When Walt Disney materialized at the back of my elementary school cafeteria in 1957 he was already a very famous man. He was visiting the brand new elementary school in Anaheim that had been named in his honor, and escorting every one of us kids and our teachers to his “Happiest Place on Earth” for a day of free festivities.

I never gave a thought to his motives or purpose for that visit. Instead, I was swept into a heavenly place of imagination and fantasy, caught up in the moment of youthful bliss at the thought of cruising down the Amazon River in a jungle boat, addressing Davy Crockett himself in a wilderness fort, or flying over London in my very own pirate ship.

More than 50 years later I wonder what Walt was thinking on that day. I remember a man larger than life, with a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon he so cherished. He was gentle and confident. By then he was aware that Disneyland, his daring and wondrous park that virtually every critic predicted would fail, was a surprising success.
But it was no surprise to Walt.
He already had a school dedicated to him in Missouri, the place where he spent time as a youth. He already had won his first of 47 Academy Awards. He had dreamed a huge dream and dared to chase it. And now, on this day, it was yet another chance for him to share his vision. With the children.

Walt knew the power of media exposure. After all, it was his ground-breaking television show that allowed him to spread the word about his work, and about the creation of Disneyland. But this day was different, I believe. This day was his chance to give back to the people, some of the joy he had received through his amazing world of fun and fantasy.

He signed and autograph for me that day, and took the time to shake my hand and gaze into my eyes. He spoke to me, though the words are long forgotten. But the gift of that day lives on in me and the students and teachers who rode the busses with Walt to HIS marvelous and magical park.
Walt often spoke about his “greatest dream”, the founding and funding of California Institute of the Arts, a college that promised to inspire and nurture imagination in future generations through creative and performing arts. He said “Think beyond your lifetime if you want to accomplish something truly worthwhile.” He did that with Cal Arts.

And he did that on a very special day in 1957. His generous gift on that occasion has been carried by me and many others for over half a century.
When Walt Disney was asked how he was able to accomplish so much in his lifetime he once said:

“I dream. I test my dreams against my beliefs. I dare to take risks.I execute my vision to make my dreams come true”.

Simple really. Those who are fortunate enough to watch their dreams blossom into gratifying,soul-fulfilling life experiences tend to follow that course of action. And the results, though not always precisely what we anticipated, are often exactly what we need in our lives at that moment in order to take the next step forward. And more importantly, those results will always be in line with our
ultimate goal that lives somewhere in our future.

The reason for that relates to the second step in Walt’s simple formula. Integrity.

In my personal experience, it was step #2 that was the easiest to miss. And without implementing that all-important element into my dreams, the result could never be a clear and honest path toward my goal.

As a magician for several decades now, I have been tempted to follow leads for a variety of opportunities that have come along. But as I pause and look at my goals and aspirations for my work as a whole, those diversions have not always supported the greater dream, further down the road.

So when Walt spoke of “testing his dream against his beliefs” I surmise that he was on to something very important. A key of sorts, that separates the “Dream Believers” from the “Dream Achievers”.

He believed in his dreams completely, and the result is the Disney magic we see in the world all around us. But more importantly, he realized that every element of his vision had to fit like a perfect puzzle piece, with the integrity and beliefs that identified how he thought, how he felt and who he was.

Dreams are a remarkable evolutionary force that have served to shape and change our world for as long as we’ve been here. And dreams that follow our true beliefs with integrity and honesty are the magic that connects the human spirit and the creative process with the power of purpose.

Author's Bio: 

An original graduate of Walt Disney elementary school in Anaheim California and a two-time cast member at Disneyland,Khevin Barnes is an Emmy-award-winning television writer and actor and has worked as a professional magician for more than 30 years. He travels and presents "The Disney Lecture", a fascinating look into the life and legend of one of the world’s most celebrated
creative visionaries, featuring the unique history,stories, inspiration and life-lessons of this American hero.