Sharing the Magic Statue by Blaine Gibson
Without the work of Roy Disney, the most magical place on earth would not exist. After Walt Disney’s death, his brother Roy oversaw construction of the Florida Project to see his brother’s vision come to fruition. Although Roy was not incredibly creative, his business prowess and persistence ensured that Walt Disney World was completed to make his brother’s life’s work a reality. Sharing the Magic is a dedication to Roy’s sacrifice and dedication to his brother and the Disney Corporation that the two build from the ground-up.
Backstory and Context
In 1923, Roy Disney and his brother Walt Disney founded Alice Comedies in Los Angeles which was later rebranded to its more popular name, the Walt Disney Company (The Walt Disney Studios). The Disney’s were cartoon animators who produced some of the most iconic characters known to date. Although Walt was the more creative of the two brothers, Roy was the business savvy entrepreneur who funded and guided the company to its success (Backstage Brain Roy Disney Dies). Where Walt was a celebrity who loved being in the limelight, Roy was timid and reserved. He enjoyed working with his brother in the background and away from the center of attention. Their partnership allowed for Walt to pursue his creative nature and Roy found a way to finance and market their company.
After opening Disneyland in Anaheim, Walt’s next big project was to create an additional theme park on the east coast. He began secretly purchasing vast swaths of land in Florida in what would be referred to as “The Florida Project.” The project was publicly announced in October of 1965. Unfortunately, Walt passed away in December of 1966 from lung cancer and could not see the project through (Backstage Brain Roy Disney Dies).
Roy had initially planned to retire, but delayed those plans a week after his brother’s death to oversee the Florida Project (Hendrickson). Roy felt an obligation to see his brother’s work come to life, stating “when I meet Walt again, if I hadn’t even tried to build that thing, I would really catch hell” (Hendrickson). Roy oversaw the construction of Magic Kingdom and worked painstakingly to see his brother’s vision come to fruition. He made sure the Florida Project was a tribute to his brother, leading to the name of the park being Walt Disney World.
On October 25, 1971, Roy spoke at the dedication for Magic Kingdom. For someone who was incredibly shy and timid, this was seen as a remarkable act by those who knew him. Roy’s speech was short, but reflective of the vision that Walt had for the Florida project in that the park would be a place where dreams come true. Roy decided that he would deliver the speech only with Mickey Mouse standing on stage with him. To Roy, Mickey was Walt’s vision and the closest representation to his brother. He remarked that Mickey had to be there because he was “the nearest thing to Walt that we have left” (Hendrickson). To this day, Mickey Mouse is present at every Disney dedication so that Walt can be present. Roy lived just long enough to see Walt’s vision come true. He passed away around 3 months later from a brain hemorrhage (Backstage Brain Roy Disney Dies).
The “Sharing the Magic” statue was constructed by the park’s head sculptor, Blaine Gibson (Duncan). It pictures Roy sitting next to Minnie Mouse on a bench. The physical location of the statue, at the front of the park, is juxtaposed to the “Partners” statue—which is further up Main Street and shows Walt and Mickey. “Sharing the Magic” is symbolic in that it is not intended to be the center of attention, compared to immediately in front of Cinderella’s castle, as a way of showing the difference role that Roy and Minnie play to their counterparts. The statue also has Roy’s hand lifting up the hand of Minnie, symbolizing his support for Walt and how he financially backed his brother so his creativity would not be limited.
"Backstage Brain Roy Disney Dies." The Evening Independent 21 December 1971: 9.
Duncan, Gene. Sharing the Magic at Walt Disney World. 21 March 2011. 12 December 2017. <https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2011/03/sharing-the-magic-at-walt-disney-world/>.
Hendrickson, Jennifer. Gentle Visionary: Walt's Disney World. 22 October 2016. 12 December 2017. <http://waltdisney.org/blog/gentle-visionary-walts-disney-world>.
The Walt Disney Studios. The Walt Disney Studios History. n.d. 12 December 2017. <http://studioservices.go.com/disneystudios/history.html>.