“Why worry? If you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better.” ~ Walt Disney
When you read that name, Walt Disney, what comes to mind?
Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Disney World, and the countless movies, shows and songs that we have come to love under the heading ‘Disney’. It’s a household name, threaded throughout our lives and our world. From the many shows, movies, the app, costumes, merchandise and a hundred (and one) different ways.
Would it surprise you to learn that Walt Disney, the founder of all things ‘Disney’ was someone who dealt with failure for a good part of his life? And even when he did find small successes, he still struggled. He faced bankruptcy, a strike, war, personal struggles and more than once was on the brink of losing it all.
This past week I was able to check something off my bucket list. It was a biggie, and something I dreamed about as a child but never had the opportunity to do. A friend and I took our girls to Walt Disney World in Florida for a whirlwind adventure! To be able to share this experience with Rachael and Grace is something I will never forget, and I hope they won’t either.
I have to tell you, when I stepped onto Main Street at Magic Kingdom and et my eyes on ‘Cinderella’s Castle’ for the first time, I had tears in my eyes and a Cheshire Cat grin from ear to ear.
We did a lot in the two and a half days we were there; trying to cram as much as we could into the short window of time. With the park hopper pass and were able to visit Disney Springs, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom (twice) and Hollywood Studios.
It was at Hollywood Studios, after the ‘Tower of Terror’ and the ‘Rock’n’Roller Coaster’ we found a reprieve from the heat and humidity, at the ‘Walt Disney Gallery & Exhibits’.
Fact about me. I love history; much to the joy of my dear friend Jessica, who is the Executive Director of the Chenango County Historical Museum. She’s also a Disney World Expert; she worked there once, and if you know her then you know how fitting this was! Anyway, I am a history buff and enjoy museums. You get a glimpse into the life and creations of amazing people. You also get to learn the “real story” of these individuals throughout time. It gives you a glimpse into their real life, and their world. Not the public life or what we now know about them, but the story behind the story. That’s what I really love.
So as you walk through this particular museum you travel through a visual timeline of the life of Walt Disney, his brother Roy, and the team behind the creation of the Disney empire. At the end of the hallway, you enter the Walt Disney Theater (thankfully air conditioned), and watch “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream”.
I was surprised to learn about his failure in the early years such as the rights to a cartoon he created, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, losing it in a contract dispute. He lost the rights, money, artists and eventually filed for bankruptcy.
When Walt and his brother Roy decided to start Disney Studios, they used every last dollar they had. It was a tough industry, and the technology was changing. His first successful move was Mickey Mouse, starring in “Steamboat Willie”. A few years later he began working on a dream he had previously, which was to turn the Brothers Grimm story, Snow White, into a feature movie. Once again, the brother sank every cent they had and mortgaged all they owned to invest the time and money into this movie. It took nearly two years to create this film, and when it was they were finished we were in the midst of the Great Depression.
Despite what was happening the world, this movie achieved greatness, but still the Disney empire had more growing pains to tackle before being on stable ground. In 1955 Disneyland Theme Park opened. The creation of this vision was a painstakingly long process, with many pitfalls, mishaps and “almost didn’t happen” moments. I won’t bore you with all the details, but you really should read up on this because the story is really incredible. Talk about making dreams a reality!
The point to all of this is think about if Walt Disney had stopped when he met with an obstacle?
What if he quit after the legal battle over ‘Oswald’? What if he pointed his career another way after he had to file for bankruptcy? At one point Walt was overwhelmed with his work and life; he took some time off to recover. What if he never went back?
What if he had actually named Mickey Mouse what he wanted to name him? (Nope. That one you need to look up.)
There were so many times that Walt Disney could have given up, but didn’t.
So many times he could of (and maybe he was even encouraged to) give up.
The next time you are thinking of taking on a big project, or are faced with a setback, and wonder if you should keep pushing forward I want you to think of Walt Disney, and what he went through. Even at the time of his death in 1966, he had only started building the empire we now know.
It’s ok to be a dreamer.
It’s ok to be the only one who sees what you see.
It’s ok to fail and then start again.
In the words of Cinderella, “A dream is a wish your heart makes”.
Keep dreaming, Chenango.