Sunday, February 24, 2013

Walt Disney and Ronald Regan Together . . . Again

Walt Disney and Ronald Regan Together . . . Again

            The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is hosting a temporary display, D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives! This incredible exhibit closes April 30th. If you get a chance to visit Simi, California and the Reagan Library before this exhibit leaves I highly recommend it. It is worth the $21 per person admission price. Besides the Disney exhibit you will also receive access to the complete Reagan Library including Air Force One.
          During our visit to the Ronald Reagan Library many times we heard other guests saying, “Why does Disney have a display here?” “Disney has no place here at the Reagan Library!” “Disney will do anything to make money.” Little did these people know there is a strong connection between Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney and the Disney Company. In fact Disney is one of the main supporters of the Ronald Reagan Library.
          Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan knew each other through the movie industry. Their lives would often cross at various industry functions and award ceremonies. Because the two men had a similar view of life and America they became friends. I do not believe that they often spend time together but there is evidence of correspondence and such proving more than just a business acquaintance.
          When Walt Disney opened his new amusement Park, Disneyland in 1955 he asked three of his closest movie industry friends to help out by hosting a live TV show showing the opening day celebration. The three friends were Ronald Reagan, Art Linkletter and Bob Cummings. Several times throughout through the show you see Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan together talking about Walt’s new playground.
          These three men were more than just business acquaintances they were friends and supporters of Walt the man and his dream. All three accepted only SAG union wages, as required by union rules and I believe only one asked for and received anything above that. Art Linkletter asked for and received 10% of the profit from the Kodak film camera concessions in the park for several years.
          The relationship between Walt and Ronald Reagan went deeper than just the business side. Both were proud Americans and held the same optimistic view of America and Americans. They believed in ingenuity and never giving up. They both believed that with hard work and a positive outlook tomorrow can and will be a better day.
          They were both problem solvers. I’m sure any real Disney fan can come up with several examples of the problems that Walt solved from the multi-plane camera to the designing of rides such as the Matterhorn. Because of Walt’s desire we have tubular steel roller coasters and audio animatronic entertainment in the parks.
        Reagan also met problems head-on and solve them. Remember his famous words, “Mr. Gorbachev take down this wall!” But here’s a funny problem the Reagan solved after he left the White House. While overseeing the construction of his library in Simi Valley he instructed that an exact replica of the Oval Office be built. It was to have the same exact dimensions and the furniture and decorations would either be his original or reproduction of everything that was in the Oval Office while he was in office. Problem was the architect and construction chief came to Reagan and said, “Mr. President we have a problem, we accidentally made the ceiling of the Oval Office 4 feet to low. Because the roof is already on the building we cannot add 4 feet to ceiling.” Mr. Reagan replied, “If you can’t go up dig down.” So when you go to see the Oval Office display at the Reagan Library you will have to go down steps were around 4 feet because that part of the building is 4 feet lower.
          After going through the D23 Disney exhibit and then through the Reagan Library I realized that both men were one-of-a-kind. The world will never see two men quite like these again. Both were great communicators, visionaries and had great belief in America and its people. Both had seen the worst in life but chose to focus mainly on the positive while preparing to deal with the worst if it happened again. They did not let their negative past influence their positive hope for the future. There is much to be learned from both Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney. No matter how old you are, how much you earn or what lifestyle you live we can all be better by looking at the world through these two great men’s eyes.
          Both men believed that with a strong America the world’s future was hopeful. They also believed that if America was weak the world’s future was bleaker. They believed in the founding principles of our country that those principles should be upheld, protected and nurtured to be passed on to future generations.

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