In this, their third in a trilogy of books about the early decades of Walt Disney World, R.J. and Suzanne Ogren give readers delightful descriptions of Walt’s final dream, how it came to be, and details of just what it was like “back then.”
While doing so, they weave their own stories, both funny and touching, about their unique experiences working for the Mouse, the creative lessons learned from Disney notables, and how they realized their dream careers.
The title of this book is taken from a quote by Walt Disney. Suzanne and R.J. begin each chapter with a quote by this one-of-a-kind man, who was such a creative influence to both of them, from childhood to the present. These word pictures create the theme of the book, and are a way for the writers to introduce Walt to a new generation of readers.
As you travel from Main Street, through each land of the Magic Kingdom, to EPCOT Center, the hotels—both onstage and backstage—you are transported to the fantasy world by a couple whose descriptions and experiences, from the 1970s to the mid-1990s, take you on a special journey of love, laughter, and magic.
With a foreword by Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 Gold Medal-winning Olympic Hockey Team.
Chapter 1: Walt’s Final Dream
Chapter 2: The Dream Being Realized
Chapter 3: Main Street Then
Chapter 4: I Hate You
Chapter 5: Through the Castle to the Lands
Chapter 6: Fantasyland Then
Chapter 7: That’s Just Wrong
Chapter 8: It’s Too Hot!
Chapter 9: I’m Gonna Get That Wabbit!
Chapter 10: A Rowboat in 20K
Chapter 11: Liberty Square Then
Chapter 12: Caught in a Web of “De-Feet”
Chapter 13: Tomorrowland Then
Chapter 14: Adventureland Then
Chapter 15: Turn Tail
Chapter 16: I Had to Have Him Put Down
Chapter 17: Frontierland Then
Chapter 18: Marc
Chapter 19: Magic Underground
Chapter 20: Purchase, Perks and Parades
Chapter 21: Missing in Space
Chapter 22: An Empress on the Water
Chapter 23: Conceptual Revolution
Chapter 24: EPCOT Beginnings
Chapter 25: The Grand Floridian Rises
Chapter 26: When It Was Disney-MGM Studios
Chapter 27: Disney Legends
Chapter 28: Just Pick Something—Anything
Chapter 29: I Hate It When You Drive!
Chapter 30: What About Bob?
Chapter 31: A Decade Later—What a Difference
Chapter 32: We Just Remembered...!
Chapter 33: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E
I was pleased to be asked by my dear friends, R.J. and Suzy, to write this foreword for their tribute to Walt Disney, and how he has affected their entire lives.
I first met R.J. and Suzanne the same year—1980—that I was captain of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team that won the Gold Medal in Lake Placid. I travelled to Orlando in December of that year because R.J. had contacted me and asked me to be the Grand Marshal of the Tangerine Bowl Parade, and to appear in the halftime show as well. He was Director of both events. They even mentioned these events in their first book, Together in the Dream.
The next year, I returned to Orlando to co-host the live telecast of the Parade with the Disney Ambassador. R.J. was the director, and Suzanne, the script writer. In addition to my official duties those first two years, the three of us were able to get to know each other as we visited the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, enjoyed meals together, and I was even invited to their home. It was then that I began to be impressed with R.J.’s artistic talents, and Suzanne’s in Entertainment. It became obvious that Walt Disney had influenced their creative lives in many ways.
Our friendship grew after I got married, began having children, and visited WDW on several occasions, especially when I took part in the Goofy Games for a number of years in a row. Our families spent time together, and, though we are all busy people who don’t see each other in person on a regular basis, our bond as friends has continued to be important to us all.
I know you will enjoy getting to learn, as I did, about the legacy Walt instilled in them, as you read this last of their WDW trilogy of remembering.
Walt Disney was not just a hero who influenced our lives; he was known throughout the world for his imagination and innovation. Because we were lucky enough to experience Walt’s magic as it occurred, we are often asked a variety of questions about his accomplishments and his life.
It isn’t our vision for this book to create a biography on him; good ones already exist. Instead, we hope to present his work and words in a way we hope will inspire and inform. To that end, you will see quotes by Walt himself at the start of each chapter.
As in our previous books, we share our words in first person throughout. If you see RJ or Suzanne printed at the beginning of a chapter, that person has written it alone. All other chapters were created together.
These two creative people both took entry level jobs at Walt Disney World, to enable them to pursue their real dream jobs working for the Disney company. R.J. had always wanted to be a Disney artist, and Suzanne had a dream of being a professional dancer and entertainer there. They both agree, that though these aspirations were always in their minds, their eventual rewards and experiences during their years at WDW changed their lives forever.
Today, they continue in creative pursuits. R.J. is an internationally known artist, and specializes in original Disney-themed paintings. He has also penned a book about his work on haunted houses throughout the U.S., The Design of Fear, which includes stories about his artistry in WDW’s Haunted Mansion. He also shares his funny and unique stories about confrontations with both real and imagined ghosts.
Suzanne began dancing at an early age. Her lifetime love of Disney movies, TV shows and music gave her the drive to pursue her dream of working for Walt and Mickey Mouse. In addition, she began writing short stories and essays while still young, and has been a professional writer since 1994. Her critically acclaimed first novel, Ribbons, is available through Theme Park Press.
This couple met in high school, in drama class, and married in 1965. Their artistic adventures have included many years of acting, directing, scenic design, and production in live theatre. They have co-written two previous books about the early decades of Walt Disney World, and their unique careers there: Together in the Dream and Remembering the Magic. In this, the third and last in their trilogy of Disney remembrances, they share new stories, and word pictures that describe many original WDW creations. The theme of this book is how Walt Disney has influenced them both, and how his genius and legacy can still inspire.
R.J. and Suzanne reside in suburban Chicago, near their daughter, Dawn and her husband, son, Sean and his wife, and their three grandsons.