Michael Broggie is an authority on the life and legacy of Walt Disney and the global empire he inspired. In just a few days, I will have the honor of interviewing Michael about an upcoming event, and this month, I will meet him in person. It’s about time we all get to know Michael Broggie a little better. There are some great stories here, and I am excited to help share them with the world as part of our new series: Disneyways Magical Spotlights: Disney Luminaries!
Michael Broggie got advice from Walt himself and now shares with others all he has learned. He’s written books (more on those later) and edited hundreds of articles for national publications. As a public speaker, Michael has toured throughout the country lecturing at universities, libraries, organizations and railroad conventions on his first-person experiences with Walt Disney and many of the Disney legends. Michael’s father, the late Roger Broggie, was selected personally by Walt Disney to be his first Imagineer. Imagineers, of course, are the designers and engineers responsible for so much at Disney Parks and Resorts all over the world. Michael Broggie also has the same birthday as my Mom – June 19th. The year is different though, Michael was born in 1942.
Michael Broggie’s Mom, Thelma C. Broggie, was a concert violinist. To this day, the family sponsors annual music scholarship awards to a graduating boy and girl in honor of Thelma.
As a small child, Michael Broggie got to ride on Walt Disney’s backyard 1/8-scale model Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which his father helped to build.
When he was just 12 years-old Michael Broggie’s first Disney assignment was to test drive the Autopia prototypes on the back lot of Disney Studios in Burbank, California. That lucky kid!!
His first official job with Disney was in 1960, when he was on summer break from college. He worked as an attractions Cast Member (ride operator) at Disneyland on the Autopia and Mine Train. I guess it all goes back to cars and trains for Michael Broggie! After completing his undergraduate education, he joined the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, as a publicity writer in the motion picture marketing department.
His career led to management and consulting positions with Marriott, Boise Cascade, Lake Arrowhead Resort and General Motors. He served on the ABC Television Network sponsorship team for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Michael had a lot of education beyond high school. He earned his MBA and a Doctorate in Marketing at Pacific University, San Diego; a BA in Communications at California State University, Northridge; and, an AA in Journalism from Los Angeles Valley College. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force. (Thank you for your service Michael!)
He attended law school at Lincoln University, but we won’t hold that against him. Ha!
He and his wife Sharon reside in Prescott Lakes, Arizona, where they are active in civic and charitable endeavors including volunteering on Prescott Police Department’s Citizens On Patrol unit. He is a founder of the Prescott Police Foundation, a member of the Central Arizona Model Railroad Club and the Westlake Yacht Club.
As if that wasn’t enough, he is chairman of the board of governors of The Carolwood Society, which he co-founded with his wife Sharon. He’s chairman emeritus of the Carolwood Foundation, and the operator of Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn Museum in Griffith Park, on behalf of the Disney family.
The above photo of Michael was taken at one of my favorite places in the world. The Carolwood-Pacific Room at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Villas. This display at the Wilderness Lodge Villas is worth seeking out. Even if you (not unlike myself) don’t think trains are “your thing”, the Carolwood-Pacific Room offers a charming insight into what was such an important part of Walt’s life. This room is like a mini-museum dedicated to the Carolwood-Pacific. Here, you will find photos, letters, and other unique artifacts and memorabilia that tell the story of how Walt, along with his friend and fellow Disney Legend, Roger Broggie, (Michal’s Dad) built the miniature train that wound its way through Walt’s backyard. I hope you’ll stop in and absorb some of the amazing things you can see inside the Carolwood-Pacific Room including two of the actual cars and sections of train track that were donated to this unique and amazing collection, as well as the original smaller mock-ups that were built in the Studio’s machine shop. I hope to get more of the story of how Michael was involved in all this very soon.
In the video below from 2015 – you can fast forward about 20 minutes to get a quick tour of the Carolwood-Pacific Room.
Now let’s talk about just a few of the books that Micheal has had a hand in!
His published books include “Walt Disney’s Railroad Story,” which earned the Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal for Best Biography. Click HERE to be taken to our affiliate link on Amazon.
“Many of my stories are drawn from my personal experiences of growing up with Walt, who selected my father to be his first Imagineer – the engineers and designers who built Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and themed amusement parks around the world. My book, Walt Disney’s Railroad Story, provides the first account of how Walt’s love of trains led to the development of Disneyland. I enjoy inspiring my audiences with Walt Disney’s Words of Wisdom, a message directly from Walt on how to live a quality life.” – Michael Broggie
Thousands of books and articles have been written about Walt Disney and his organization, yet few people realize the significance railroading played in the evolution of the Disney empire. Encouraged by Walt’s family and railfans inside and outside the Disney organization, Michael Broggie has chronicled the tale of Walt Disney’s personal involvement in railroading.
This book unveils the private realm of Disney railroading through hundreds of photographs, many of which have never before been made public, and interviews with Mrs. Walt Disney, Diane Disney Miller, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, Bob Harpur, Bill Cottrell, Roger Broggie, Bill Evans, and many others.
“Walt Disney’s Words of Wisdom” is a book he wrote in 2010. Click HERE to be taken to our affiliate link on Amazon.
Authors and historians have been challenged to understand how Walt Disney accomplished such an incredible array of achievements that defined family entertainment throughout the world. Directly addressing this question from then 12-year-old Michael Broggie in 1955, Walt referred him to Four Cs: “Somehow I can’t believe there are many heights that can’t be scaled by anyone who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage and Constancy, and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all over, implicitly and unquestioningly.” Inspired by Walt’s advice, over several decades Michael compiled and defined a list of 30 Cs including the four he learned from Walt. This handy sized booklet is designed to inspire, encourage, motivate, stimulate, and cheer the spirit!
He also wrote an illustrated biography, “Walt Disney’s Happy Place” in 2001. Click HERE to be taken to our affiliate link on Amazon.
This is a book to be shared by adults and children featuring two sets of text designed for easy reading. Text is accompanied by sketches drawn by one of Disney’s veteran illistrators, Carson Van Osten. The cover art of Walt Disney was painted by Bob Byerley, America’s leading artist of children at play. The story tells about the milestones in Walt Disney’s life using a series of barns that actually existed. A sub-theme is the importance of every family saving their own history for future generations. The postscript suggests ways to begin the process of saving family stories. A basic family tree diagram is included at the front of the book.
In this video, Michael Broggie, co-founder of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society and the Carolwood Foundation, describes the importance of miniatures to Walt Disney. Son of Roger Broggie – Walt’s first imagineer, Michael knew Walt Disney personally and witnessed first hand how Walt always cared about even the most miniature of details.
Learn more about Michael Broggie’s passion on his website http://www.carolwood.com.