Disney's Timekeeper: The Possible and Probable in Our Performance Journeys
Recently I had an epiphany about my podcasts and what I wanted to offer. I provide plenty on all matters regarding the magic and fun of Disney. They are at the heart of Disney at Play. I also offer unique podcasts that focus on best-in-business ideas from Disney that can be applied back to your organization. It’s called Disney at Work. But I felt I wanted to provide those who listen to this podcast something even more unique. Something more inspiring that can be a catalyst for becoming the best we can be. To that end, I’m introducing new set of podcasts on this channel around what I refer to as Performance Journeys. It is taken from a former Magic Kingdom attraction known as The Timekeeper. And it’s that attraction that serves as the message for today’s podcast as well. Join us on this Performance Journey.
What is Performance Journeys?
By way of introduction, Performance Journeys is the name of one of my companies. I have two, one that is a partnership with a former Disney Institute leader where we benchmark not just Disney but other organizations and their best practices. Organizations far and wide in the public, private and non-profit arenas.
Performance Journeys is my own organization, that has largely focused on solutions that I’ve provided for nearly twenty of my nearly 40 years in the business of training and development. But Performance Journeys is more than an organizational title. It’s a marriage of two ideas. And along with our timepiece/compass ensign, I hope to express two critical ideas that I believe are essential to success in life.
We build on the idea that achievement is important. We should set goals in our life. We should identify opportunities, work on our weaknesses and develop strengths. The journey should include accomplishment. And that is represented by the first word, performance.
The symbol for this is the clock. We have to recognize time. We have to acknowledge limited resources. It’s about making do with whatever we have before us. It’s about doing your very best whatever that looks like. That is at the heart of performance.
The second word is Journey or Journeys. The word Journey suggests the approach we take toward making performance meaningful. Our strength does not lie in just getting results but doing it by effectively working with others to accomplish something that matters. Life has meaning in the work we accomplish. Life has purpose and we should seek to find that purpose.
It’s not just having a life of accomplishment, but rather a life well-lived. That’s reflected in the compass of my organization’s logo. Staying true North to what you believe in is a powerful notion. After all, what good is it to arrive in some place after exerted effort, only to realize that you ended up in the wrong place.
So it’s as much about the journey, as it is about performance. It’s also why I quote the Alan Menken song from Sinbad’s Storybook Journey at Tokyo DisneySea when I end the podcast. Always follow the compass of your heart. That’s the journey we are seeking.
To that end, we want to offer posts and podcasts that foster the spirit of Performance Journeys. Its’ inspiration comes from the Timekeeper, and from a symbol of the show that was part of the original queue before it was later changed to Monster’s Laugh Floor. One such example about this idea of performance and journey comes from the show itself.
The Timekeeper was an attraction found in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. It is comparable to its original European counterpart Le Visionarium which was found in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris. Two animatronic characters, The Timekeeper, voiced by Robin Williams, and 9-Eye, voiced by Rhea Perlman of Cheers, were the hosts of this show. But the film was really centered around a journey Jules Verne makes into the future, in which he learns the importance of both the probable and the possible.
In the film we see Jules Verne at a conference in Paris where he is introduced for the first time to H.G. Wells. You’ll recall that a key literary contribution Jules Verne had become known for was his work on a 1865 tale of a trip to the moon (not to mention 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). He suggested with some sense of probability of a bullet-like ship being shot out of a cannon to the moon. Here the Baltimore Gun Club, a post-American Civil War society of weapons enthusiasts, prepare an enormous cannon entitled the Columbiad, intended to shoot three men into space.
Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris actually looks like that. It is a big steam punk-style canon entitled the Colombiad.
Conincidentally, the Columbia itself is the name also of the first American vessel that successfully made circumnavigate its way completely around the world. It’s celebrated at Disneyland, and is another example of accomplishing what might seemingly be impossible.
You may also remember Jules Verne in one of the opening scenes in Horizons at Epcot , where they showcase him floating in a red leather cushioned rocket on his way to the moon, along with a dog and chicken. The heart of that show was the idea that if you could dream it, you could do it.
There are no Disney attractions previous to this involving H. G. Wells. H. G. Wells wrote another popular novel called The Time Machine. This is a science fiction novel suggesting the concept of time travel. Many films have been inspired since from this early 1895 work.
At any rate, the two are introduced at the conference and H. G. Wells shows Jules Verne a model of what a time machine might look like, to which Verne balks.
Jules Verne: “I spent my whole life writing about the possible. And you prefer the impossible.”
H. G. Wells: “Impossible? No sir. This may be improbable, but it is not impossible.”
Jules Verne: “Have you traveled through time?”
H. G. Wells: “I sir, have traveled through time as many times as you have between the earth and the moon.”
The film then proceeds to have Timekeeper and 9-Eye take Verne on a journey through the future, which lands him on the front of a bullet train, in the depths of the ocean, riding on a helicopter and even eventually flying into the future that is beyond our moment in time. It is here he is re-united with H. G. Wells who also has been transported into the future. Astonished, Wells notes:
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing. This is impossible.”
Nine Eye: “Wait…how did you guys get there?”
Jules Verne “In the future, anything’s possible!”
You can see a remastered version of this, along with the show’s symbol which was an inspiration for the creation of the icon for Performance Journeys.
That sentiment comes from Walt Disney himself, who mused that “it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” One of the reasons why we have come to love Disney is because this message of what is possible–even probable continues to show up in so many of its films, shows and attractions. Take for example the broadway version of Mary Poppins. That show wrote a new finale number, Anything Can Happen. Consider the lyrics:
Anything can happen if you let it
Sometimes things are difficult but you can bet it
Doesn’t have to be so
Changes can be made
You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade.
Anything can happen if you let it
You won’t know a challenge until you’ve met it
Noone does it for you
Noone but yourself
Vascillating violets get left up on the shelf
Anything can happen it’s official
You can choose the super or the superficial
Sally forth the way we’re steering
Obstacles start disappearing
Go and chase your dreams you won’t regret it
Anything can happen
Anything can happen
Anything can happen
If you let it.
Moving Forward on Our Performance Journey
So in short, we will continue providing the latest and greatest in Disney news and events.
We’ll also focus on articles around best-in-business practices at Disney.
But we also want to offer ideas that inspire and motivate you whether at work or in your own personal life. We want to support the performance journeys of all who come to this happy place. I hope in the years to come we can not only celebrate all things Disney, learn best-in-business ideas from from all things Disney, but be exhilarated by all things Disney.
Learn. Enjoy. Inspire. That’s where we’re going next. It’s not only possible, but it’s probable. I hope you will join us.
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