A Spirited Holiday Wish

by Mike Scopa
AllEars® Staff Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the December 20, 2011 Issue #639 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Mike ScopaI was very fortunate in 2011 to make my very first trek to Disneyland. It was quite an experience, and triggered thoughts of watching Disneyland on television when I was a young boy. But as I walked through those turnstiles, I found my mind filling up with other thoughts that I would have never imagined that would cross my mind.

Walking through the only Disney theme park that Walt himself had ever set foot in would make any longtime Disney fan sense Walt's presence, Walt's influence; but even moreso, his spirit.

As I walked up Main Street, USA, I could not help but feel I had wandered into a time warp. This was no longer September 2011, but instead 1956, or maybe 1957… or sometime in the late 1950s. As I looked around everything seemed simple, happy, uncluttered, pure, and so uncomplicated, much like life was back about a half century ago. Life was pretty simple when Disneyland opened. There was no Facebook, or Twitter. Smartphones? Those were the ones in which you could dial a phone number instead of replying to the operator when she inquired, "Number please?"

So much has changed. If you said the word "internet" back then, a vision of tangled spider creations entered our thoughts.

Much has taken place since Walt Disney first opened the turnstiles to his very much-awaited theme park some 56 years ago.

As I gazed on the simple, yet elegant, Sleeping Beauty castle, it launched many thoughts, but one in particular, and that is of not just who that man was behind the design and creation of this park, but the spirit of the man as well.

All too often in our busy lives, we lose sight of what drives us, what motivates us every day, what brings us to get up and try to make sense of what life is all about.

We all know the story of Walt Disney and his two daughters and how they spent their Saturdays at an amusement park where Walt, while watching his daughters play and laugh, wondered why there could not be something created for the whole family to enjoy as well. After all, why couldn't the whole family have fun together at an amusement park? Beyond his thoughts on a family amusement park, Walt was obviously interested in other things that touched people's lives.

First and foremost, Walt was a storyteller. He wanted to entertain, but he also wanted to educate, and along the way those of us who grew up with the Disney influence right by our side learned things about manners, friendship, and people — real and fictional, such as Davey Crockett, Zorro, and Mary Poppins.

Every story that had the Disney label slapped on it, brought with it some lesson to be learned, some piece of information we may not have known, or maybe even more importantly, an understanding of who we are.

At this time of year, as the season sets off memories of holidays past, we all tend to get melancholy, thinking of friends and family long gone, and how much we miss them… how much we enjoyed their company… but most of all how much we still love them. It's been said many times that people tend to not appreciate anything or anyone until they are gone.

Walt Disney was a man who lived for today and for tomorrow. He could not get enough out of life… he could not contain himself from the drive of bringing families together, making children laugh, and causing adults to smile.

When you walk through Disneyland you cannot but help feel Walt Disney's spirit and that overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness he has brought to millions of people. That's right… millions.

This year AllEars® has been celebrating 15 years of having a presence on the Internet. Over those 15 years, the spirit of Walt Disney has truly been the motivation to those who have contributed to the countless pages of information brought to our AllEars® visitors.

AllEars® staffers shared more than just articles, information, photos, blogs, and newsletters — they also shared with their readers the spirit of Walt Disney.

As I witnessed this year's 40th anniversary celebration of the opening of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park, I could not help but think of one particular day a few years back when I was visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park.

I happened to be walking through One Man's Dream, an attraction dedicated to Walt Disney and his vision, and I noticed a young father talking to his son, a child of about 5. As the father was pointing to an image of Walt Disney, he tried to explain to his son who Walt Disney was and how he was responsible for where they were. I'm not sure if the young boy understood what his father was saying or even if he cared. It's not like the words were falling on deaf ears. Instead, it was an indication that perhaps as the generations come and go, it will become more and more difficult to preserve and truly explain who this man was and what he was all about… and his spirit of excitement, adventure, and creativity.

That father cared enough to try to explain to his son who Walt Disney was.

All of us at AllEars® care about Walt's spirit, which drives us every day to serve our readers in a way we feel Walt would approve. We take care in providing the best and most accurate information to our readers.

Perhaps in the back of our minds, there is a little voice asking us, "What would Walt think?" We would want Walt to be pleased.

Remembering what that young father was trying to accomplish with his son brings all of us here at AllEars® together in one thought. That thought is manifested in a special wish this holiday season.

As we reflect upon our first 15 years we humbly thank all of you for supporting AllEars® and helping us evolve into what we hope is the first place you visit when looking for information on all things Disney. Our wish and hope is to see our partnership with our readers continue and together keep Walt's spirit alive.

It is his spirit that lives on in all his theme parks and brightens children's eyes, much like they are enlightened as they hurry down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa has brought them.

It is his spirit that lives on when you see a cast member perform a random act of kindness to a stranger who will remember that benevolent act forever.

It is his spirit that makes us smile and face each day with the thought of what wonder will come into our lives and how we can touch someone in a positive way — just as Walt wanted.

Together we have kept his spirit alive and together we will continue to do so, not just during the holiday season, but all year long as well.

That is our wish this holiday season.

From all of us here at AllEars® thank you for allowing us to bring Walt Disney's spirit into your lives. We wish you the best this holiday season and look forward to a spirited 2012.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Scopa has loved all things Disney for as long as he can remember. His first visit to Walt Disney World came in 1975 and he has visited Mickey "… somewhere between 50 and 100 times since then." Mike wrote his first trip report in 1990 and has been writing about Walt Disney World ever since. Mike has been a contributing editor to The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and the recently published "Four Decades of Magic: Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World." He has also served as a peer reviewer and technical editor on several other Walt Disney World Guidebooks. Mike is one of the co-hosts for the popular WDWTODAY podcast and writes a blog, The View from Scopa Towers, for AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/mikescopa/ An avid runner and RunDisney expert, Mike is co-captain of Team AllEars® — the AllEars.Net Running Team. http://land.allears.net/blogs/teamallears/


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.