My name is Gary, and I love Disney. Always have. Always will. Which is why my wife and I, upon retiring, moved from Maryland to Florida. Our first trip to the Magic Kingdom was in 1971, shortly after it opened, and we've been returning regularly ever since. Now, we are here to stay.
I won't try to explain my fascination with Disney. I'm not sure I can. People have often asked, and my reply is usually a smile, a shrug, a head shake... it isn't an easy question to answer.
"Is it the animation?" they might ask.
I nod. "Yes."
"What is your favorite animated movie?"
I begin counting on my fingers. "Snow White, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Bambi, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty... pretty much the whole list."
"Well, can you pick a favorite live-action Disney movie?"
"Nope. I like Mary Poppins, Those Calloways, Follow Me, Boys!, Darby O'Gill, Snowball Express, Greyfriars Bobby..."
"You know," they will say, trying to pin me down, "Picking a favorite means picking one thing, right?"
"How about a favorite theme park? Surely you can pick a favorite park. Disneyland? Walt Disney World?"
"Well, I guess my favorite would be The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, just because it was the first I ever visited. But Disneyland is great, too, because it was the first, and Walt walked there and..."
"Okay, okay... how about a favorite Disney attraction?"
I start again. "It's a Small World, Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain, Soarin', Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest, Nemo, Festival of the Lion King..."
Sigh. "Can't you pick just one? What do you like to do, best of all?"
I've thought about this a lot. I've walked the parks in Florida, California and France. I've ridden the attractions. I've photographed them. I've studied them. In 1964, after visiting the New York World's Fair, I made a model of It's A Small World. I love the attractions. But after moving here and being able to visit the parks and ride the attractions whenever I want, I finally realized...
My favorite thing to do? My favorite attraction?
Watching the guests.
I love watching the Disney guests. Couples having a day out together. Families enjoying an adventure with their kids. Seniors strolling. Visitors from all over the world, putting on silly hats and letting their inner child out. All different and all the same. The colors, the sounds, the movement, the crowds. It's part of what keeps bringing me back. I love watching the guests.
So, I started creating artwork showing what makes me smile when I visit Walt Disney World. Artwork about the daily parade of guests, the hustle and bustle, the quiet times, the surprises, and the shared experiences. Artwork about the first-timers and those, like me, who keep coming back for more.
Thanks for coming for a look. I hope you enjoy my work.