Monday, September 28, 2015

Part 2: My day with Walt Disney

Part 2 My day with Walt
 "Let's get lunch" Walt said.   END PART 1t

1:12: PM- May 24, 2014
I walked up to the Cast Member Jen, who was standing at the entrance to "Be Our Guest, Restaurant",  and asked if I could get a table for Walt and Me. She politely explained ADR and said I could wait in the queue, and the wait time would be about 65 minutes.  Walt walked up to Jen and whispered in her ear, " Marc Davis " (one of the seven secret words again). Jen did a triple take when she realized who was with me and said, "This way to Club 71, Mr. Disney."

Walt said, "I would rather dine in the "West Wing", with the other guests if you don't mind" ,he said to Jen. I wondered why he preferred the large dining room instead of the private club, and I was soon to discover why.

The restaurant is located underneath the mysterious castle (home to Beast from “Beauty and the Beast”) in the new Fantasyland.  You pass through an old gateway to a stone bridge and through wrought-iron gates with six beastly figures that remind you of the story of the Beast’s transformation.

There are three locations to dine in, including elaborately themed rooms straight out of the favorite Disney film. As a Guest, you are invited to relax and pull up a chair in the mysterious West Wing, the Rose Gallery or the grand 2-story Ballroom.

Walt and I talked about the "Beauty and the Beast" film and now sitting in the restaurant, Walt said, "When we consider a project, we really study it--not just the surface idea, but everything about it. And when we go into that new project, we believe in it all the way. We have confidence in our ability to do it right. And we work hard to do the best possible job."

As Walt was talking with Cast Member April, my mind flashed back to a conversation that Jeff Dixon (Author of  Key to the Kingdom and Unlocking the Kingdom) and I had a few months back.  Jeff and I were talking about "Walt Disney and the Art of Storytelling."

"Walt Disney knew and understood how to tell a good story. He told stories that people would remember, talk about, and many of them became classics. Walt wanted to do whatever it took to tell the story the best he possibly could," Jeff said.

As I looked around the room, the story started to unfold before me.
Just then, Belle and the Beast passed by our table and  7 year old princess Christian said, "Mom, this is like being in the movie.” Walt overheard the mom say, "I can say this was my most magical experience in the Magic Kingdom. What magic! "

Walt listened to the Guests at the next table as "Uncle Jack," said "Wow! What an amazing feeling to walk into the Beauty and Beast Castle!  Beautifully done. Amazing food, spectacular atmosphere, great service!”

I noticed a Cast Member and a chef at the table behind us. As they finished their conversation, Walt turned around and asked the family what they thought of the "Be Our Guest, Restaurant."
Mimi introduced herself and her family to Walt, and I and she shared her story with us.

"First off, our server Allen and Chef Richard are gems in Disney's crown. Our daughter has many food allergies, which generally means she is stuck with a healthy, but bland meal when we go out. It is always about what she CAN'T have. Allen said "Not tonight!" and told us of the possibilities; then he went to find Chef Richard. Chef Richard laid out the options to our daughter, Ava. Here was her one-of-a-kind, allergen-free meal: A sparkling lemonade with Wild berry foam, fresh, hot dinner rolls, garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette, pasta with butter sauce and lemon sorbet for dessert! Ava said that for the first time, she felt like she didn't have allergies.   As she told the story, her husband Brandon was in tears to hear her daughter say that.  Brandon continued, "The fact that both my wife's meal and mine were delicious, the atmosphere was fantastic & service was superb paled in comparison. Thank you Allen, Chef Richard & Walt Disney World for that magical experience for my daughter!"

Walt turned to me and said, "We want our Cast Members to focus on providing our Guests with the best experience possible.  Disney service is the gold standard for every business.  Our Cast Members are taught to anticipate the needs of the park's guests, just like Mimi, Brandon and Ava."

2:29 PM- May 24, 2014
As we finished lunch, Walt stood up and walked around the West Wing, the Rose Gallery and then the Grand 2-story Ballroom.  He looked at me and said, "Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends."  As we walk out of the ballroom, I am in awe of the real life stories that just played out before me with the Guests, Cast Members and Walt.

After our lunch, we walked towards Cinderella's Golden Carrousel in the Magic Kingdom (now renamed to  Prince Charming Regal Carrousel). I asked Walt to reflect back on the dream of Disneyland and his two daughters.  I wanted to know how he created the old classic attraction 50 years ago and why they still grab the attention of a young child and mesmerize them today.

3:17 PM - May 24, 2014

Walt stopped at the "Carousel" and sat down on a bench. He paused for a moment as he watched the children and their families laugh, smile and play together.

 "You know," he said, " think about the classic attractions like, Dumbo the Flying Elephant (1955; Peter Pan's Flight (1955; Disneyland Railroad (1955; It's a small world (1966; The Haunted Mansion (1969; Pirates of the Caribbean (1967; and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (1979.   “Part of the Disney success is our ability to create a believable world of dreams that appeals to all age groups. The kind of entertainment we create is meant to appeal to every member of the family.

He stood up and pointed to the "Seven Dwarfs Mine Train."  "I really believe that whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.

Walt continued, "When I was dreaming and designing Disneyland, I believed that I would need to give the people everything you can give them. Keep the place as clean as you can.  Keep it friendly, you know. Make it a real fun place to be. I think they will be convinced and I think it will hang on."

My mind and emotions got the best of me.  What do I say?  I am sitting here with Walt Disney. As I watch the families all having fun and creating memories together, I looked at him, turned my palms upward, spread my arms and said,  Walt, this is it, your dream came true.”

I turned around to ask Walt where he wanted to go next...He was gone! I heard a Guest say, "That looked like Walt Disney...Nah couldn't be.." Or could it?  Was I dreaming?  Did all of this happen? 

Hmm mm, I used my "Smart Phone", and typed "Time Travel-fact or fiction"?

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