17 December, 2009


For my entire life, Roy E. Disney has been the public face of the Disney family. For a long time, I thought he was Walt's brother. I didn't realize he was the "new generation" of the family business. Though he wasn't always in the spotlight, I think a lot of us took stock in the fact that we knew he was there, looking over the family name and business.

I don't really know anything personal about Roy, and so any clumsy attempt to eulogize him would fall flat. But his death really touched me in a way that caught me off guard. Maybe it's because I worry who will lead the revolt against the next power-hungry CEO. Maybe it's because there's one less person in the world who believes in the perfection his uncle demanded. Or maybe it's just because he was my Disney, and now he's gone.

I don't often talk on here about my time in the trenches working in the theme parks, but I'll break my rule in this case. When we were training as the opening team at the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream attraction, one of the trainers relayed a quick anecdote.

Roy walked the attraction before it was finished, and stopped in front of the recreation of Walt's office. He laughed and pointed at the chairs and made a comment about how many times he had sat "right there" and gotten yelled at by his dad or Uncle Walt.

I guess he was a bit of a trouble maker when he was younger. The story stuck with me because I couldn't wrap my head around what it must be like to see a room from your past stuck behind glass in a museum. Now it makes me smile to think that he kept watch over the family business for another 40 years.

Rest in peace, Roy. We'll miss you.


mamajoy said...

Is there something happening on his left sleeve?

wickedmess said...

This may sound weird but I'm sorta happy to hear that you were affected by Roy's death. Frankly, I was surprised by how hard I took it. Like you, to me he was the face of Disney. Golf Guy and I talked about it this evening and he agrees, he associated Roy with Disney as much as "Uncle Walt".

I don't think you and I are the only ones wondering if he would be the last to lead the revolt against the money grubbing CEOs. And while I'm at it, were you as disappointed as I was at how little notice the media took of his passing? Tiger Woods' tramps du jour received more air time.

RIP, Roy.