomorrow that lies three days away.

Yes, live for today. I do! For today is life! Have hope for tomorrow. I do! For tomorrow…well, tomorrow brings hope.

I love tomorrow!