A Disney Letter to My Grandson

by Mike Scopa
AllEars® Feature Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the February 17, 2009 Issue #491 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Mike ScopaOnce upon a time a little boy was born. His grandfather, known for his penchant for all things Disney, sat back and thought about what kind of an influence he would have on his grandson's life, what he would teach this little boy, what words of wisdom he would express to prepare this child for what life would offer. After much thought, his grandfather felt that any words, any advice, would best be put in a letter to which his grandson would be able to refer at any time in his life whenever he needed to read his grandfather's words.

So what advice would be in that letter? Perhaps it would be similar to the following:

Dear Ryan,

Welcome to the world. There is so much for you to see, hear, touch, and experience. Life has no boundaries as long as you believe in what you want in yourself.

As you go through life you will be faced with many challenges. So how do you meet those challenges? Well, there are many tools that you can use to help you along the way, things that can you can turn to, to help you learn, grow, and help you through the difficult times in your life. The tool that I turn to frequently may help you -- and that is Disney Magic. It has been with me as far back as I can remember. It goes back to the first Mickey Mouse cartoon I watched, a long time ago.

It goes back to the first episode of Spin and Marty, or of the Hardy Boys, or the Mickey Mouse Club. It goes back to Zorro, and Old Yeller, and Davey Crockett. And of course it also includes countless visits to Walt Disney World... visits that go back almost 35 years.

So how can Disney Magic do its thing for you and life's challenges? Well, let's take a closer look.

As you go through childhood you will find a wondrous number of new things to discover and enjoy. Don't be shy, don't be afraid. The most important thing to do is to experience as much as you can, to try new things. Be bold like Walt Disney and let your curiosity serve as your motivation to learn new things for yourself and not to be afraid to stumble along the way.

When the time is right for you to visit your first Disney theme park, embrace the attractions and the thrills and laughter they provide. When you see the characters, know full well that they want you to have a good time and you should welcome them into your heart. That is the Disney Magic.

As you move into young adulthood take a cue from the Disney culture and welcome into your heart all who you meet from different cultures, different lands, and different lifestyles. Learn to love all human beings regardless of the color of their skin, the religions they follow, the languages they speak, or the lifestyles they lead.

Disney culture has coined the phrase "Global Neighborhood" and that is what our planet has become. We need to embrace our neighbors and understand that we are all in this together. So Ryan, treat everyone in a special way, as you would want to be treated. That is part of Disney Magic.

Here is something else important to remember.

As you move into young adulthood do not leave your childhood memories behind. Think about what made you happy as a young child; try to take that with you as an adult. You should never lose sight of what it felt like to be a child. The Disney experience wants us to remember how carefree we were as children.

As you journey through adulthood there will be ups and downs as if you are on a roller coaster. Be advised that others will be experiencing the same things throughout their lives. During my life I have also had those times when things just aren't pleasant and I call upon memories of Disney Magic to pull me through. I cannot stress how important it is for you to do whatever you can to look for magic everywhere, and to use it to make magical moments for others... especially for those who need a little magic at times. Nothing in life will be more gratifying than to make others smile, to make them happy, to let them know that they are not alone.

The wonders of Disney and the joy that Disney Magic can bring to one's being has made an impact on my life and I want it to not only have the same impact on your life, but to also help you understand the notion that every day we should treat everyone as we would like to be treated. That means bringing our own special flavor of Disney Magic to all those who touch our lives.

It was the draw of family interaction that led Walt Disney to the thought of someday building an amusement park in which the whole family could experience the fun and joy of a family vacation. He did not want to build a place in which only the children would be laughing and smiling, but also the moms and dads, as well. He wanted to create the ultimate family vacation. Walt Disney saw the merit in family life. Thus, I want you to also hold your family dear to your heart. Take time whenever you can to spend quality time with your family. They are your closest allies in life. Walt realized this and I want you to realize this, too.

If you become a father, take time teach your children well. When the time is right, bring your family to Walt Disney World and let them experience the magic of the Disney Zone in which all their cares and worries are left at the turnstiles. One of your prime responsibilities as a father will be to show your children the importance of having fun. I cannot think of a better classroom to teach this than a Disney theme park.

As you mature and age you will develop a deeper appreciation for what the Disney experience has to offer. You will find yourself looking for more opportunities, not just to enjoy and bathe yourself in the glow of the Disney Zone, but to also do whatever you can to bring that feeling to others. I'm sad to say that you will find that it will never be enough -- no matter how many times you are in a theme park, it will never be enough.

If you're like your grandfather, you will find yourself listening to Disney music more often, watching Disney movies more frequently, and most of all reminiscing about those special Disney moments -- perhaps moments at Walt Disney World, maybe a special place in a theme park -- in which something made you smile, laugh, or cry.

Remember this: life will offer you many challenges and not every day will bring you as many smiles as you would like. We all need help and Walt Disney, indirectly, will help all of us for many years to come with the Disney culture that he created.

I have embraced this culture. It has made an impact on my life and has made me realize that we should not take our lives for granted, nor our families, nor our friends. It has also taught me a valuable lesson -- and that lesson is that when you make people smile as Disney Magic does, the smile you appreciate the most is the smile that you yourself have for making others happy.

Walt would like that.

I know that as I compose this letter, you are far from that moment in which you can read and understand my words, but I have a request of you as I close this letter. My hope is that you save this letter and decades from now, when I am gone and when one of your children blesses you with a grandchild, that you revisit this letter, read my words, and hopefully pass them on to your children's children.

It's not only my wish, but Walt Disney's wish as well.

Welcome to the world.

Love,
Your Grandfather

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and has served as keynote speaker for the 2006 and 2007 MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast and writes a regular blog, The View from Scopa Towers, for AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/mikescopa

Other AllEars® articles by Mike Scopa: http://allears.net/btp/mikescopa.htm


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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.