The time I have spent in the House of the Mouse all started when I was two years old and my mother took me to Disneyland for the first time. Though I don’t remember to exact details of the trip, I do remember being pushed around in my metal stroller with a suction cupped Mickey Mouse stuck to my plastic snack tray. I had an iconic swirly lollipop in my hand, and I had just snagged a stuffed Donald Duck as we were walking out of one of the stores. After a brief reprimand for taking something that wasn’t mine, my mom’s friend who was with us, purchased the doll for me, which I proudly sat next to me for the rest of our trip.
A few years later, my parents surprised my younger brother and I by pulling up to the Disneyland Hotel, where we would be staying for our first time. They were so excited that they had saved up their money to take us on a most Magical Trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. It was a shining moment for them as parents. It became a cornerstone for a lifetime of experiences with Disney.
Even with Las Vegas a short 4-hour car ride to Disneyland we still felt like we own a little piece of it. My siblings and I would have competitions to find our way around without a map. Every time I walk through those turn-styles, I feel the connection. A home away from home. My playground, so to speak.
Now it is a place where I get to combine business and fun. A few weeks ago I was invited to interview newly appointed President of Disneyland Parks, Michael Colglazier. Mr. Colglazier spent over 20 years with the Disney Company, based in Orlando, Florida, where he served as Vice President, from 2010-2013, of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. But California and Disneyland are new to him.
We sat, face to face, inside the living room of the Dream Suite. Mr. Colglazier looking comfortable in an antique reproduction of a Queen Anne’s arm chair, with a Disney-fied fire illuminating the grand wood carved, white fireplace behind him. We had just taken a tour of the rooms and living space the Disney family had intended to fill upon completion. Sadly, Walt Disney passed before the suite was finished, and the family felt, without him, the suite just wouldn’t be the same and left it unfinished. Years later, the Disney Company decided to re-open the Dream Suite and allow it to be used for very special cases and events. An open conversation about the parks pursued, and a question came up about the main difference between Walt Disney World and Disneyland, Mr. Colglazier said,
” Walt Disney World is clearly a tourist destination, and the people you talk to about it are OK with that, with it being a tourist destination. When I get into any conversation about Disneyland and the Disneyland Resort with my neighbors (here in California), it is clearly not the tourist destination. This place is so woven into the fabric of people’s lives for generations. Everybody has their own version of bringing that out. People really view Disneyland and Disneyland Resorts as theirs. It is a part of their lives, and that is really special. That is important for me to continue to understand more deeply. To undertand what goes into that generationally so we can make sure it continues on as generations move forward.”
I’m not sure if it was the company, the atmosphere or the moment, but when Michael Colglazier made that statement, it went straight to my heart. My throat got tight, and my eyes blinked fast to hold back tears. Yes. Exactly. That was exactly it. It is an ownership. I felt and feel connected to that particular park. It’s my park. Those are my rides. My experiences. My memories. They are my grandparent’s memories of saving up enough money to buy a ticket book and entrance for my mom and her siblings. They are my mom and dad’s memories of bringing us to the park for the first time. My memories with my siblings, my cousins, my friends. And, now my memories with my children. Every inch of Disneyland Park holds a memory for me. It is mine, and it belongs to me. Just like it belongs to you.
The Disneyland Dream Suite is not open to the public. I was invited to a Private Event representing TravelingMom.com.