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Finding Disney – Going the Disney Distance

Extraordinary Magic in Everyday Life

“See what a little wishin’ can do?”

Those are the words spoken by Jiminy Cricket at the conclusion of the Wishes fireworks each night at Magic Kingdom. They sum up what we’ve just experienced from the Wishes from the Contemporary ResortHub, from California Grill, from the Polynesian beach, or wherever we’ve viewed the explosive pyrotechnics. Over the course of the last 15 minutes or so, we’ve been shown the power of dreams in the form of fireworks—how they can make a mermaid part of another world, how they can grant a flying boy eternal youth, how they can give an overworked maid a happily-ever-after.

Even if life isn’t always so perfect and fantastical as the dream-it-do-it mindset like some of our animated friends, dreams are still just as strong as ever. Two weeks ago in a Finding Disney post about inspiration—the impetus for our aspirations—you shared your dream and the motivation behind it. The response was overwhelming, serving as an encouragement to others and a fun self-assessment. Today we’re going to continue that motif with the next step after inspiration: a reminder.

Last night, I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. In my college dorm, each suite is made up of two individual bedrooms are connected by a bathroom. As I brushed away, probably thinking about Thor 2, I heard a …dribble? Was that a dribble of a basketball coming from the connecting room? It was nearly midnight, not to mention the room is barely big enough for a small refrigerator, much less a basketball game. I could tell the sound wasn’t coming from the TV, either. So what was going on?

I listened closely, and immediately smiled.

“He’s blocked on both sides, passes the ball—oh! He doesn’t pass, he fakes them out! Goes for the three-pointer… and he makes it!”

Turns out my suitemate, one of my best friends, was in his room, alone, playing with a basketball and imagining his own athletic superstardom. He plays basketball for fun, but doesn’t want to make a career out of it (or at least he hasn’t told me he does). He is, though, a Recreation Management major, and would love to hold leadership in some capacity at a camp, YMCA, or rec center, ideally also working with children. So who knows—maybe he was just letting go of some steam and that was his way of relaxing, maybe he was fantasizing himself playing on a professional team, or maybe he was envisioning himself in a future role assisting kids in his dream job. I like to think the latter. I don’t know his real answer because I let him be, not wanting to distract him or even for him to know I heard him. (I also shall refrain from the thought of him finding this article and knowing I shared his story with the world.)

But the point of all that is this: He knows what he wants to do. He’s here at school studying how to do it right. And on the side, he’s imagining himself in that role. Maybe I’m looking too much into this. BUT… imagine how much more productive our dreams can be if we have a tiny reminder to continue to propel them forward. It’s easy to set the course for a dream—to make the dream in the first place. What’s difficult is sustaining it, not letting it wither. Granted, sometimes other priorities get in the way that rightfully should take precedence. But when the opportunity is available to pursue our greatest ambitions and we leave those opportunities unused… that’s going against everything we see in every Disney movie ever made!

Whatever that dream is for you, it’s important to remind yourself of it constantly, whether that’s in the form of exercising your imagination like my suitemate, or a placing a visual reminder somewhere you’ll see it often. For me, I don’t know exactly what career I’ll end up having, but I hope it has something to do with film, media, or theme parks. Within those fields, I admire the way that the Walt Disney Company upholds very high-quality integrity of guest services, of going the extra mile for no reason other than to elicit some magic.

Whether or not I actually end up working for Disney itself, that principle is still something that I hope to embody, so  sitting on my desk are two things. The first is a small figurine recreating the “Storytellers” statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at Disney California Adventure. It shows both icons young—Walt in his ‘20s and Mickey still Go the Distancepie-eyed—having just arrived in California, suitcases in hand and excitement in their souls. The figure reminds me of just how little Walt had when he started his dream and how far his determination got him. The other item is taped to the wall right above the statue—a simple scrap of paper that says, “Go the distance.” (Bonus points if you know what it quotes!) Put together, these two things remind me of what I strive for and fuel that drive—of going the distance, going that extra mile.

So just as the Blue Fairy remarks toward the Wishes finale, “Remember, we must always believe in our wishes, for they are the magic within,” we must do the same. ALWAYS believing. Not just in the beginning, but in the middle—the actual application of our dream. It’s where the magic lives.

Photos from personal family collection.

Blake is a college student focusing on Film and Creative Writing. He enjoys making his family of six watch the parade on Main Street and then sprint to Frontierland in time to see it again. You can follow Blake’s random Disney ramblings on Twitter at @olddirtyblake, or at BlakeOnline.com.