Disney World's Lesson for America
by Tom Donelson on October 10, 2012 at 8:49 AM
Walt Disney was an entrepreneur and a visit to Disney World is proof of the entrepreneur spirit of its founder as Disney World still is the premier vacation family resort. Disney traveled to Hollywood from the Midwest with very little change in his pocket along with an imaginary mouse to become one of Hollywood's great studios. Now Disney is more than an animation production, but a multi entertainment network from Sports, television to movies, and resort entertainment.
Disney World was a brilliant stroke of genius, an idea that went beyond the California Disney land that stretched the imagination of what a amusement part was to be. Disney World has set a standard for amusement parks that can’t be match, and part of it is that it's more than amusement Park, but a resort for the whole family with something for everyone. Whether you are six or sixty, there is nothing that won’t interest you.
If you want to get inside the mind of Disney, two rides are a must. One is the Imagination ride in Epcot featuring the dragon, Figment, who delves into the world of imagination and how the human mind discovers the world around us. For Disney, progress begins with the imagination and the imagination is fed by free minds working on ideas, free to pursue those dreams. The human mind is the ultimate resource of any society, Just look at the world and you will see highly populated countries with minimal resources, but enough economic freedom to allow economic prosperity because the human mind is liberated. The Soviet Empire was blessed with resources, but collapsed since they denied the individual mind to roam free. Instead, the mind was captured by a gray murderous bureaucratic state that did what it could to destroy the individual. Our own wealth is not due to our resources but our freedom, a freedom that allows the human mind to roam.
Modern day America is slowly strangling itself by an ever increasing administrative state that discourages innovation and encourages mediocrity and sameness. The gradual loss of our economic freedom has led to an economy that is being squeezed into a snakelike vice. We see an economic philosophy where the government directs economic growth and essentially splitting an ever decreasing pie among various groups. The Human mind is the essential of a growing economy and a society that discourages the mind from dreaming and then turning those dreams into reality is a society that will collapse.
The Carousel of Progress showed Walt Disney's own love of progress and better tomorrow. This particular ride was introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair and with modification of the last portion of the ride, is still the same ride with the same music. You are treated to four snap shots of the history of man’s progress starting from the turn of the century as seen from his own kitchen. The father tells in each section how life has improved from the time before just by talking about the various appliances throughout the home and he muses on the past while wondering about the future. The ride travels through the 1920’s before moving to the post-World War II era, in which television replaces radio as the main means of communication, and with each snap shot, how our daily life is made better. The refrigerator allows us to keep milk and food cool and not spoil. This is something we take for granted, but someone who lived in the 1920’s would consider this a blessing. The last frame of the four sections is the present and glimpse into the future as we see the imagination of the human mind take hold into practical discovery that makes our life better. From being able to wash and clean clothes or the house in a matter of hours versus taking days to do the entire daily chore freed many women from being tied to the house and were able to become part of the work force. Progress buttress by human ingenuity means prosperity.
Over the past decade, we have seen the decline in the belief of human ingenuity and the rise of the Administrative state that does little to enhance the imagination. The figment of our imagination is slain on a daily basis by unnamed bureaucrats; and the lesson that needs to be relearned is how the human mind is the ultimate resource of any free society. A couple of decades ago, I gave a talk to a group of high school students and asked two questions. My first question was how many of them bought something the day before. Almost every one raised their hand. Then I stated, “Yesterday you were part of 200 plus million exchanges that occurred in the United States, and how many of you believe that a small group out of Washington, DC can manage an economy in which some 300 million people are engaging in hundreds of millions exchanges?” Not one raised their hand. A group of high school students two decades ago understood that any administrative state that attempted to control an economy with millions of exchanges occurring every minute is impossible.
Disney World reminded me of the imagination that made America great, and as you travel Spaceship Earth in Epcot, there is one brief display of a young man in a garage making it possible for us to have the power of a mainframe in our home. The inventor was Steven Jobs and the company he left behind is Apple; something to think about as you make your next call from the Apple iPhone. Jobs demonstrates Disney's faith in progress and the future, the triumph of the human spirit and the human mind. A figment of one imagination can go a long way in truly winning the future.