Feature: If Walt Was Alive…

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Long before I started writing, podcasting, and vlogging about Disney, I saw myself as part of the Disney community. I read blogs and forums. It was my secret passion that I didn’t tell anyone about. I was a punk rock kid from Denver that loved all things Disney. This post, however, isn’t about me. It’s about my long term love-hate relationship with the Disney fan community and the phrase “If Walt was alive…” followed by some nonsense I don’t care to read past.

What I noticed when I was sifting through the news, editorials, and rumors of the Disney company was that the negativity towards the Walt Disney company post Walt’s passing was overwhelming and somewhat sad. Sure there have been questionable decisions and sure there will be ridiculous mistakes made, but during Walt Disney’s time, there were mistakes and questionable decisions as well. The Disney community tends toward believing that Walt Disney was the perfect man. He was amazing at doing business. He was wonderfully talented. He was the best husband and father that ever existed. All of these are half truths because he was also a failed businessman at one point in his life and asked much of his animators, including long hours where they didn’t see their families.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I put Walt Disney on a pedestal. I think of him in high regard, but I also have to tell myself that even my hero made bad decisions every once and a while. So when I hear someone say, “If Walt were alive, he would probably say this!” but the fact of the matter is that Walt isn’t around anymore. We have Bob Iger. Tom Staggs will come after him. Michael Eisner came before him. All have or will make mistakes during their tenure as head of the Walt Disney company. Nobody is perfect, not even Walt Disney, who’s films are revered today, but many of them didn’t make back the money spent on them during their time.

Through the research I’ve done for Modern Mouse and from getting to talk with some of the people who worked with Walt Disney and those who worked post Walt Disney’s death, I can give you my educated answer to any question that begins with “If Walt Was Alive..” The answer is this! As long as your whole heart is in it, you’ve got the best people working on it, and you believe it will succeed, that’s all that matters. I think that’s what Walt would say if he was alive.

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Hindsight is 20/20 and for us to critique things happening in the present, regardless of how weird or crazy or “Not Disney” the idea is, someone within the Walt Disney company believes in it. Somebody believed in the movie “Home on the Range”. It didn’t work out, but someone else believed in “Frozen” and it struck gold. Walt opened Disneyland believing an underwear store and an attraction called “The Hall of Chemistry” would be thrilling. Later someone believed in Space Mountain and Star Tours. Now someone believes providing Starbucks Coffee is a great thing.

Maybe in your opinion, you aren’t a fan of some of the changes made to Walt Disney’s company, but trying to justify your opinion through Walt’s voice with the phrase “If Walt was alive…” just doesn’t cut it. Maybe things will fail. Maybe they will succeed. We will only know in the years that follow. If it fails, that’s okay, as long as something else succeeds. The Walt Disney company isn’t hurting and it certainly isn’t anywhere near bankruptcy so they must be meeting the demands of someone somewhere. My advice to those who do ask “What would Walt think?” is to believe in good intentions and that this ship will sail safely through the years because the people who work at the Walt Disney company love Walt Disney too and they want to do him proud.

Josh Taylor
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Modern Mouse Radio is a multimedia Disney fan site run by Josh Taylor and put together by a crew of amazing individuals. Check us out. You won't be disappointed.

Posted on March 5, 2015, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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