Something strange happens to Luke.
|Well, it had to end eventually. It came down to it and I had finally written my last lesson, the last line about Zootopia (the most recent animated film at the time). I got it published, submitted it, and then it sunk in. Graduation would be in about two weeks, my Master’s would be done, I would be quitting my job at Disneyland and become the apprentice of the CEO of Disney. One week after graduation, I had my first day at the office.
“Wow. Have I ever seen you wear a suit?” Eric said, mocking me that morning.
“Shut up.” I told him. “I’m going to be wearing lots of suits from now on.”
“What’s on the agenda today, your highness?”
“I don’t really know. All I know is that I’m following him around all day.”
“Well, follow well.”
I drove to the studio lot that morning with great anticipation. It was pretty awesome having my own ID badge to use to get on the lot. I was supposed to meet Dan at his office, so I found my way over to the Team Disney building. I met his secretary and let her know I was here to meet Dan. He had let her know to expect me, so she led me back to his office.
“Good morning, Uncle Dan!”
“Good morning, Luke. Ready for your first day?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” I said with a smile.
“Good attitude. Now, we’ve got just a few minutes before the first meeting of the day.”
It was a whirlwind of a day. From 8:15, when the first meeting to started, to 5:00, when the last meeting ended, it was hard to keep it all straight. I felt overwhelmed, dropped in the deep end of the pool and every other cliché thing you can think of throughout the day. Dan took a few minutes with me in his office at the end of the day to talk.
“So, how did you feel today?”
“So much happens in a day, doesn’t it?”
“Yea. Things move pretty fast around here.” He said. “Let’s talk about the meeting with Bob Chapek.”
“What about it?”
“I thought you did well in there. You made some good comments in there.”
“Thanks, I’ve felt pretty out of place all day.”
“Trust me, you’ll get the hang of it. Most people take years to work their way up the ladder.”
I made it through the rest of the week, barely. I had never attended so many meetings in one week in my whole life. By the end of the day on Friday, I think Uncle Dan could see just how stressed out I was from the week.
“You know,” He said, “this position grants you access anywhere on any Disney property whenever you want. When I get stressed out like that, I like to go find somewhere I can be alone at Disneyland or something and think things through. You might want to try it.”
“I think I will, thanks Uncle Dan.” I said.
“No problem. Take it easy this weekend, I’ll see you Monday morning.” He said.
“So, Disneyland in the morning? Or can you not take it after the week you had?” Eric asked when I got home.
“Oh, we’re going in the morning.” I told him.
“Alright!” He said.
“But, do you mind being on your own for a while tomorrow?” I asked him.
“I guess not. Why?” He asked.
“Well, Dan told me I have access to anywhere on any Disney property. I want to find somewhere private in the park tomorrow and try and clear my head a little after this week, you know?” I said.
“For sure, man.” He said.
So, Eric kept walking down Main Street USA while I hung back in Town Square to figure out where I would go. As I thought, I realized that there aren’t that many private hideouts in Disneyland. But, looking around Town Square, I remembered the fire station, Walt’s private apartment. After I decided on the fire station, I went to go find a Plaid, a slang term for those Disneyland Cast Members that lead private tours. I figured they could probably get me in. I found one over in the Tour Gardens.
“Hi there! My name is Luke Stevens.” I greeted the Plaid in the Garden.
“Hi Luke! What can I help you with today?” She said with an enormous smile.
“Well, I’m not sure if any word has spread this far yet, but I’m going to be taking over the company when Dan retires and he told me I already have the perks that come with the job. So, I was looking to spend a little time this morning in Walt’s firehouse apartment. Are you able to get me in there?” I explained.
After some back and forth and calls to her supervisor and Uncle Dan, I managed to get into the apartment. It was amazing to be somewhere in Disneyland that was so quiet. I sat down on the couch and started thinking about the past week. It was a surreal feeling being somewhere so quiet and peaceful in Disneyland. The longer I sat there, the more it sunk in where I was sitting. Walt Disney actually lived here sometimes, I felt so unworthy being there.
“Oh Walt. What am I doing here? I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t take control of this company. I’m not even 30!” I said out loud.
“Now, that’s not what I want to hear from someone about to take charge of my legacy!” A voice responded to me.
“What?!” I exclaimed, startled.
I don’t know any way to put this without sounding totally crazy, but here it goes. Around the corner walked Walt Disney. A man who had been dead for decades was standing before me in the living room of his apartment.
“Walt Disney? How?” I asked.
“Do you really think a little thing like death would separate me from my dreams? Magic is real and a powerful force, Luke.” He said.
“You know my name?” I asked.
“I know all about you. I know everything that’s going on with my company. And besides, we’re family, right?” He said.
“Wow, you really do know all about me.” I said.
“I do, and I know how you feel. Are you forgetting that I came to Los Angeles when I was 22 years old?”
“Oh yea, that’s right.”
“I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, everything I owned fit in a single suitcase. I was never completely certain of anything I did.”
“But everything ended up okay eventually.” I said.
“Yes, it did. But, I also endured my fair share of failure. If you’re serious about leading this company, you can’t be afraid to fail sometimes. It’ll happen, but you can overcome it.” Walt mentored me.
“You really believe in me that much?” I asked.
“Of course, I see so much of myself in you. If anyone is going to keep this company on track, it’s you Luke.” He told me.
“That makes me feel so much better.”
“Look, Luke, I’m always here. When you need help, you just come here and we’ll work things out together. Until then, you still have your uncle Dan to mentor you. Learn all you can and when you take his place, you’ll find yourself more prepared than you think.”
“Thanks Walt.” I said.
I gave him a big hug and he walked out of the room back around the corner. I sort of fell back down onto the couch in disbelief after he left. How was that possible? I’ve always believed in Disney magic, I didn’t know it was actually supernatural. After a few minutes, I regained my strength and left to find Eric.
“Dude!” I said when I found him. “We need to talk.”
“You seem even more freaked than before. What happened?” He asked.
“It’s a crazy story.” I told him.
It was getting to be about that time, so we sat down for lunch.
“So, what’s this crazy story?” Eric asked.
“Okay, so I got into the apartment, right?” I started.
“Sure.” He said.
“So, I’m sitting on the couch, thinking out loud. I start talking about how unfit I feel about everything. Then, out of nowhere, Walt Disney walks around the corner.” I told him.
“No! How?” He asked.
“Magic? I don’t know. We had a conversation, he made me feel a lot better about everything.”
“You literally saw him?”
“I didn’t just see him, I physically hugged him!”
“If anyone else told me this, I would think they were crazy. But, you man? It must’ve happened somehow.”
“Should I tell Uncle Dan? Or is it too crazy?”
“I don’t know man, maybe it’s happened to him too.”
On Monday morning, I met Uncle Dan in the office to talk about the upcoming week. Dan had an interview for some business industry thingy later in the week, and there were several parks and resorts meetings and some check-ins with animation.
“So, how do you feel about the week?”
“I’m excited. It should be a good week.”
“That it should.”
“I actually wanted to talk to you about something.”
“Go for it, we have some time.”
“So, I spent some time in Walt’s apartment on Saturday and things got kind of weird.”
“Weird, how?” He had a sly smile on his face, like he already knew.
“I saw Walt Disney.”
“Did he talk to you?”
“Yea, how did you know? He reassured me about the job and made me feel like I can do it. Then we hugged it out.”
“Of course I knew, I go there all the time when I’m stressed or don’t know what to do about something. Walt is always there for me, and you it seems.”
“So, what? Does he appear to the CEOs? Or whoever he chooses? Or what?”
“It’s hard to say. When I told the guy who had the job before me about it he told me I was crazy. I knew I wasn’t crazy.”
“I wonder if magic is genetically transmittable?” I said, thinking out loud.
“Magic? You think you possess magical qualities?”
“I just wonder if we both do. You know we’re related to Walt Disney, right?”
“I didn’t know that I was.” He said. “When you told me, you said you didn’t know if it was through your mom or your dad.”
“Oh, well, it’s through my mom. So, you’re related too.”
“Huh. I wonder if that is it then.”