Most Disney fans are familiar with the the way that Epcot opened ceremoniously on October 1, 1982. In the early days, there wasn’t a Disney character in sight! Can you imagine? But then, from 1982 – 1987, the one and only Ron Schneider, Epcot’s original Dreamfinder, helped to change all of that. To this day, Dreamfinder is one of the world’s most iconic theme park characters. He is loved by Disney fans all over the world, and how could he not be?
With his top hat, beard and loveable sidekick Figment, Dreamfinder had a mission to encourage children of all ages to use their imagination. He brought wonder and excitement to Disney guests of all ages. As a child of the 1980’s I was one of those (probably millions!) of kids whose favorite part of the original Journey Into Imagination attraction – was seeing and hearing Dreamfinder. To meet him outside of the attraction – was not an encounter that one could ever forget.
Fast forward to January 2015, when my friend Shelby suggested that we have an event with Ron Schneider. We thought it would be really fun to celebrate Ron, and the gift of joy he has given to so many. I contacted the original Dreamfider, and although he is VERY busy, he was incredibly gracious and agreeable to taking time out of his day to meet with us. January 8th 2015 – a handful of us sat down for an excellent meal at the Garden Grill – and had an absolute blast being in the presence of this man.
Ron was so cool, he even let me put on his hat! OK…well maybe I just put it on when he wasn’t looking. Still…he could have very well told me not to…but he didn’t. :)
As we finished up our meal, we had drawings for some fun gifts, sponsored by Travel Planner Mary Morales. Thanks Mary!
By this time, I had grown quite attached to the hat, and decided it made me feel in charge as I handed out raffle tickets!
I knew this would be a great time, and I knew it would be special because of Ron, and just being at Epcot with so many good friends – new and old. But during dinner, one of my (other) very favorite parts of the night began to happen. I met and spoke with Leo for the first time ever. My new friend Leo, over at the end of the table, with tears in his eyes, began telling me how much this event meant to him. Leo has loved the Dreamfinder character almost all of his life. He showed me his photo with Ron from long ago. LOOK at little Leo!! I can’t even take the cuteness in this photo.
My heart was so full as I was able to take Leo’s photo with Ron, and recapture the magic of that day so long ago!
After dinner, we all followed Ron to his attraction in the Imagination pavilion. Leo and Ron sat together in the front seat!
Of course a few shenanigans may have ensued along the way. As we exited the ride and visited with Ron, there seemed to be a some sort of signal spreading like wildfire among the cast members that there was a celebrity in the building! Everyone from sales associates, to leads, and everyone in between, started approaching him for photos. There may even have been an Imagineer or two!
Our group spent some more time together at Epcot until finally, we all had to say goodbye. I don’t think any of us will soon forget this magical night! Our thanks to Ron, our server Barry, and all the people who had a part in making it so very special! It was truly something that Disney dreams are made of.