28 – A Window Opens

On my next visit to the Golden Horseshoe I find out that Wally has decided to retire. As sad as this news is to the fan in me, it also means that I could get 2 days a week steady employment covering the days Wally’s Number One understudy isn’t there.

Jim Adams has been Wally’s alternate for years. Jim is a talented comic and ventriloquist and, more importantly, one of the sweetest guys you’d ever want to meet. I’ve enjoyed his work for years and think I’ll be perfectly happy working under him…

Except that Jim is leaving with Wally. They are going off together to create shows and concepts for a new theme park opening in Las Vegas. That’s going to leave me and Dick Hardwick, comic musician with the Main Street Maniacs (who, you might remember, starred in the ‘Yahoo Revue’ with Handpicked years before).

But when Wally leaves, I suddenly lose my voice. To this day, I don’t know why; it might have been nerves but I’ll never know. All I know is I can’t do the show, so Dick Hardwick fills in for a couple weeks and in that time falls in love with the job. By the time I finally return Dick has the full-time gig.

In spite of any full-time dreams I might have had I have to admit and I believe to this day that Dick was the right guy for the job. He exudes that Disney brand of wholesome charm and he’s funny and talented as anyone I’ve ever met. All the same, it is a bitter pill to swallow. A friend tries to console me with the old phrase, “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” So I start looking around for a window.

# # # # #

Two benefits of working at Disneyland: 1) the opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see where and how the magic is created, and 2) the chance to network with the magicians.

On this particular morning the Disney University is hosting a seminar on careers at WED Enterprises, and the guest lecturer is Tony Baxter. He shares stories of his early experiences in Anaheim, Orlando and Glendale and then turns to discuss his current project, a new pavilion for the upcoming EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney used to delight in telling people about his next project, watching their reactions to each new detail as he described it, using their response to gauge the quality of each idea and to fire his own enthusiasm for the story being told. All Imagineers were like that once, in the days before we Disney Fans drove them underground and competition and legal concerns made secrecy an necessary priority

On this day, though, Tony shares ideas and graphics from his latest effort, Eastman Kodak’s Journey Into Imagination. He displays a series of concept sketches of the building and describes the ride system, then he shows us a sketch of the two host characters of the pavilion…

… And once again, my life changes.

According to Mister Baxter, Dreamfinder and Figment represent the two halves of the human mind; Dreamfinder is the practical, experienced, educated left side of the brain, whereas Figment represents the impulsive, wild, childlike right side. Together they host a spectacular trip through the creative process. AND they will be the only Disney characters to be found anywhere in EPCOT Center.

I’m suddenly seized with the same thought I’d experience 12 years ago when I first saw Wally Boag at the Golden Horseshoe. I know what I want to do next with my life; I want to be the Dreamfinder.

About Ron Schneider

Creative Consultant, Lecturer, Freelance Writer, Director & Show Doctor, Actor and Voice-Over. Lifelong student of themed interactive entertainment.
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