Imagineering the future

There’s a reason they call it the Magic Kingdom. Thanks to a great staff that keeps things going here, we got to go to Disneyland with our son and daughter-in-law, grandkids and their cousins over their spring break. We hadn’t been there since we took a troop of 7th-grade Girl Scouts  in the ’90s. We suspect Disneyland was the spring break destination of many of our Kazoodles friends this year, too. It really is a place where you can enter the magic and have a ton of fun.

Catching that first glimpse of Disneyland’s Main Street, you feel the magic begin. Everything is done to perfection. We’ve heard the story of Walt Disney, back in 1955, taking the tour before Disneyland opened. He dropped to his knees and asked his entourage of architects and builders do the same. He wanted everyone to see it from a child’s perspective.

I couldn’t help wondering, as we Yo-hoed through Pirates of the Caribbean and screamed through Space Mountain, what childhood was like for the Imagineers who took Disney’s dream and made it happen. What did they play with? What kind of freedom were they given to develop their own fun? Did they spend their summer days playing pirate or detective or princess or astronaut with the neighbor kids, learning to problem-solve,

Spring break at Disneyland with our grandkids (the tall ones) and their cousins (the short ones).

Spring break at Disneyland with our grandkids (the tall ones) and their cousins (the short ones).

create and imagine as they played? Did they build forts and play with Lincoln Logs and learn strategy by playing board games? Did they read books so the pictures formed in their mind’s eye?

I recall seeing “Sleeping Beauty” just after my 6th birthday. I was off to princess land in my imagination for months afterward. Many, many more Disney movies have been made since then. And millions of Disney toys have found their way into the toyboxes of America’s children. They are part of the American cultural experience.

So why don’t we carry Disney toys at Kazoodles? It goes back to those Imagineers. We believe deeply that kids need the freedom to create their own play. Rather than dressing her as Belle or Jasmine, let her put together her own costume (like the young customer in a princess cape, robot hat and rubber boots) and her own persona. Let him create his own storyline, whether with cars or cowboys, pirates or lions.

Disney has a beloved place in our culture, and we all can enjoy the works of the Disney Imagineers. Our hope at Kazoodles is that the Imagineers of the future will have a great start with play that doesn’t dictate a storyline to reenact, but lets kids develop their creativity, problem-solving, and ability to invent something totally new.


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