First things first. Who is Gary and why is he making me cry?
This is Gary Buchanan and he works for Disney. I first met Gary back in May of this year when I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.
(Seen here with the very nerdtastic Ashely Eckstein of Her Universe)
Now, before you roll your eyes and think, Oh great, here comes another post about pixie dust, I think you could stand to learn a few of the lessons that Gary taught me. They may or may not make you cry.
Keep this as your frame of reference (or disclaimer): I do love all.things.Disney and I am an emotional sap. But that’s not why I ended up crying when I saw Gary again last week at the Type-A Parent Conference in Atlanta.
Gary is the Social Media Managing Editor for Disney Parks and was the keynote speaker on the last day of the conference. I expected a fun, feel-good kind of morning. It is Disney after all.
The keynote description was as follows:
Learn how Disney Parks use creativity to drive social media efforts on the Disney Parks Blog and complement efforts on other Disney Parks social media channels including Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook. Gary will provide some social tools that can be used with a heaping helping of creativity (and Pixie Dust). Gary’s keynote is a capsulized look at how creativity and content combine to promote Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.
As expected, Gary showed us some of his favorite videos that he’s had the chance to work on, like eating The Kitchen Sink all by himself and dancing alongside a cast member at one of the parades (both of which I highlighted in a Disney post earlier this year).
But the real message came through loud and clear this time. It wasn’t about the videos or the silliness (both of which Gary is good at). It’s about this one thing:
Imagination and creativity go hand in hand and Gary revealed to us that at Disney there are no rules for creativity.
As one of the finest examples of this, he cites one of my favorite people of all time, Walt Disney himself.
Walt didn’t have a vision of an amusement park with lots of rides. He wanted a place where he could tell stories that could be shared by children and adults alike.
Consider the way he laid out his parks, something most of us never give thought to. He built the first hub and spoke model for a park and it was very intentional.
Walt wanted your experience to simulate that of a movie theater, a place where we can get lost in stories and fantasies. He built the entrance like a movie theater lobby might be: a broad opening for the arriving crowds complete with popcorn vendors to your left. Yes, always to your left.
Then you walk down Main Street USA. Imagine this is the aisle in the movie theater and when you finally get to the main attraction, you see it. THE CASTLE! And from there, you pick the direction of the park you want to head in. It’s the original “choose your own adventure.”
It’s imagination and creativity but it’s all designed with purpose. Now, in case you’re wondering where I’m going with all of this, how it relates to you, and what it all has to do with Gary making me cry, stay with me. I’m almost there.
What inspired me the most about Walt Disney and still inspires me about Gary Buchanan is the commitment to creativity.
When Gary makes a video, he holds nothing back. He immerses himself in the moment and creates a highly entertaining experience for everyone.
When he hosted the Star Wars-themed Disney Parks Reception at the conference, he didn’t get on stage and thank everyone for coming and yada, yada, yada. He showed up fully dressed in his Jedi robe and making us all giddy about everything Disney.
He believes in his brand and he is committed to what it represents. As content creators in our lives both online and off, I think that’s a powerful lesson to learn.
So what about those tears? As I mentioned, I’m a sap and just the mention of Disney conjures up so many happy memories of an annual trip to the movies as a kid (it was a rarity in those days) or a family trip where we always make memories. I cried some happy tears and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
But the sob-inducing moment came when Gary talked about one of my favorite series of Disney movies ever: Toy Story.
In the very first Toy Story movie, Andy’s room is covered in wallpaper with a very distinct cloud pattern. At a young age, all of his dreams were held in that room.
As we reached the end of the series with Toy Story 3, the movie ends with Andy giving away the toys that were such a part of his world as he heads off to college. If you were like me and busy trying to fix the leak in your eyes at this point in the movie, you may have missed one of the most significant and intentional parts of the movie.
The camera pulls back and we see a sky that very closely resembles the wallpaper in Andy’s bedroom, representing the fact that his dreams now held no bounds.
I may or may not be tearing up right now as I relive this moment, both from the movies and from Gary’s keynote.
What I love the most about Disney is the reminder that our dreams have no bounds and that the only limits to our creativity and imagination are the ones that we put on it.