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Happy Birthday, Walt Disney — Thanks For Making Our Dreams Come True

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I never met you, Walt Disney, but I feel like I know you better than I know most. This is because even though we never met, I’ve been inside your head.

Since the end of August, I have been working at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, taking pictures of guests in the Magic Kingdom. Being a photographer in the most magical place on earth has been like a dream.

Every day, I get to stroll down Main Street USA in my ever-so-flattering, pinstriped shirt and knickers, admiring the attention to detail all around me.

Disney really got it right; not a single part of the Magic Kingdom is half-assed. Everything is as authentic as if it truly existed. For the thousands of guests who roam the streets of the Magic Kingdom every day, the ambiance is realer than many things they’ve encountered in their lives.

There are days when I’m stationed in front of the iconic statue of Walt and Mickey, when I look up at that marvelous man, only to remember that all of this came from his head. How incredible?

Today, on Walt Disney’s 113th birthday, I just wanted to say thank you.

A lot of people probably don’t think about the magic Walt Disney left behind, but I live it every day. He created an entire world of dreams coming true.

To some people, Disney is just the name of a few theme parks. To me, it’s the name of the man who created a legacy of never-ending dreams that “all started with a mouse.” We all grew up with Disney, and without it, our childhoods would have been vastly different.

Sure, maybe the world could currently do with a little less “Frozen” (no, I will not “Let it Go”), but most of us wouldn’t trade our childhood memories for anything. We’re Disney kids at heart.

Without Walt Disney, so many family memories never would have happened. He created a place where parents and children could enjoy everything together, and he beyond succeeded. He brought this magical place to life — and that’s truly what it is: magical.

The Disney Parks are where people get married. They stand in this kingdom, run by princesses and animals, promising to love each other forever. Disney Parks are shaping up to be here forever, or at least forever, as far as we can see.

Disney World is where sick children come seeking hope. Kids who just want to be kids but were forced to grow up because of illness come here to bring much-needed magic to their lives.

When they’re here, it feels like miracles are possible, and maybe they are. With enough pixie dust, anything can be possible.

People come here for all sorts of reasons. Those of us who work here, why did we come? When we left to come here, they asked us why: Why are you doing that? Are you running away? What will you gain from working for a theme park?

We’re exactly where we want to be, or nowhere near knowing what we want out of this life, but we knew we wanted to work for a mouse. We’re a little all over the place, and maybe we just needed a reminder that success and magic are possible.

Why did we come here? We’re living in a heat box that comes with alligators, fast food chains and pixie dust. We all came to make memories.

We came to work in the shadow of a man who told the world one of the greatest figures we’d ever know would be a mouse. Is that incredible, or what?

We want to be incredible, too.

They don’t all understand, and we only sort of do. We’re stocking cotton candy, chopping tomatoes, changing camera batteries, pulling luggage, clocking in, clocking out, sweating more than we ever thought we could, so that someday we can be animators, actors, radio hosts, authors, award winners, peacemakers, dreamers.

When Walt was young, did he know he’d be great? Or was dreaming just a pastime to him, something that came naturally, something he never thought would change the world? It did change the world.

We don’t know what we’re doing with our lives yet, but he did, and maybe working in his shadow is our first step towards greatness. Maybe it’ll inspire us to make a little magic of our own.

Are we immature for wanting to work at Disney? No. We just still believe in magic.

Disney is the last name of one man who inspired countless of our favorite characters, stories and lessons by which to live. One man changed childhood – and the world.

Working in Walt Disney World has taught me that magic is everywhere and one person is capable of creating it for everyone. I’m aware this sounds incredibly cheesy, but everywhere in the Disney Parks, there are characters telling us that dreams come true if you just believe.

When I encounter a child who doesn’t want his or her picture taken, I tell the child I need to tell him or her a secret. I then whisper in the child’s ear that Mickey Mouse sees all of my pictures, and he was hoping he or she could smile for him. It almost always works.

Even the youngest children couldn’t let down Mickey Mouse. They believe in him. Without knowing it, children who don’t yet know there’s a name behind all the magic believe in Walt Disney, and that’s incredible.

Happy Birthday, Walt Disney. Thank you for inspiring the magic.

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