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Thursday Treasures

February 7, 2013

A visit with Roy E. Disney by Michael Mriscin

What is the ultimate Disney Experience some may ask? Some might say it's going to a Disney theme park, while others may say that going to D23 is the best. While I agree D23 sounds cool and I plan to go someday, I've done something that would make every Disney fan drool. It all started 10 years go'

I had some medical things going on in my life which wasn't anything new. I had a high functioning type of autism called Asperger Syndrome. I also had something called Crohn's disease which is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease which made life tough. I had been through many experiences that were not pleasant and stuff most 80 year olds don't even go through, and I was only 16. I had loved Disney ever since I was a little boy. My first Disney movie that I loved was The Rescuers Down Under. I knew what Disney movies were coming out two years in advance and that was without the internet. Anyway, my mom had always talked about The Make-a-Wish Foundation from time to time. One day she surprised me and said that my arthritis specialist signed off for me to receive a wish courtesy of Make-a-Wish. I thought of many ideas to do. My first idea was to meet the creator of Beanie Babies, Ty Warner. My second idea was to go see Bob Barker on The Price is Right. However I ultimately decided to pursue meeting Roy E. Disney. My parents were thankful it wasn't Ty Warner or else by now I would have 2000 Beanie Babies. So once I decided Roy Disney, they came to my house and rented us a huge van, gave us 5000 Dollars and instructions on what to do once we got there. So my family & I set off to California to have a wish come true.

In about a week we got to California and I stayed at Universal Sheraton for the remainder of our visit. The next day we were able go to Universal City Walk through a Shuttle and it was amazing. The fountains that got people wet, the stores, the movie theater, and the food were amazing, but expensive. When it came time to head over to Burbank, which was about 20 miles away, we rode in a limo and it took 20 minutes to enter The Disney lot. Once inside we went into this building where the Seven Dwarfs were on the top of the building. We went in to meet our guide who led us to an office building where there was some film reels. He showed us a room where they married the sound film and the picture reel of Brother Bear together. If it was not done in the right way, you would get the dialogue of Speed Racer.


After that, the guide took me and my family to a place that I don't think most Disney Fans would or will ever see. It was a place that is legendary and I will never forget. THE DISNEY VAULT!! My parents thought it was just a figure of speech and It didn't truly exist and I'm sure many people thought that too. However it does indeed exist. It looked like maybe a building full of storage lockers. There were film reels and I spotted one that said Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They said if a celebrity wanted to watch a movie in their home on a movie screen, they just sent a reel to them. It had a square window at the end of each vault with a poster covering the window. The reason they had a window is because some of the film reels had components of TNT and if there was an earthquake and a film reel fell, the blast would go out the small square window instead of inward.

After that was the main event of the trip. I was very excited when I was about to meet Roy. It felt like I was having one heck of a good dream. I kept wanting to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. When I met him, it felt like time stood still. My family and I went into his office and he was very kind. He told us that his office and desk was the same office that Walt had when he was alive. So you know that desk that Walt sat at in several Wonderful World of Color episodes? That was that very desk in that very room. He asked us how the trip was and we told him it was great. We talked to him for about 45 minutes. He told us how the rides to Disneyland use to be made right there in the lot, but now they are made in some factory which he said that he wished it could go back to that. He also said how Walt was an amazing storyteller. When Uncle Walt told him the story of Pinocchio, it was amazing. In fact Walt was such a good storyteller, that when Roy saw Pinocchio, it wasn't as good and was much more intriguing when Walt told him the story. He also said that his dad, Roy O. Disney, was the financial/ practical side of the company while Walt was the Dream and the Idea Guy. One time Walt and Roy were very frustrated with each other due to difference of opinions and were not in good terms at one point. However on an overseas trip, Walt saw something called a Peace Pipe and he bought it and gave it to his brother to say that they were brothers first, and businessmen second and they made up. We talked about other various things, like how I could tell how a disc on a DVD was a bootleg compared to the real one. I also said someday I wanted to work with Disney and they said I would be great in the piracy department. We talked about things for about an hour and suddenly it was time to go. He gave me an Art of Disney Animation book and signed it. He also gave my family free tickets to Disneyland. Originally were going to be eating in the canteen, but instead they sent us to the restaurant where we ate filet mignon.


After we ate, we went to the archives. Our guide brought out an Academy Award that was awarded to the Disney Silly Symphony The Old Mill and it was very heavy. After that we went to where the Disney Legend plaques were at with a statue of Walt in the middle. They also said they would mail me a copy of The Lion King later that year. After that our 5 hour tour came to an end. We said our goodbyes and thanked them for everything.

The next day we went to Disneyland and had a blast. One of the memorable things in Disneyland happened during a Sword in the Stone segment where they picked someone out of the audience to pull the sword half way out because Merlin didn't want anyone getting cut. Merlin invited me on stage and I pulled it half way out. My proclamation was that everything was free. Apparently Merlin said that I was only king for part of the day and looked at his wrist and said it's part of the day already. He gave me a medal that had The Happiest Place on earth logo on one side, and a Sword in the Stone design on the other. It was a real medal and it wasn't plastic. Going on Pirates of the Caribbean was fun. We also checked out Haunted Mansion and it was fun. At first I was scared and I'm quite embarrassed to say that part now. They stopped the ride to let me get in without the effects right away and that great and it was wise for them to be able to do that. We went on the It's a Small World ride which if you are at a Disney Theme Park, you have to go on. I would have liked to go on Star Tours but I didn't because 2 days before I was on the Back to the Future ride and I got sick and didn't want to overdo it with the flight simulator. The next day we packed up and headed back to Illinois. It was one of the most memorable trips I have ever been on and I don't think I can ever top it.

On December 16th 2009, I was using a computer at a hospital and learned of Roy's death. Make A Wish contacted me from California and a radio station wanted to interview me. It was actually on CBS Radio News that airs on several stations nationwide. They gave the Tiger Woods story 15 minutes and they then interviewed me for 5 minutes. They wanted to know how he was and what did I remember the most of meeting Roy. I told them how he remembered Walt as a great storyteller and when Pinocchio came out, Roy was more impressed with his uncle telling him the story and that we will miss Roy and I said I'm sure many others will also.

I've never really shared this many details about the trip before. I'm not sure why I haven't but I think now is the time to tell. This trip 10 years ago is something I will Treasure for the rest of my life.


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