DREAMERS DO: Walt Disney’s 10 Steps to Making Your Dreams Come True is a new book by Dr. Gene Ano and Genesis Ano, a father and daughter who love everything Disney, but more importantly, found Disneyland to be an invaluable resource to help them cope during times of crisis in their lives.
Early in the book, Dr. Gene tells how he regularly took his daughter to Disneyland when she was just a toddler to ensure she experienced happiness even when he was in a miserable state while going through a divorce. That first visit to Disneyland was magical in different ways for both of them, and it cemented their love for all things Disney. Since then, both have been students of Walt Disney, learning lessons from him based on the difficulties he overcame in his own life. This book is designed to teach readers how they can make their own dreams come true by following ten steps that Walt Disney used to become the icon we all know today.
What sets DREAMERS DO apart from all the other books out there about Disney is summed up in the book’s foreword by Jeff Barnes, otherwise known as “Dr. Disneyland” because he himself teaches and writes books about Disney. Barnes states: “Whereas other Disney books merely provide anecdotes, Dr. Ano provides antidotes-psychological ‘prescriptions’ from Walt Disney to help you overcome adversity and live the life of your dreams.”
And talk about adversity. The book opens with the statement: “Walt Disney saved my daughter’s life.” Later, Genesis explains this statement, saying:
“In a moment of hopelessness, I held a knife to my chest and prayed for God to take away all my pain. But at that moment, I heard a still, small voice within me say, ‘No. I have a purpose for you.’ I remembered how Walt Disney went through a lot of pain, but still accomplished great things, and it gave me a small glimmer of hope.”
Hope comes when we take action to make our dreams come true, despite all the odds and obstacles we face. DREAMERS DO is divided into ten chapters (steps) to show us how to make that happen. In fact, the title itself is an acronym for those ten steps. Some of the steps include Dream, Responsibility, Action, Mindset, Risk, and Overcome. Each chapter tells personal stories from Dr. Gene and Genesis’ lives, illustrating how they used the step to better their lives. Each chapter also includes inspiring stories from Walt Disney’s life, ranging from how he created Mickey Mouse to how he dealt with an abusive childhood, his wife’s miscarriages, and the naysayers who wrongly predicted Snow White would be a flop or Disneyland would be a disaster. Each time, Walt held to his vision and overcame all the obstacles. Inspiring quotes from Walt are sprinkled throughout the book, such as “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
One of the most inspiring stories for me about Walt Disney, although it has often been told, is how his business associate, Charles Mintz, stole Walt’s creation, Oswald the Rabbit, and then Walt’s animators. Walt overcame this setback by having a positive mindset. Dr. Gene writes: “By cultivating a positive mindset, Walt experienced healing from the past. Walt had been hurt by various people throughout his life, but he never became bitter or resentful. Instead, he let go of his pain by practicing forgiveness and compassion.” Dr. Gene goes on to describe how Walt came to forgive Mintz and even felt bad for him when he fell on hard times. As Walt said, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
How do we apply Walt’s example to our own lives? By believing in ourselves. Disney sculptor Blaine Gibson is quoted as saying, “Walt had the ability to inspire us by selling us on ourselves… He gave us the confidence to do things we never imagined were possible.” DREAMERS DO is filled with examples of how people, especially Dr. Gene and Genesis, were inspired to do things many people would believe impossible. Perhaps my favorite example was when Genesis landed a part in a local musical production of Aladdin. She had seen the show at Disneyland countless times, so when a local theatre company did a production, she wanted to try out for the play, but even her father was surprised when she announced she would never get the part she wanted because she was a girl and Aladdin was a boy’s role. However, eventually, Genesis came to the realization, “If Bruce Jenner could become Caitlyn Jenner in real life, why couldn’t I become Aladdin in a play? As Walt once said, ‘Who says that my dreams have to just stay my dreams?'” Needless to say, Genesis landed the role.
This book isn’t all about just overcoming obstacles, however. It’s also full of Disney magic. This father and daughter love Disney so much that they often travel to both US parks. In fact, one day they realized that because of the timing of their flight home to California from Florida, they could do something amazing-visit every Disney park in the United States on the same day by visiting the Florida ones in the morning, then flying home, and arriving in time to visit all the California ones before they closed. It was an ambitious and somewhat exhausting goal, but also a fun and exciting one.
DREAMERS DO is a book written after Walt Disney’s own heart. It’s amazing to think that nearly a century after Walt created Mickey Mouse, we are still celebrating him and his creations; the reason is he had an incredible vision and the courage to take the action required to make that vision a reality. Whatever you are faced with, whether it’s getting through school, finding a better job, losing a loved one, or creating an amusement park, DREAMERS DO will inspire you and serve as a practical how-to manual for achieving your own dreams. It’s also got to be one of the most fun and heartfelt self-help books ever written.