John G. (NDI#194) (11 Posts)

John Gray is a curious person who is drawn to other curious people. He is a dreamer and a doer and believes that everyone and everywhere has a story waiting to be told—the trick is in how you tell it.

Mickey house

Graphic Credit: John Gray

What do people see when they come into your home? What do they hear, smell and touch. What do they feel? Maybe there’s a pointed blue hat in the corner, the smell of fresh popcorn or cotton candy, or a family photo in the unmistakable silhouette of a particular mouse. Do people worry when you talk about skybuckets and wedway people movers? Are people confused by your sudden interest in visiting Shanghai in, oh say, 2016 or so? Why would someone put Disney in a place of such importance as to bring it into their homes and their lives? The Disney theme parks are wonderful places to be, but why not go and visit the parks and leave it at that? Is it truly a love of Disney that leads us to such extremes or is it something else—something deeper?

Maybe it has less to do with receiving for ourselves and more to do with giving.

We all have Walt Disney Imagineering to thank for those happy Disney park experiences that dot our childhood (I use the term childhood very loosely). Imagineers are artists and engineers, drafters and researchers, scientists and technological wizards. They come from many unique disciplines and are the dreamers and the doers who put idea to paper, paper to project and project to reality.

When I think about the odd group at WDI, I can’t help but visualize the staff at Gusteau’s, a strange band of misfits and nomads who have come together to do what they do. In the case of Imagineering, the group is linked not by a love of food but rather by a love of telling a great story. At the heart of every Imagineer is a storyteller and the stories they tell are more than just a place to go and a thing to see, they have become part of our lives and our history. They are our stories.

Walt Disney dreamed of a place where people could feel safe to play without fear of intrusion from the outside world. It is in this place and those that came after it that we have made our memories. When you bring home a great memory—when you tell the story of you—and turn it into a new experience to share with those you care about, you become more than a neurotic Disney mom or neurotic Disney dad, you become a storyteller and you become an Imagineer.

Aside from being a combination of imagine and engineer, the word Imagineer is both a noun and a verb. You can slide it into the infinitive “to Imagineer” and take it “to infinity and beyond,” or you can use it aggressively in the imperative, as in the command, “Hey you! Imagineer, immediately!!!” The word is as dynamic as the unique group of people who dream and who do, and by following their lead, we become dreamers and doers as well.

And so our in our house is the story of a mouse.

It’s not just the mouse, but what he represents that we can’t leave confined to film, ship and park. Whatever our personal love for Disney, whether it’s the experience, the thrill, the safety, the warmth, the hope for the future or nostalgia for the past, that little mouse brings it all together. Those three simple circles and the happy places they birthed represent us at our best, our personal story expressed in physical form, and we want to share that story with those who mean the most to us.

Every time we open the door to our homes and our lives, every time we have a new story to share with others, for a short time we become just like the very first Imagineer saying, “To all who come to this happy place, welcome.”


Contributed by: John Gray (NDH#48) John is the Imagineering Blogger.

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