I have enormous admiration for Walt Disney. This admiration is informed by a strong sense of gratitude. I know enough about the man to know that he was far from perfect. I probably wouldn't want to have worked directly for the man. I can, however, admire him from afar.
He dreamed big dreams, and did big things. I can participate in a lot of what he did. I love Disneyland, because it captures a certain magic of which Walt was a master. It is an "other" kind of place, somewhere outside the normal realms. I like that place, and go there as often as I can. Granted sufficient resources I would visit some of his other creations, as well.
I have watched most of his movies, and grew up with his television shows as a significant part of my life. Granted, some of his works leave me a little flat, and much of what I experience is actually the product of a creative culture mastered by Disney. It is, however, a creative culture that was born of his creative force.
Where that culture has wandered a bit from the essence of Walt, it is being remade in a form that is more essentially Disney. A great example of that is the reformation of the California Adventure theme park. It will be interesting to see just how well the reformation imprints the essence of Disney on a creation gone awry.
While I love Walt Disney and his creations, I also enjoy the fact that the whole of the world is not just a Disney theme park. Indeed, the contrast is part of what makes going back to Disneyland quite special. Like any good story, like any good magic trick, Disneyland requires a suspension of non-belief. It is engineered to make that suspension easy, and rewarding.
I will always recall the time I returned to the park after an absence of only two months or so. It was the year the family all had annual passes, and we were going as often as we could. I walked in the gate, handed the gentleman at the counter my pass, and heard him say, "welcome back."
When I stepped onto Main Street, I felt like I had come home from a distant land.
I liked that feeling. Thank you, Walt.
1 day ago