4 Reasons Walt Disney World Needs to Keep One Man’s Dream Open
As I write this, I am melancholy. One of my absolute favorite attractions in all of Walt Disney World is rumored to be in its last days, and there are plenty of signs to indicate this to be true. One Man’s Dream has been open for nearly 15 years and as new attractions appear on the horizon, it seems this small but mighty experience will close to make way. With that in mind I had to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and visit this important attraction for a proper send off. I’d like to share with you the highlights of the incredible historical collection and the four reasons an attraction of this nature is oh so necessary at Walt Disney World.
- The Big Picture
So many guests visit Walt Disney World without knowing the resort’s place in the grand Disney universe. Many guests think Walt Disney World came before any other Disney destination, others have no idea about the parks over seas, while others don’t even realize that the Walt Disney Company owns ESPN, ABC, Marvel, LucasFilm and so much more.
One Man’s Dream is set in chronological order. As we stroll through the museum-like exhibits we do so following a timeline. As the Walt Disney Company grew and grew we start to see the birth of new divisions within the company as well as acquisitions. Prior to entering the theater to watch the finale film that always brings a tear to my eye, we can gaze upon beautiful models of various theme park icons from Disney Parks around the globe. It is at this end that we can fully understand the incredible scale and reach of this entertainment juggernaut that was once just a budding little cartoon studio in LA.
- American History
Beyond the history of Walt Disney and the Walt Disney Company, we can view an important timeline in American history. Walt and his family faced the many challenges of life in the Midwest during the turn of the 20th century. His father’s failures and struggles were not unlike that of so many Americans during that time. The impact of World War I, separating families, a rise in patriotism and sense of duty, and the resulting need to rebuild the country after the war’s conclusion is prevalent in Walt’s story.
The momentum of rebuilding and pursuit of the American dream that sprang from the events of World War I, pushed Walt and his brother Roy to build a life for themselves. They leaned together and through tenacity and will power they built their own business. When things looked darkest when their star character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and the majority of their animators were taken from them, Walt and his team pulled together to create what would become the most iconic character in the world: Mickey Mouse. One could argue that this drive, this sense of attaining success no matter what, might not have been instilled in Walt and his brother had they not grown up in the period in which they did.
The Walt Disney Studios involvement in World War II also gives us another glimpse into American History. Once again fear and doubt was opposed by American pride and ingenuity. When the war was over America faced another period of rebuilding. This period gave birth to the optimism of the 1950s and a focus on family. It is easy to consider that this focus helped inspire Walt to create Disneyland.
As we view the exhibits and artifacts of One Man’s Dream we can also gaze at photos of eras gone by. While the focus of these exhibits is the life of Walt Disney, there is an underlying opportunity to learn about American history. Much of Walt’s story is the story of America itself.
- A picture of progress
In the same vein of seeing the impact of America’s history on Walt Disney’s life, we can also view how technology progresses over the years. During Walt’s early years the steam train fascinated him and automobiles were a new phenomenon. We can see the impact of this as well as catch a glimpse of the simplicity of public schools during Walt’s childhood.
As we journey through One Man’s Dream we see the progress of film technology by viewing models of the multi-plane camera and the “dancing man”, which led to the birth of audio-animatronics. In fact, as we journey deeper into the attraction we come across many items that show the progress of this important theme park entertainment technology, including the tiki birds of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and the audio-animatronic of Abraham Lincoln.
It is also interesting to see how toys and merchandise progressed through the years. Consumer products have always been an important component of the Walt Disney Company’s financial DNA. A selection of toys and merchandise are on display, dazzling the eyes of many collectors. It is fascinating to see both the simplicity and the craftsmanship of these items.
There have been various incarnations of attractions that tell the story of Walt Disney. One Man’s Dream is most certainly not the first one. If we do soon see the end of this attraction perhaps a new and improved version will take its place. Imagine using new technology like projection mapping and incorporating the use of smart phones or tablets. Disney could hone in on how technology has progressed in the past 15 years to create a new compelling attraction to tell its most important story: the story of its creator.
- Walt Disney
I am sure I am not alone when I say that one of the main reasons I have remained such an avid fan of the Walt Disney Company as an adult is because of the first two words in the company’s name: Walt Disney. Walt’s story is the quintessential American dream. A man who came from a struggling family, a difficult youth, a man who served our country, and took a huge chance to make it in Hollywood. His success was not without multiple hardships and struggles, but he kept working at it and now we have the most visited family destination in the world to enjoy because of one brilliant man and his incredible team.
As time marches on we get further and further away from Walt’s time. The men and women that worked with him, learned from him, are passing on. We really cannot say with 100% certainty what Walt would have wanted. However, we can look to his story to understand his values. More importantly we can look to his story to understand what it means to have an incredible work ethic, a fascinating imagination, and the importance of nourishing a team so they can rally around you and thrive.
It’s an oft repeated quote from Walt: “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse.” My hope is that not only do we as Disney fans and park guests never lose sight that it was all started by one man, but that we as humanity never lose sight of the American dream.
It takes perseverance, struggle, sacrifice, and an unwavering work ethic, but it is possible to attain whatever it is that each one of us defines as success and happiness. While One Man’s Dream may soon close its doors, let Walt Disney World and Disneyland stand as living monuments to Walt’s legacy.
19 thoughts on “4 Reasons Walt Disney World Needs to Keep One Man’s Dream Open”
Great article, great points. I am very disappointed that this attraction is nearing its end. If we close our eyes to history, we will lose so much. If a fraction of guests truly knew the reason for the parks and the history of the company, people would understand why the Disney Parks are so much more than an “amusement” park. I hope Bob Iger recognizes that these pieces need to stay as a nod to the man who started it all, but also the importance of teaching the past. Uncle Walt always had one foot in the past and one in the future. For the integrity of the company to remain, Iger needs to follow suit.
What a beautiful article. I sincerely hope that they do not close the attraction – or at least not permanently as like you have said I think it is important not to loose sight of the man who started something which so many now hold so dear and the values that he embodied so that the park’s can continue to move in the direction Walt would have wanted in the years to come. It’s even more important as time passes to look back and remember how such things have progressed. Please Disney if you are reading this don’t close One Man’s Dream!!!
Knowing what we do about Walt Disney, I think he would be the first to say to take it down in order for the park to become better as a whole and for the theming of that area to be more fluid. That being said, I do agree that it is a very important attraction and hope that they find a new home for it either in the studios or possibly Magic Kingdom.
One thing that makes the Disney parks different from other theme parks is the rich history and tradition that we all love and enjoy each time we visit. True, having a “mini museum ” next door to Toy Story might not seem ideal, but it’s a wonderful place to stop, soak up Walt’s inspirations and motivation to bring us the entertainment venue we love. It seems like the Disney company is beginning to lose sight of maintaining historical perspective. Please keep this attraction at DHS. It’s a way to explain who Walt was and to explain his dream to future generations visiting his dream!!
Jim Korkis wrote about the closing a couple days ago as if it’s already a done deal and will happen by the end of the month. However, I’ve seen nothing confirming this anywhere. Jim is one of those guys who has access to things the rest of us don’t, so I suspect the rumors are true.
The reality is that for most guests, this sort of history just isn’t very important. Just like Disney eventually had to admit that Epcot (or, later, the Disney Institute) couldn’t make it as an “edutainment” experience, it seems they have to admit that more traditional attractions will take precedence over exhibits like this, as much as folks like us enjoy them.
My husband’s uncle recently passed away and he had what seems to be the same Mickey and Minnie hand car shown in this article. Here is a picture (sorry for the poor quality) http://i.imgur.com/ay19kPl.jpg . Can you email me the picture that appeared in this article? We are trying to assess the value of that item. Thank you
You can right click on the photo to save it. I am sorry to hear of your Uncle-in-laws passing. Thanks for reading the post.
Thank you. I am trying to read what is on “plaque” but the resolution is too low. Can you let me know what it says? I hope this exhibit is still open for my visit in a month. Thank you
That Mickey & Minnie handcar is a Lionel wind-up model made in the mid 1930’s. They made a lot of them, so the value is largely dependent on the condition. http://www.waltdisney.org/blog/disney-and-lionel
Thank you so much for follow-up and the link. That is really interesting.
Love “One Man’s Dream”. Went to it for the first, and now it seems, last time in September 2013. Really loved the history of the parks as well as the models of them. The film was very educational as well. It made a lasting impression on my family. A few months back one of my children asked if I remembered a Walt fact from the film. Something that a pre-teen remembers from a film almost 2 years earlier is quite an accomplishment showing how well done and important the showcase is.
Long ago, as I recall, the Mickey Mouse Revue in Magic Kingdom included a very similar theme of showing the history behind the company. I loved that attraction and was crushed when it simply disappeared. I was glad to see that portion of MMR expanded and presented so beautifully in One Man’s Dream. I have to hope and trust that a company so in tune with its own history will bring it back again if and when One Man’s Dream closes.
We spend at least an hour in there every time we visit. I really hope they move it and enhance it. There is no other place in Disney world where you can get a true sense of Walt’s accomplishments and the impact this one man had on all of us.
We were there several years ago in the evening. Everyone was at Fantasmic and the place was empty. One of the cast members gave us the most in depth tour you could imagine. We earned so much from him. I will never forget what he told me. His manager wanted to relocate him to another attraction and kept trying to get him to go along with the relocation. He said to his boss “no thank you, I’m staying here with Walt”
It would be very sad if this closed and people do not have the opportunity to learn what a remarkable man Walt Disney was.
I understand that the attraction won’t necessarily fit in with the new Toy Story Land that will be built in DHS, but it still makes sense as a piece of Hollywood history. It would make sense in the old Hollywood buildings of the “Main Street” or whatever they call it, or on Sunset Boulevard. But that would mean removing retail space (and you know that isn’t gonna happen).
Heck, it would even make sense in one of the unused spaces of Communicore/Innoventions. After all EPCOT was the last major project of Disney himself, the application of everything he learned from Disneyland, technology, and education. It may not be futuristic, but it still makes a lot of sense.
My daughter and I will be devastated if they close this. Its actually one of the highlights of our visits to HS. We don’t do the big roller-coasters, and with the closure of so many attractions at HS lately, we are beginning to wonder if its even worth a visit now – maybe just a couple of hours to see Beauty & the Beast, Little Mermaid, Toy Story and the Great Movie Ride – though how many of these will still be around for our next visit in June 16 is anyone’s guess. So disappointing Disney. I know things need to change in order to progress, but you need to keep One Man’s Dream – because without that dream, there wouldn’t be any Walt Disney World!
It would be nice if they found another home for this, like Disney Springs.
We had a walk around One Mans Dream last time we were there. I think that, although interesting, it’s place isn’t necessarily in a theme park. Having walked around it once, I have to say I probably wouldn’t bother walking around it again but would concentrate on other attractions. I am not sure that all the guests care what the history of the park is but just want to have a good time. I understand, however, that there are a lot of Disney fans who are interested so perhaps it should all be moved to the Disney museum?
Such a shame that it is closing, I was hoping it would be there next year so that my partner could get an understanding of why my daughter and I love it so much. This will be my 7th time, daughters 5th time and his very first time.