As I sit down to open Ron Schneider’s book “From Dreamer to Dreamfinder”, I stop for a moment to ponder what I know about this man and what I expect I’ll read. The only answers I can come up with are the fact that Ron was the original Dreamfinder when EPCOT Center first opened in 1982 and that he has one of the same unique characteristics that Walt Disney had: he can tell a story and, in doing so, can take you on a journey. I knew this because, prior to receiving the book, I had enjoyed an afternoon at EPCOT (thanks to Krista Joy of Disneyways.com fame and author Shelby Pickett) with Ron. The afternoon, which began with dinner at The Garden Grill, allowed an intimate group of us to sit and relive the fascinating details of the first character allowed inside EPCOT Center, followed by a ride-along of the current Journey Into The Imagination with Figment ride. Ron’s eyes sparkled as he told us just a few of the stories of his short-lived (but legendary) life as Dreamfinder. He told us of the little boy that said he was Jesus, and of meeting celebrities for the taping of the opening of EPCOT Center. Then we had a rare opportunity indeed. One of the gentlemen dining with us had met Ron years ago and had his picture taken outside of the Imagination Pavilion with Ron. Tears filled my eyes as I watched this now grown up man pose with the Dreamfinder to recreate a picture taken more than 20 years ago.
So as I opened my book, I eagerly anticipated the joys I would find within. And believe me, I was not disappointed. Ron has had an incredible life, both within and outside of the theme park world. From working with the famed Wally Boag in Disneyland at the Diamond Horseshoe, to helping to craft themed dinner shows on Orlando’s famed International Drive, to helping create the Character Department at Universal Orlando Resort, Ron has clearly always had a brilliant eye for what the public will love and has brought joy to our hearts, even if we don’t know he was behind it. As I said before, Ron was instrumental in bringing character interaction into being in Universal Orlando Resort, including such acts as the Blues Brothers, among many others. Ron also had a hand in what is now known as Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Review. His repertoire also includes working at Six Flags Magic Mountain, voicing a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Sea World, and helping write scripts and record for the Monsters Inc. Laugh-Floor attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park.
In the book, Ron gives you an honest viewpoint of what it’s like to be a theme park employee and the guts, sweat, and tears it takes to put on the show every night. He gives us an in-depth look at the inner-workings of how a successful entrepreneur works his magic, and also shows us a no-holds-barred look at the cut-throat entertainment business. He shows us that not all that glitters is gold, even though you put your heart and soul into it.
Anyone that has enjoyed a good dinner show, or thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of a theme park attraction would enjoy reading “From Dreamer to Dreamfinder”. Ron’s work with Six Flags, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Productions, and Sea World have had a lasting impact on generations of families and will continue to bring us laughs and joy throughout the ages and his skill at telling a good story has led to an amazing book. This is definitely one book that will not be collecting any dust on my shelf (I’ll be too busy referencing it again and again in my own daily life).
Thanks for the memories Dreamfinder!