Five years ago, I embarked on an exciting chapter in my life. I started to write for Geeks of Doom with a column based on my greatest diversion: Disney. Now, reaching this momentous milestone, I reflect on my experiences in writing about the House of Mouse, share some thoughts about the value of The Walt Disney Company in our lives, and say good-bye for now to the column that has continually enriched my life. Please indulge me as I offer a retrospective that also gives context to the meaning of Disney to me, and likely fellow Disney aficionados.
Let me first take you back in time. I had just concluded writing for about two years for a now-defunct entertainment site. It was disappointing to see its closure, though I was most fortunate when Eve and Dave Seligman entered my life and reached out to inquire about my interest in contributing to Geeks of Doom. The first thing that struck me was not only their generousness and aptness in developing a community of fellow “geeks,” but also the richness of the website with its variety of content. This seemed like the perfect new home, and indeed I began writing a weekly column – over the past two years publishing on a biweekly basis – that covered everything from Disney music reviews to commentary on the state of the theme parks. I created Disney In Depth from the viewpoint of a reader who wanted to get a taste of everything Disney. Drawing from my unwavering drive to absorb all the Disney news, complemented by my desire to distill significant events and elements of Disney into a comfortable and quick read, I developed articles with an eye to appeal to both Disney consumers and more casual Disney fans.
The first column, of course, centered on Disneyland’s rising ticket prices. This topic has never ceased to brew criticism, myself included. Early columns focused on events that dominated the public discourse, from the unfortunate shooting at the Aurora movie theater that prompted me to think of the merit of escapist entertainment, to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. Most notably during these early months involved attending the animation-themed Destination D event, where I attended a concert by Dick Van Dyke, one of my Disney idols. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw he sent out a tweet about my review of his concert. How fulfilling.
As time proceeded, I utilized Disney In Depth to serve as a platform to share my ideas of how Disney could capitalize on its best assets. Though frequently a common topic among Disney podcasters and fellow writers, I found much joy in arguing for Disney movies that should be translated into theme park attractions. I also offered some food for thought on what animated films could be remade into live-action properties. I still think a backstory of Frollo, much in the vein of Maleficent, would be a winner. Other gratifying columns involved celebrating the lives of media personalities who passed away and had major Disney connections. Roger Ebert reviewed countless Disney films, Garry Marshall directed several of them, and Bob Hoskins starred in one of its most significant features.
Once Disney In Depth gained steam, several amazing opportunities emerged. One was to report on the 2013 D23 Expo. An event that, like the two that preceded it, reinforced my adoration of everything under the Disney sun. Having attended the inaugural event, it was clear how quickly the fanbase had developed. Logistical issues aside, this remains one of Disney’s most rewarding experiences. I had a chance to meet R2-D2, see the first footage of films like Inside Out, and speak with Alan Menken and Richard M. Sherman via a teleconference where they complimented my questions. Again, I was overjoyed. Reporting on major Disney announcements, right from the source of where the news broke, was incredibly cool, and I have Geeks of Doom and the readership to thank for that.
Other notable experiences reflected my travels to unique Disney destinations, including seeing Newsies on Broadway, in which I “seized the day,” visiting San Francisco’s Walt Disney Family Museum, and sailing on the Disney Wonder right after its extended dry dock. Though several international Disney theme parks remain on my bucket list, partaking in these aforementioned Disney experiences, as well as many more over recent years, have only heightened my enthusiasm.
Then there’s the incredibly cool Disney experiences that I wrote about in great depth. Writing my undergraduate honors thesis on the history of Epcot, and primarily on the interconnectedness between its themes of culture and technology, allowed me to connect Disney to education. Presenting my thesis to family, friends, and community members, as well as to my committee that included famed Disney writer Jeff Kurtti, was immensely memorable. Other fun columns involved detailing the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit during its stay at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and seeing ABC News’ Robin Roberts (who has often covered the parks for Good Morning America) garner the Walter Cronkite Award. Attending this award ceremony while a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, my alma mater, was neat to say the least.
And how can I forget the neat opportunities that emerged through writing for Geeks of Doom? Though I never wrote about it, I was asked to contribute trivia questions to a Disney board game/app by Forrest-Pruzan Creative. Pictopia: Disney Edition was released in late 2014 and became a best-selling game. To play even a small role in the creation of a Disney game was akin to a dream come true. Forgive the cliche. Via social media I engaged with readers and even a few major Disney celebrities. Most of all, the ability to write about all facets of Disney, from analyzing the studio’s challenges with its PG-13 fare to the marketing of the Muppets, reflected my investment in approaching these subjects with a thoughtful, yet critical eye. Like other writers, I may be a Disney devotee, but I also do not shy away from addressing the company’s shortfalls.
You might be wondering why I am concluding the Disney In Depth column, at least for the foreseeable future. First, with most experiences, it always feels best to end experiences while they are as engrossing and rewarding as when they first began. At this five-year mark, I very much value ending the regular Disney In Depth column on a high note. Second, and just as significant, my continuation in my PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has prompted me to reassess how I allocate my time. Third, sometimes some space from even our most rewarding endeavors can produce new inspiration. All of these factors have accounted for this decision.
Disney’s importance in our lives stems from its ability to captivate our imaginations and enchantment. Sometimes the world feels hostile and unwelcoming, free of any sense of innocence and kindness, but Disney reminds us of how creativity and kindness transcend it all. Whether it be a Disney movie, song, book, show, or theme park attraction, they all transport us to special, safe, and satisfying places. The content that Disney writers, bloggers, podcasters, photographers, and other online personalities develop to capture and sustain our collective passion influences me. I hope that I helped play a piece in this space through nearly 250 Disney In Depth articles.
For the last time, for now, I sign off. Thank you, readers, for your interest and continuing to return to Disney In Depth for all this time. I hope you remain relishing the content produced by my colleagues at Geeks of Doom. Also, major thanks to Eve, Dave, and Jay with Geeks of Doom for all of their support.
As Mickey Mouse says, “see ya real soon.” This is not farewell forever, but for now.
Brett Ranon Nachman