Disney Dragon Week: Maleficent Disneyland Paris

Disney Dragon Week: Maleficent Disneyland Paris

Finding the Courage to Face Your Dragons

No Disney story is better than one that involves facing a dragon. We see this represented all the time in Disney films–and even in their parks. Maleficent II will soon be coming to theaters across the globe. In commemoration, we are going across the globe to take a look at Disney dragons in theme parks far and wide. It’s Disney Dragon Week!

The podcasts which can be can be found here on Podbean and here at iTunes.

We begin in Europe, home of legendary medieval dragons, and of course, one of Disney’s most famous serpents, from the story of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Let’s go to Disneyland Paris!

Maleficent Dragon

You may recognize this steam punk phenomena:

Steam Punk Maleficent appears at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Paris. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The same dragon actually appeared first in Disneyland Paris. It stretches 35 feet in length and reaches 26 feet above the parade route. It was designed in partnership with Tony Award-winner Michael Curry, whose previous collaborations with Disney Parks have included the Tapestry of Nations procession at Epcot and Finding Nemo–The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

But the longest known version of a dragon at Disneyland Paris is found deep within Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty Castle. One of the very cool things about this palace is you can roam all over it, and discover the story of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.there you find nine large Aubusson tapestries that decorate the interior with depictions from the story. That includes an image of Prince Phillip engaging the dragon directly. 

One of the Aubusson tapestries. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

But the real treat comes when you journey down below to La Tanière du Dragon. This features the park’s largest audio-animatronic dragon. Much of the time it sleeps silently. but when it wakes up, roars and smoke follows.

La Tanière du Dragon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Courage to Fight For What You Love

At the heart of the original Disney Sleeping Beautystory is a prince who fights a dragon for the thing he loves most–in this case his true love, Briar Rose. He finds the courage to face the dragon, and ultimately saves the entire kingdom. In finding courage he is joined by three good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. They are small and not as mighty in power as Maleficent, but they too find the courage to fight for that which they truly love.

A younger Prince Phillip looks upon the three fairies. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

One of the most critical leadership traits to moving an organization forward is courage. Courage comes from the French word “couer”which means to have heart. The heart is a common symbol for inner strength. So, courage means to have the heart, or inner strength, and/or the will to do something. We draw courage from what we believe in, what we value, what we love. The level of courage we bring to a situation will be in relation to how strongly we believe in something. Courage, therefore, is defined as: 

“Choosing to act in the face of fear for something you really love”

We apply courage best when we directly face our concerns and fears. Fear seems like a strong word. We usually associate it with something life and death-like. Something like a dragon. In the real world, the definition of fear is “a distressing emotion around an impending concern, apprehension, or dismay.” Most fears relate to uncertainties or doubts that we may have.

What are some of the typical challenges or fears people face when they try to implement these kinds of ideas?

  • Fear of being rejected
  • Fear of not being successful
  • Fear of things going wrong
  • Fear of losing those we love 

What are the challenges and fears people face when they are in the workplace?

  • Fear that no one else will get on-board or take ownership.
  • Fear that budget cuts will prevent us from doing anything meaningful.
  • Fear that those at the top just don’t get it.
  • Fear of losing one’s job

Call these concerns or call them fears, but at the end of the day, you must have the will to surmount them. How do you get that will? By focusing on what you value more than focusing on what you fear. What is really needed to bring about change is in choosing to act on what we value more than on what we fear. 

Between A Rock And A Mickey

In Disney, Leadership and Youwe share a story first given in the Season Pass Podcast. It’s a story of Skip Lange, a master Disney Imagineer who is responsible for many of the mighty mountains you find around the Disney theme park landscape. Among many projects, Skip was responsible for being a field art director which focused on the rock work for the ambitious Disneyland Paris project.

This included Skull Rock in Adventureland, alien rock croppings in Tomorrowland, and the grandest of all, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is distinct in this park, as it sits on an island in the middle of the Rivers of the Far West. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

On one occasion, Skip felt very beat up by Mickey Steinberg in a meeting. Understand that while he shared the same first name, Mickey Steinberg was no Mickey Mouse. Mickey was described by Marty Sklar as “a big, bluff man with passionate enthusiasm and a quick temper.” Mickey, as the number 2 guy at Imagineering, was in Paris to make sure the project was on time. Skip left this particular meeting hurt by the conversation. He felt he had been treated unfairly. But then he took courage. Skip returned to converse privately with Mickey. Courageously Skip noted that it wasn’t fair that he was being blamed for things that were not under his control.

Mickey called everyone back into the meeting and announced that Skip Lange would be completely in charge of all rockwork. He instructed everyone that Skip would decide how the rockwork was to be planned, managed, and executed. Then turning to Skip, he said, “Now Mr. Lange, you know what this means. I will not be coming to any of them about rockwork anymore, I will be coming to you. Do you understand?” With that, Skip took over rock work and made it happen. That was how Mickey rolled;he empowered you, gave you the support, but then expected results.

And the results…well they were pretty amazing. Skip would go on to other projects such as Mysterious Island and the climactic scene of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Hong Kong.

Souvenirs for You

Consider the following:

  • What do you fear most?
  • What would you do differently if you could get past your fear?
  • What do you love more than what you fear?
  • How will you find courage to face your fears?

Walt Disney stated, “All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.”

Our job this week is to visit Disney parks around the world and find courage to face the dragons we experience.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcasts so you can be notified when a new podcast arrives!

J. Jeff Kober

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