Welcome back to Disney Stuff. The Christmas tree is gone, the monorail underneath it is packed away for another year, and we’re moving forward into 2012. I hope everyone has recovered from the holiday season and had a great time celebrating the New Year. For the first Disney Stuff article of this year I wanted to talk about something important, something meaningful. Granted, all of my bits and pieces of Disney memorabilia mean something, each in their own way. But there are some things that stand out, cut right to the heart, and prove just how much these magical little Disney items come to mean to us.
If you’ve been reading this column for a while now, and thank you so much if you have, you might remember my fondness for Mickey Mouse watches. Way back in October of 2009, I wrote a Disney Stuff article about my Mickey watches. Since that time, there have been several additions to the collection. Some are from Walt Disney World, one or two from the Disney Store, and a couple from the far reaches of the internet. I love them all and those who know me well know that a Mickey watch can be found on my wrist just about everyday. However, the last two years have been a little different—when it comes to what’s been on my wrist.
You see, two years ago my wife and I went through a bit of a struggle. Anyone involved in a meaningful relationship will be sure to tell you, it happens; and you do your best to get through the tough times and move on. As Walt Disney himself said so succinctly;
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me…You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
I’m overjoyed to say that two years later, Diane and I took that kick in the teeth and in a sense it was the best thing in the world for us and we’re happier than ever. I have to give major kudos to my wife. She’s nowhere near the obsessive Disney fan that I am, but she’s the one that pulled that Walt quote out and read it to me on an amazingly romantic night in the Magic Kingdom rose garden right before Tinker Bell flew over our heads and Wishes exploded in the sky.
So, how does this tie into my wrist and my Mickey watches? Fair enough question—and there are two answers. The first occurred the summer after our grown-ups only trip to Walt Disney World. We took the kids back and spent a few days at the Polynesian: our first stay at this classic Disney resort. It was a wonderful trip. We all fell in love with the Poly and it’s now become the family favorite. One afternoon as we were walking through the Great Ceremonial House on the way to the parks, I had to rush back to the room for something or another. I left the clan at Bou-tiki, that great shop on the first floor. When I caught up with the family at the monorail station, my wife was clutching a small Disney shopping bag; certainly not an unusual sight.
Sitting on the monorail as we cruised around the lagoon, she surprised me with this great new Mickey watch. It’s extremely subtle. The face is orange. It has the Disney name and a small “hidden Mickey” at the 12 o’clock position. It’s a lenticular face, so when you tilt the watch another 2-dozen small “hidden Mickeys” appear. It’s very cool and has become a new favorite.
Was there a reason for this gift? She said that I seemed a bit frazzled and when she saw the Mickey watch in the shop, she knew I would like it and it would make me happy. She was certainly right.
The second watch is my newest Mickey Mouse watch. This past summer we returned to the Polynesian. This time we spent a solid week, further entrenching the resort into our lives. This was the trip that we really slowed down and relaxed. We spent a lot of time absorbing the atmosphere at the Poly and as it’s many fans will attest, it really is the most magical of all the Disney resorts.
When the trip was over, I was, as usual, quite sad to call it over. I’ll never forget the night we returned home, though. As we got the kids off to sleep and began to settle back into life at home, she surprised me again with another one of those ubiquitous Disney shopping bags. This time, when I opened the bag, a wonderful vintage looking Mickey tin appeared before my eyes. I thought the tin was so cool I actually thought that the tin was the gift , honestly that would have made me happy enough.
Inside the tin there was a fantastic Mickey watch. It’s got a soft, high quality, braided leather band. The watch itself is solid and has a great weight to it. The metal is brushed and the face has a very cool, vintage, “Pop Art” Mickey as the center of attention. Without a doubt, it’s the nicest watch in my Disney collection.
The reason for the watch? She said, and I quote, “I knew you’d be bummed out when we got home, so I wanted the watch to keep the magic going for you.” That’s the woman I love, folks.
I have a lot of Disney things and I have a great bunch of Disney watches. But without question, these two watches mean the most to me. First of all, as my dear departed friend Robert would say, “A watch…is something special.” And he’s right. There’s nothing like a fine timepiece on your wrist and it’s even better if they’re meaningful. I have one of Robert’s Mickey Mouse watches. I have my grandfather’s 18-karat retirement Wittnauer watch. I have the Jack Skellington watch that my daughter gave me for Father’s Day that has “Happy Father’s Day” engraved on the face. Those all mean the world to me.
But, considering all that my wife and I have gone through together, good and bad, these are the watches that I wear everyday. I alternate. One day the orange face, the next day the vintage Mickey watch comes out of the tin. Each day when I put them on, I think back to those moments; the monorail ride around the Seven Seas Lagoon thrilled by my new gift and clutching onto the woman that gave it to me, the exhausted night back at the house, surrounded by suitcases and Disney bags full of memories.
These are the moments that count in life. These are the memory building moments that make the kicks in the teeth worthwhile. I think about Walt’s quote every time I put these watches on, and whenever I check the time I think about the person that gave them to me and that little touch of Disney magic that helped us through some tough times.
Thanks for the inspirational quote Walt, and Diane…thanks for the watches and…thanks for…well…everything else.
Happy New Year, thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time with more of that great Disney Stuff.
(Send an email to Chris Barry)
Chris Barry lives on Long Island in New York with his wife and three kids. He has had a lifelong love of cartoons, comics and animation. Those who know him well say he has truly, "earned his Disney PhD." Chris has been involved with Television Production for 20 years and began his career working with The Muppets at Jim Henson Productions in NYC. Currently teaching TV Production to high school students, Chris has been writing about many different facets of The Walt Disney Company for several years now.