I don’t turn down media requests often, but I did the day I was visiting Hollywood Studios recently with my family. We had just parked for the day as swarms of people were migrating to the entrance when an interview request came over my cell phone. I told the producer that I was at Disney World and that I would not be giving any interviews for the entire day. Hollywood Studios for me was more than just a visit to an amusement park; it was a life centering expedition that was the climax of a vacation where I turned off everything for one week, including personal email correspondence. I had some difficult problems to work through and the best place to do it was at one of the most creative places on earth, Disney World, and more suitable to my personal tastes was Hollywood Studios. What sets Hollywood Studios apart from every other theme park in the world is that they go to the extraordinary trouble of having so many live performances as part of their attractions. Hollywood Studios has all the showmanship of a Vegas stage show, with the purity of imagination and family entertainment that is specific to Disney, and I relish those environments as a way to recharge my own creative impulses. So I spent the week leading up to our trip to Hollywood Studios reading books on the balcony of our Cape Canaveral condo, eating 24” pizzas, playing board games with family members till late in the night, playing miniature golf, visiting local tourist spots, throwing football on the beach, and preparing to see two of the greatest live stunt shows anywhere, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, and Lights, Motors, Action, Extreme Stunt Show. My footage from these events can be seen in the video below. Media interviews were forbidden as my thoughts were pretty far down my own personal rabbit hole.
The reason for my self-imposed media exile was that I was thinking of a controversial and complicated thought that I had been wrestling with for about 6 months, and I needed to confirm my suspicions by visiting a known refuge for dreamers, and social statists alike who all desire the same thing. At Disney World no matter what the political affiliation, no mater what the personal philosophy, no matter what the demographic background, every visitor at least wishes to touch the face of greatness for just a moment, and at Disney World this experience is very expensive. But the Disney Company uses the money they make to purchase paradise from the hands of tyranny which exists just out of reach from the Disney Properties in Central Florida. I have said that my favorite place on earth is the Epcot Center located on the property, but very close to it is my love of Hollywood Studios, which holds within it the magic of imagination in the purist form that came directly from the mind of Walt Disney. Located on the Hollywood Studios property is the regional airplane that Uncle Walt used to buy up the Central Florida property in small increments to create his Magic Kingdom. If Disney had not bought up all that “worthless” property and had the vision to build all the wonderful things that are currently at the Disney World Complex, the earth would be on a march back toward the primitive tribal tendencies of mankind’s origins. It was the work of one man who made Disney World such a great place with the solitary intention of giving all human beings in the world the hopes that can only be created with thoughts produced from the mind.
A few days prior my oldest daughter flew into Orlando prompting us to pick her up at the International Airport that was built because of Disney World. The airport has a gigantic hotel in the center of it and is a marvel of efficiency. It is one of the busiest airports in the world and has direct flights to it that are only rivaled by places like Hong Kong, London or Paris. People fly to Orlando for one primary reason, and that is to attend one of the many parks that are in Central Florida—all of which exist because of Walt Disney. As we waited for my daughter to come down the terminal merge, my wife and I notice how many foreign nationals were filling the unloading area. There were clearly people from Brazil, Argentina, China, France, and Russia waiting around us as they all had matching t-shirts indicating their origins so they wouldn’t become lost from one another in a strange country. I saw some of those same t-shirts just a few days later at Hollywood Studios. They had traveled from around the world to see some aspect of Disney World. But why…………………that was the source of my quagmire? It wasn’t enough for me to rationalize that Disney World was just a neat place. There was more to it than that, and I needed the answer to complete my nagging thoughts. This is why I had to visit Hollywood Studios with my family and visit some of the attractions that are very dear to my heart. In some ways visiting Hollywood Studios was like returning home for Christmas to me. The ideals represented at that particular park are part of my very soul.
One of the things that most impresses me at Hollywood Studios is their live shows, the amount of instances where an actor/actress actually handles the attractions. This is most notable at the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Lights, Motors, Action, Extreme Stunt Show which to me are worth the price of admission by themselves. The Indian Jones show is housed on a huge stage that takes up nearly a sixth of the entire park grounds and holds 2000 people in the stands. It is quite a production by itself. But over at Lights, Motors, Action, that show features a grandstand that puts to shame most seating platforms at any state fair in the country, it is so massive that it rivals some football stadiums, and was built just for the stunt show which only plays three times a day. Those stands hold 5000 viewers for each show, and are truly colossal when taken into perspective. Only at Disney World could stunt shows be given these kinds of financial resources, which is why those two features are so valuable to me. I had my grandson with me and even though he was only 9 months old, the pictures of his visit will mean a great deal to him later. Plus I have a very strong belief that worldly impressions are written into the brain of children from a very young age, so it is my task to make sure he gets these experiences, even if he doesn’t consciously remember them.
Hollywood Studios because of their other theme parks is able to dedicate their attention to these live performances, which would be devastatingly cost prohibitive if attempted on their own. I did rough calculations of the amount of employees that Hollywood Studios employed on the grounds and the results are unfathomable. Hollywood Studios does not skimp. Even on their Great Movie Ride, they have theatrical performances where actors/hosts, interact with animatronics to provide a truly epic performance where they didn’t have to. The Little Mermaid stage play featured many live puppeteers where most theme parks would have relied on mechanical props that would give repeatability time and time again. Hollywood Studios is not just dedicated to memorializing the movie business, it is dedicated to the unique human touch that live performances provide and the employees bring a lot of heart and soul to each performance.
When my wife and I dined at the Sci Fi Drive In restaurant, the employees were all happy to be working, and projected a feeling of competency. The same level of attention radiated to even the gift shop attendants. While my wife and I watched our grandson as my kids rode the Tower of Terror a rainstorm erupted and we sought shelter in a gift store where a nice woman with a heavy Kenyan accent showed us to a nice spot in the store where the air conditioner was running on overdrive so we could cool down the baby and get him out of the direct rain. She didn’t have to be nice in that situation, but she was. She was happy to be working there, and it showed. This was the usual experience, not at all the exception.
But the epic performance that easily could have been shown on Broadway in New York was the Fantasmic firework show that took place in an amphitheater setting behind the Tower of Terror ride. For over a half hour Hollywood Studios put on a firework show, a light show, a stage show, and a puppet show on a lake of fire with a giant fire-breathing dragon all rolled up into one performance. They had built another 5000 seat theater similar to the one at Lights, Motors, Action and it was filled with thousands of voices cheering on Mickey Mouse as he battled the dragon from Sleeping Beauty and Fantasia. A gentle roar emerged from the crowd that was as ambitious as a crowd at a football game. As I watched it looked like at least a 100 employees where working to make the Fantasmic show work in a section of the park that was only used for one show at the end of the day. The show itself was just another example of the audacity of Walt Disney World to build huge theaters only to be used once a day. Hollywood Studios seems to almost show off their vast employment ability by providing jobs that no other place of business could afford to make available.
No government on earth at any level of endeavor could create the kind of jobs that are created at Disney World. Hollywood Studios is able to provide large quantities of jobs to creative oriented people just because they are such a large organization that is so profitable they can provide jobs that require such incredibly large overhead. And that is why so many foreign visitors packed the Orlando airport and Hollywood Studios. There is only one country in the entire world and really only one individual from that country that could even envision a place like Disney World. As I studied the vast packs of people from other countries navigating the streets of Hollywood Studios with great enthusiasm the concept hit me like a ton of bricks. The countries where these visitors came from are completely unable to produce any version of Disney World on their own. The only way they could get close to such a place was to save enough money to fly to the United States and visit the place for themselves, a world created by Walt Disney with sheer imagination.
Most people come and go from Disney World without any inkling as to what they saw or why they liked what they saw. They only know as they travel back to their hotels and rest their tired bones in beds that are not their own, leaving them in debt from a vacation that cost between $2000 to $10,000 to do correctly, that they tried really hard to get their families to Disney World for some mysterious reason that dawned on them when they arrived at the front gates in the morning. At Hollywood Studios I took a mental survey all day long counting employees, both in front and behind the scenes, and the general philosophy of the entire place and I realized that the cost of the $90 admission ticket per person was paid for with just two of the major stunt shows, Indiana Jones and Lights, Motors, Action. The rest of the park was just value added, bonuses if visitors had the courage or wherewithal to understand what they were seeing and how important it was to see. Most people who I watched leave at the end of the day saw a lot, but remembered very little except what their cameras would reveal to them later as their minds were on information overload. For most visitors they left Disney World a couple grand poorer, and wondering if it was all worth it because they saw so much that they can’t remember anything. But I don’t have that handicap, and neither does my family. I was much honored to see that my kids enjoyed most at Hollywood Studios the exhibit dedicated to Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream and the Animation Art Gallery. Those two exhibits were hidden in the back of the park and were the least visited areas by far. My kids didn’t want to leave them as we spent nearly 1/5th of the entire day in that small section of the park as the key to all of Disney World was contained within the displays.
Disney World sells hope, dreams and the power of imagination to people who are short on supply. On the other end, Disney World supplies thousands upon thousands of good jobs to people who wouldn’t otherwise have them. There is more wealth in just Orlando because of Disney World than most of the counties that visited from across the world’s oceans, and all that activity was driven by one man who simply wanted to open up the minds of all people and plant dreams upon their thoughts hoping to make their life just a little bit better. Disney World is expensive, but they more than give back the value of their efforts if visitors can maintain the ability to absorb everything.
One of my son-in-laws is from England and under the simmering nighttime lights toward the close of the day; he proclaimed how grateful he was to be able to attend a Disney World park. He stated that like the many visitors I had seen that day from countries all over the world that he feared that he might never make it to such a place in his lifetime. Now he has been to the Epcot Center and Hollywood Studios and his imagination was on overdrive. It was for people like him that Disney dreamed a dream of creating Disney World. Disney offered the experience to everyone who could come up with the price of admission, but he knew that only a handful out of thousands would walk away at the end of each day aware of what Disney World was all about. It is a credit to the company of Disney that they have not forgotten who their founder was, and fight to this very day to keep his dream alive without pretentious input on the behalf of arrogant CEOs who wish to leave behind their own mark of greatness. For Disney it was never about being great—just being good.
When I arrived back to the condo that night sitting by the raging stormy waters of the Atlantic I read the reviews to the new Disney film, the Lone Ranger and saw that like Man of Steel, critics had panned the film a dud. The modern-day progressive critics can’t stand a clean hero who saves the day with a white hat and stallion which is what the Lone Ranger represents, and they are hoping desperately that the film falls on its face as a financial loss for Disney. Those same critics chastise the Disney Company for the high cost of their theme parks and their empire-like status over so many treasured stories, like Pixar films, Marvel Comics, Star Wars and of course the great classics. They despise the Disney Company because they are a successful organization that makes good things for people. Without Disney, much of the world would not currently know anything of goodness, because it is the foundations that were set by Walt Disney which carry on to this very day that are the only hope for large portions of the world to touch ideals that are bigger than their statist lifestyles could garner for them under any other circumstances.
I treasure our visit to Hollywood Studios for deeply personal reasons. I feel calibrated in ways that are better than what I’ve felt in over a decade. I felt as at home at the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular as I do in my own living room. I feel I know every person who worked that stage, and worked as stunt people even though I have not met any of them. They knew the same as I did about Hollywood Studios, and they understood how special the place was, and is to the minds of the world. There are lessons that should be taken from Disney World that government everywhere would do well to follow. I left the park that day feeling deeply sorry for the people who had to fly 10,000 to 20,000 miles to arrive at a park I only had to travel 1000 miles to attend. I wish that they lived in a culture that could produce a comparative experience, but they don’t. Only in America can such a place exist, and only America can produce people like Walt Disney without crushing them out of relevance with statist controls over their very minds.
When I turned down the media request that morning upon arriving at Hollywood Studios, now the answer to why is known—I consider the place to be sacred–that nothing of the outside world should penetrate under any circumstances, and I held to that oath. My daughters watched me hang up the phone to the producer who had called me, and understood without any words needing to be exchanged. In our family there is nothing more sacred than the thoughts that the mind produces, and there is no place on earth more dedicated to thought and imagination than Disney World. When we visit, the rest of the world goes on hold. When I visit such places I touch the most essential parts of my character, and find thoughts that my mind has been desperately trying to push out into the light of day. And for that even though Walt Disney has long since left the earth, he has handed to me a baton of understanding that his Disney World complex was designed to invoke. I know what to do with that baton, and understand the meaning behind the meanings. What is sometimes obvious to all, are simply the contorted images of fatigue that can be seen at the gates of Disney World at the end of the day. Most people see and hear the same things, but they are unable to absorb the information and understand the value. They only sense that something important happened and they immediately begin saving their money for the next visit. But the lesson of Disney World is not that it is to remain an empire in Central Florida, but that the ideas are intended to spread to the far corners of the world to take hold and improve the lives of everyone. The lessons of Disney World are not to copy the business plan of the Disney Company, but to spread the message that underlies everything that the company represents, the telling of stories that are important to the soul of all human beings and their need of mythology to communicate their hopes and dreams to others representing their innermost values. For me it is in the stunt shows at Hollywood Studios. At many levels, I feel an affinity for the danger, the glory, and the explosive hype of the stuntmen who must bring to reality the thoughts of a writer with their finger on the pulse of mythology and the yearnings of the human race fighting against all forms of statism. At Disney World the fight is in the imagination, but in the reality outside the property borders it is quite literal, and the great quest to attend the parks every year from visitors is to escape for just a few hours that horrific realization that no place but Disney World can provide such a safe haven for those with thoughts in their minds and the courage to use them.