20 December 2010

All the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine

Over the weekend I received a lovely email that asked a lot of great questions and, among other things, referred to me as one of the grandfathers of Disney blogging. My first two thoughts, in order, to this idea were: “There were plenty of others who came before me,” and “I’m not old enough to be anything’s grandpa.” It was one of those comments, however, that make me smirk and contemplative throughout the day, or in this case the weekend. As the year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a great deal about not only my own place in wonderful world of Disney, but friends and colleagues and the past, present and future of our beloved Walt Disney World.

The Main Street Gazette has always been constructed as a labor of love. I grew up in a lot of places, but none have resonated with me so much as Walt Disney World. I had family that worked there, I spent more than a ridiculous number of weeks and weekends tromping through Fort Wilderness, and I remember how happy my father seemed when we were there (a sentiment that seemed rare to me at the time). One of the driving forces, and there were several, behind beginning the Main Street Gazette several years back was the passing away of my aunt who had been in Security at Walt Disney World for well over twenty years. She had been our insider at the Vacation Kingdom, walking us around and dropping ‘did you know’ facts here and there, persuading us to come and see something new she had discovered, and sending along enticing trinkets, such as the Cast Member book The Magic begins with Me, which she labeled ‘propaganda.’

In those early days I had so much that I wanted to say, so many opinions that I wanted to voice. Around the Disney blogosphere there were a multitude of wonderful journalists and editorialists already churning out remarkable articles, podcasts and books. I won’t begin to try and talk about each one here, it would take far to long, but each had a special place in my development as a writer and amateur Disney historian. Early on they were the inspiration that kept me moving forward. Today, many of them are not only inspirations to me, but also dear friends, and many others I'm still hoping to call friends.

What I have found as intriguing as Walt Disney World itself is how complex the Disney enthusiast community is itself. Each person has their own set of values, standards and ideas of what makes Walt Disney World special to them. Their memories and interactions have created a personal golden age of the Disney experience. This is why, throughout the various Disney inspired websites you can see sites that are continually gushing praise or heaping criticism, it isn’t that one is blind to the problems or ignorant of the enchantment, it is because they both love Walt Disney World so much that they want to see it be a success. In the case of the presumed overly hostile, they remember a certain flair and certain dedication to the craft from their childhood and have built upon that with critical research. They may seem like naysayers, but, deep down their passion for the Vacation Kingdom is what drives them. My own work on the Gazette, for right or wrong, has always desired to fall somewhere in the middle, raising awareness of little known details, commenting on how to improve, and fondly remembering my golden age of Walt Disney World.

Each and every day, I am amazed by a new author I was not aware of yesterday, by a new line of thought I hadn’t considered and by a facet of Walt Disney World I didn’t even know existed. That is the new joy of Walt Disney World for me, when I know how to move through a park optimally, can view an entire attraction with my eyes closed and know I don’t have to camp out for hours to view fireworks because I have and will see them hundreds of times, it is discovering everyone else’s perspective on the place that I love that is so remarkable.

Let’s see, community, friends, new outlooks, what other gift has the Gazette granted me? Oh yes, you. Early on, like I said above, I had so much to say about Walt Disney World. And when all of those words ran out after a few months, I was left with blank pages and a headache thinking of new things to say. There were some growing pains, trying to find my next step, but the readership grew and continued comments felt like a comforting hand on my shoulder making me want to carry on and feel worthy of the warm welcome. Whether you regularly comment or have only ever read the Main Street Gazette in passing, thank you, you have made this an experience like none other.

I started as a kid who had no idea what he was doing, awestruck by my predecessors, and have been able to blossom into a daily contributor to the conversation, I’ve had magazine articles published and even appear on a pod cast now and then. Everything that came after that first article has been a shock to me, and I count my lucky stars every night. The funny thing is, whether I’m talking to a contemporary or about the Contemporary, I’m still that kid with no idea what he is doing, awestruck by my predecessors and the new kids on the block, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, provided I still get to talk about a place that is so near and dear to all of our hearts.


Greg said...

Great post Ryan! Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all you do in the Disney community, and keep doing what you're doing. Maybe one day you'll figure it out, but if not, enjoy the ride.