New Book Explores Disney’s Magical Role in Our Lives

April 30, 2022 0 Comments

In What the Magic Means, Terry J. Wheeland, Jr. explores the magic of Disney and how and why it continues to influence us. Whether you’re a Disney fan or not, there’s no denying that few people have had the impact that Walt Disney has had on the world and few multimedia empires have had such an extensive reach. The reason for Disney’s success is its magic, and for the countless legions of Disney fans, that magic has been life changing.

In his book, Wheeland gets to the heart of what magic means to our personal lives by interviewing ten top Disney fans. Some like Kara Moll are just that: fans who love Disney so much that it has permeated every aspect of their lives. Others, like Serena Lyn, have moved their families to Orlando to be closer to Walt Disney World. Many of those interviewed have worked for Disney, including Disney legend Tom Nabbe, who was hired by Walt Disney himself to play Tom Sawyer in Tom Sawyer’s Island; Margaret Kerry, who was the original model for Tinker Bell in Peter Pan; and Lee Cockerell, who served as Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World. And then there are the Disney historians: Jim Korkis, who not only worked for Disney but has written numerous books to preserve its history, and Jeff Barnes, known as Dr. Disneyland because he teaches a course on the history of Disneyland at Baptist University. Of California. Rounding out the event are Ron Schneider, a performance artist at the Disney parks, and Michael Kay and John Saccheri, both followed by countless fans on YouTube for sharing their love of Disney.

I can’t say I’m as much of a Disney fan as Wheeland and those he interviews, but I too remember the magic of growing up in the ’70s and ’80s watching The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights. going to see revivals of classic Disney cartoons like Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the movies, the magic of my first trip to Walt Disney World when I was twelve years old, and having perhaps the best summer of my life in 1985 when we got to Disney Channel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading on these pages about what Disney has meant to all of these people in their personal lives and careers.

Here is just a sample of excerpts from those interviewed about how the magic of Disney has changed their lives. Michael Kay revealed how Disney helps bring families together by creating memories for them. Wheeland tells us about Michael Kay’s trips to Disney with his grandparents:

“These are such simple but very special memories that, for Michael, have made his love for the magic of Disney grow again and again. His long-dead grandparents left family letters that speak of how special those trips to Disney were. they were for them. They even asked me, in a very sweet and sincere way, that ‘if it weren’t inconvenient’, the family would reminisce about those times together during their future trips to Disney. Michael shared with me that he now takes the first ‘half hour or hour’ of each of his trips just to remember those times as he walks through the parks.”

In another interview with Ron Schneider, Wheeland explores how parks are more than just attractions or shows. Schneider tells us:

“What we do in the park is the visitor experience. Your personal experience. The physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological and spiritual experience of what we do. So the name of the show is not Disneyland. It’s your Disneyland experience. It’s your Haunted Mansion experience. We create all these special effects, but it’s what the guest feels when they walk in front of that mansion. You can go to the Haunted Mansion fifty times in your life. You know every line of dialogue. You know every effect. You know where it’s all, but why do we keep coming back? The reason is every time we walk through that door there’s something going on in our minds, and we tell ourselves this has never happened before. I’ve never been here before. We played that game… the miracle of the first time.”

There are many more fascinating and moving passages in What the Magic Means that get to the heart of magic, but I’ll leave them to the reader to discover. However, let me explain some of the features of the book. Each chapter not only contains an interview with a huge Disney fan, but also includes a “Let’s Get Silly” section in which the fan lists things like their favorite Disney movie or their favorite restaurant in the Disney park. One chapter is actually styled as an interview with Walt Disney, and Wheeland draws on historical evidence to find Walt’s favorites. There is also a foreword by “Dr. Disneyland” Jeff Barnes, who in addition to being one of the interviewees in the book is the author of The Wisdom of Walt and Beyond the Wisdom of Walt.

But perhaps the most special thing about What the Magic Means is that Wheel and it invites us to think about what Disney means to us. At the end of each chapter is a section titled “What Magic Means to You.” In this section, Wheeland offers readers the chance to write down their own Disney memories, whether they be movies, songs, park visits, toys, or most importantly, experiences with family and friends.

For me, these sections alone made the book fun and interesting. It is one thing to read a book or love something; it’s another thing to get to the bottom of why something matters so much to you; doing so often pushes us into a better understanding of who we are and puts parts of our lives into perspective.

I think it’s obvious that anyone who loves Disney will love this book. It’s a short, quick and easy read, but I also think you’ll come back again and again because in it you’ll find other people just like you who are unapologetically loving Disney because of all the magic it has. has brought into their lives.

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