You’ve probably heard this quote before. It tends to be thrown around pretty freely in the Disney community, often to justify the closure of something in the parks to make way for the latest and greatest. Sometimes that change seems natural and sometimes it’s more difficult to swallow. Especially in times of uncertainty, it’s easy to focus on the first part of the quote—”Disneyland will never be completed”—and dismiss the sentiment as trite. Even worse, invoking Walt’s words can sound like camouflage for any manner of missteps.
So today during the season of Thanksgiving, why am I grateful for this statement? I’m thankful because of the resolution of the thought—the focus on the imagination that is left in the world. Walt was careful to build in a caveat, a contingency. Certainly, things in the parks can’t stay the same forever, but change simply for the sake of change is generally unwise. Instead, Walt advised that growth must come from a wellspring of creativity. This kind of imagination is a resource that will never run out as long as there are those who seek beauty and simple joys. If the basis for progress comes from a place of authenticity and vision, it carries with it a confidence for the future.
Even further, I believe that Walt was saying the perpetual cycle of imagination itself creates a state of continuous development. Changes are inevitable when creative minds are inspired to put their skills to work. The allure of what could be creates a never-ending passion for creation. To this end, Walt also said the following:
“That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.”
“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
“I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.”– Walt Disney
So today, I am thankful for Walt Disney’s spirit of innovation that means Disneyland will never be completed. I am thankful for the very real ways that imagination is left in the world and shows itself in the Disney parks across the globe. The creatives who have inherited Walt’s legacy have done him proud. I appreciate the chance to experience the parks anew because of their devotion to keeping the magic alive.
What are you grateful for today? We hope you will join our celebration of the 23 Days of Thanksgiving by sharing what makes you thankful in the comments below! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!