To All Who Come to this Happy Place….
In this quarter’s D23 is a retrospective of Disneyland. And the first thing that popped into my head was the opening line to the opening day speech. It was involuntary recall. A “knee-jerk” response.
For this piece, I am stealing a page from Red Skelton and the Pledge of Allegiance (available on YouTube and worth the watch by the way). The Speech is located in two places in Disneyland (trivia question for you, where?). I am going to share what I believe the speech means to me. This is by no means the definitive definition, as the speech means different things to different Disneyphiles. But this is a peek into my mind (not a safe place I assure you!).
To all who come – If you build it… (Field of Dreams) Okay, a different reference from a movie but it works here. And they do come, and they come, and they come, and Disney knew they would. Disneyland, and today the parks around the world, are the single most visited vacation spot of the world. I really do not believe anybody had Walt’s foresight to what people would pay to see. This isn’t a stat for a year or so, it is a consistent achievement, year after year.
to this happy place; – I know of no other place that bathes me in the emotion of happiness, then when I walk through the tunnels and I am standing looking down Main Street USA. I have flashbacks to when I was 10 entering the park, wide eyed, and awestruck by the events that had yet to happen. It is a deep emotional response for me, and many others. I was watching a streamer live stream yesterday as he entered the Magic Kingdom the first time since quarantine, and he had to fight back tears. What other place generates this sort of physical, emotional response?
welcome. – This word has incredible importance. Each cast member from Imagineers, to HR, to the cast members in the park, all have a hand at making us feel welcome. The smiles, the detail, the cast member training, all contribute to that moment where you feel you are home. IMHO, no other destination has the level of guest service treatment then what the Disney Corporation provides, whether it is a hotel, park or cruise.
Disneyland is your land. – The foresight of this statement shows how Walt and the Imagneers knew how we would feel about this park, and the parks. Remember that visceral reaction when Maelstrom was being removed for Frozen? For me it was the loss of Carousel of Progress and Country Bear Jamboree at DLR. The emotional attachment we have to these attractions was known even before they were built. Tony Baxter addresses this in Disneyland Secrets, Stories and Magic (available on YouTube). Imagineers learned long ago the emotional attachment to attractions is very strong, and the pressure that when you remove one, you replace it with something that will generate the same attachment.
Here age relives fond memories of the past – And I do. Not as much as the past history of America, which may be what Walt was referring too, but to my past, and the past visits to the parks, Sunday evenings in front of the TV, the movie theaters, the cruises. People often tell me of the expense of Disney, and I always respond, “How much are those fond memories worth?”. For me, they go all the way back to those Sunday evenings.
…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. – Look at how many people, kids, teens, college programs, work at the parks. Kids go to the parks when they are 10, and work at the parks when they achieve the age they can. Part time, nights, weekends, even coming to WDW on year longs work visa’s from the countries in the World Showcase. The parks give our youth the tools and training necessary to achieve careers whether it is with the Disney Corporation or elsewhere. I am a graduate of the Disney Customer Service Training program and the experience generated as an employee is a valuable credit on any resume.
Disneyland is dedicated – I parsed this statement because the dedication is not just the parks. This dedication is to the world. Walt was a World Shaker. He was creating ecological programs before Earth Day. Disney’s employment methodologies are industry standards. This dedication is to each of us as an individual to provide us with the purpose of growth within the world and our communities. The dedication is to “Plussing” what they already have. To never rest on their laurels. Today’s Audioanimatronics are the difference between that first 1080 PC and today’s computer technology. Always learning, always growing. From Pixar’s animation technique, to the new technology backgrounds invented for the Madalorian.
to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…– On my first draft, I was addressing each separately, but because of today’s issues, I am combining them. The blood, sweat and tears shed over the centuries that created this country, continue to be shed today. I am not sure if when this statement was made, it’s cognitive design would be that it would always be relevant to the world at any moment in time. That being said, Walt had one foot in the past, and one in the future. He had that knack to be able to look back, learn, and look forward and this statement is as relevant today as it ever was.
with the hope – To steal a line from a famous movie, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things”- Andy Dufrain, Shawshank Redemption. Walt was filled with Hope. That is the inspiration of EPCOT. Disney Imagineering has created hundreds of patents, and they share them. Audtioanimatronics has much of the same technology that sent rocket ships to the moon. Walt hoped for a better world, and shared his love of story, entertainment, technology, and creativity to pursue that better world.
that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world. – So what do you think? Did they achieve this? I see Peoplemover technology at airports. I see Disney merch all over the world. I look at this website, and the smiles it has given me with this community and the jukebox are immeasurable. When @Steve allowed me to contribute to this site, I experienced “inspiration”. When I read this quarter’s D23, it gave me tangible joy and the inspiration to type this piece. Disneyland is just a microcosm, a piece, of what this speech covers. It is a piece of what the Disney Entertainment Machine has created. No, Disney is not inexpensive, but!!!!! I have never regretted a penny that I have spent, for the memories I carry with me. Memories that start firmly with Sunday Nights in front of the TV with my family, and the annual family DLR trip started in 1966 to the land and sea cruise @Chelle helped us with. Disney had touched the world. It has reached across borders, culture, to touch the hearts and lives of children around the globe. What else has achieved such a feat?
What Part of this speech speaks to you?