For much of Walt Disney’s life, the mood in the United States followed his lead. His vision of a “great big beautiful tomorrow” – that a better world, fueled by technology and an increased understanding of each other – helped provide a sense of optimism to everyone. When he died, some of that optimism died with him.
I suspect many of us had similar feelings when it was announced that the Disney parks would be closing due to COVID-19 concerns – I know I did. Walt Disney World and Disneyland are my “Happy Places” – where I could forget about the troubles of the outside world and focus on the positive aspects of my life. And now these places were closed. Even though I didn’t have a trip planned, the fact that I couldn’t go there – no one can – hit me emotionally and, in some ways, made all of this “real.”
So how do we cope in times like this?
Things are tough, but so are you
After Walt passed, the Imagineers (eventually) had to pick themselves up and figure out how to move on. Walt’s brother Roy postponed his retirement to oversee the work on Disney World (then insisted it be named Walt Disney World). Later, the leaders of the company had to decide what to do with the impetus of The Florida Project, that being EPCOT. While what was built wasn’t Walt’s original vision, it became one of the most well attended theme parks in the world and allowed countless guests to experience different technologies and cultures.
Times were tough, but they were tougher, and they made the world a better place with their efforts and determination – and we all have that opportunity as well. To push through these hard times and focus on the tasks at hand.
Do the next right things
I am sure I am not the only one who has had Frozen II playing on Disney+ fairly constantly since it was released to the streaming service. For those not familiar, at one point in the movie, Anna is disheartened by her situation and not sure how she can go on, with no idea of how the problem at hand can ever be resolved. But instead of giving up, she proceeds to do “the next right thing,” and, of course, sings a song about it:
“When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I’ll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing “
That feels a bit like us now: we don’t know how or when the situation we find ourselves in will get back to normal – or if it ever will. There is so much out of our control right now. We can’t jump to the ending, but what we can do is focus on the here, focus on the now, and choose to do the “next right thing.” Think of one thing you can do right now to help your situation, to help your mental health, to bring a little Disney into this moment. If we go moment by moment, we can get through this!
It’s a small world after all
One thing we do have going for us is the technology we have at our fingertips and how it can connect us to other people around the world – even if we are physically confined to our homes. Using social media and forums like disboards.com to connect to other Disney fans can help make us feel much less isolated. Discussing with others our passions and interests, sharing tips and ideas, really can lift our spirits and keep us engaged.
We are also seeing people use their influence to provide enjoyment for others. Josh Gad is reading stories online each night to kids (of all ages). Kevin-John Jobcynski is providing daily art classes (starting with drawing Baby Yoda). But it isn’t just celebrities – lots of people are finding ways to share a bit of brightness to others – which can be particularly valuable for people that still have to work in these times and have to expose themselves to risks for the betterment of others. Knowing we are all interconnected in this world can help make things seem a bit less scary, and that it truly is a small world after all.
See you real soon!
Remember that even though times are tough (and they are, it is totally ok to be upset, hurt, mad about your situation – including not being able to go to Disney), you are also tough. You have gone through things in your life and gotten through them, and you will get through this, too – perhaps in an even stronger position.
We don’t know when or how this will end – we can’t control a lot of this. What we can do is the next right thing. Keeping focus on the next moment can help make the whole thing less intimidating.
Leverage technology to make this a “Small World.” People are putting their talents out into the world: and you can feed off that when you need it….and take your turn putting out into the world what you can – even if just to reach out to a friend or neighbor. We are in this together!
While these certainly are trying times, the parks will be there for you to return to at some point – and just think how meaningful the next time you step into a Disney park will be, knowing all that you have gone through. Remember, with Disney it is never goodbye, it is always “see you real soon.”