<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Home > Happy Earth Day - philosophical musings

Happy Earth Day - philosophical musings

April 22nd, 2008 at 09:55 am

Today is Earth Day. Today is also the 10th anniversary of the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom park in Florida. That means 10 years ago today, my wife and I were enjoying a wonderful day exploring the wonders of the new park as we were there for the grand opening. In fact, our first visit to the park actually happened a few days before they opened to the public when we attended the preview for annual passholders.

Does any of this have anything to do with finance? Kind of, in a philosophical sort of way. Something that we discovered very quickly upon entering Animal Kingdom (AK) was that it was different from other Disney parks. The focus wasn't on glitz and fantasy and manufactured experiences. The focus, instead, was on reveling in the wonders of nature. What did that mean? It meant that the best way to enjoy the park wasn't to get through the gate and rush to the most popular attraction to get at the front of the line. And then rush from there to the next attraction. The park WAS the attraction.

We spent 2 full days opening to closing exploring every path, every display, every shop, all the decor and carvings and artwork. It was a wonderful experience.

How does that apply to money and finance? I think the "stop and smell the roses" theory applies. Your financial goal might be paying for college or buying a house or retiring or all of those, but you still need to take time along the way to enjoy the journey. You can't work toward retirement with blinders on, never stopping to enjoy all that surrounds you.

I spoke to many, many people who were disappointed by Animal Kingdom. Their main complaints were that there wasn't enough to do, not enough rides and shows. They were bored after a couple of hours. In speaking with them, invariably they took the guide map and raced from attraction to attraction and did little else. When I told them about all the great stuff we saw and showed them the hundreds of pictures I had taken, they didn't recognize much of what I spoke of because they hadn't taken the time to do those things. They zipped right past them.

I think that's how many people live their lives. They focus on the big stuff and forget to take time to enjoy the details. Sure, retirement is important. Sure, that multi-thousand-dollar vacation was fun. But it is often the little things that make life worth living. I have a little sign on my desk at home that says, "Enjoy the little things because one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Animal Kingdom was a "little things" experience, admittedly located within a "big things" destination.

Far too many people to this day fail to appreciate that park in the way it was designed. As a result, Disney has been forced to add thrills to keep people coming. In fact, since adding the Expedition Everest roller coaster, AK has become the attendance leader among the four parks in Florida. I have to admit that we love that ride, but we are saddened by what the park has become and how the original message has been lost in the process.

We also have a poster hanging in our family room with quotes from Adair Lara's book, "Slowing down in a speeded up world" which also applies to this topic. She talks about making time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, things that don't cost a penny but really can make a difference in how you feel and your outlook. It is all lessons that more of us need to follow, myself included a lot of times.

Our daughter is 12. Every night at bedtime, for years, we have each taken a turn saying what was special that day, the point being that even in our mundane, repetitive schedules, there is always something that made that day unique and memorable. So pay more attention to that stuff and enjoy the journey of life.

8 Responses to “Happy Earth Day - philosophical musings”

  1. Broken Arrow Says:

    That's a very good line of thought, and you're right! Sometimes, people don't stop and appreciate every little thing. I know. I'm probably the guy who rushed past you just to get to the next ride. Big Grin So, yes, I do have to be conscientious about slowing down and enjoying the life in general more.

  2. nance Says:

    Oh, you have hit on a very important topic! We tend to rush through life, and then wonder where the time went, and don't slow down enough to create memories.
    I keep telling my husband that he needs to stop and smell the roses, but he has a hard time doing that, unless he finds time to go fishing. The simple things in life are often the best, and the most memorable.
    I was just enjoying life, by sitting on the porch swing, looking at the goats and llama in the pasture behind ours. It was so quiet and peaceful, until the phone rang!
    Great post!

  3. snoopycool Says:

    I agree whole-heartedly.

  4. reginaastralis Says:

    Great thoughts DisneySteve.

    I agree, I love Animal Kingdom. It's one of my favorite Disney parks. With a three year old in tow, I don't get to do a lot of the "thrill" rides and she's so heavily into animals that we can spend the day at AK just walking around and enjoying the scenery. In the same aspect, I've had wonderful times at MK, walking around with a sleeping toddler in tow ... sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses, or you miss all the little details in life.

    Before Julie, I was a go go go sort of person, now I have no choice but to take things slower ... it's amazing to me what's important to her.

  5. Petunia Says:

    Good thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.

  6. disneysteve Says:

    regina - That is so true. We discovered a variety of off-the-beaten-path areas in MK and the other parks when our daughter was an infant and needed to nap or just get away from all the sensory overload.

  7. Ima saver Says:

    Great post, steve! Where is animal Kingdom? I would love to go there someday!!

  8. disneysteve Says:

    Julie, Animal Kingdom is one of the 4 Disney theme parks at Walt Disney World in Florida. It opened in 1998 and has a variety of attractions geared toward discovering nature with real animals, not electronic simulations like in the other parks. They have a fantastic safari ride with a huge landscape made to look like Africa where you see elephants, lions, flamingos, crocodiles, antelope, giraffes, zebras, etc. all out in the open. No cages or bars or gates to obstruct your view. Sometimes animals even come right up to the vehicles (only the safe animals are able to do this).

    They have a couple of walking trails with animals, like gorillas. There is an aviary where you get a bird-spotting guide and can spend time trying to find as many of the species as you can. There is a whole area geared toward conservation where you can see the animal hospital and birthing center. AK has been instrumental over the past 10 years in increasing the population of some endangered animals.

    There are also some thrill rides like the Expedition Everest coaster, Dinosaur - a high speed simulator ride, a 3-D movie about bugs and some other stuff. Also, some fantastic shows including a Lion King show and Finding Nemo, both of which are Broadway caliber performances well worth the price of park admission just to see them.

    It's a fun place.

Leave a Reply

(Note: If you were logged in, we could automatically fill in these fields for you.)
Will not be published.

* Please spell out the number 4.  [ Why? ]

vB Code: You can use these tags: [b] [i] [u] [url] [email]