There are many elements that make Disneyland what it is. It’s the sound of the train whistle. It’s the intoxicating smell of caramel on Main Street. It’s the low hum of Jungle Cruise boats leaving the dock or it’s the way the sunlight hits the freshly planted flowers that encompass the statue of Walt and Mickey-- it’s the small things that matter. I discovered the true meaning of this when I met James and Betty.
It was a bright summer morning when I first met James. As usual I was cleaning and attending to the lobby, when I saw him from across the room. I could tell that something was troubling him, so I asked what I could do to assist him. James proceeded to introduced himself and tell me all about his life. We talked for a good bit, but then he left. The next day, I saw him again waiting in the lobby. So I approached him and greeted him. We chatted again and then he asked me, “Do you know where I could get a ticket to go to Disneyland for a few hours”? I had to inform him that they only sell full day tickets and there aren’t any half day admission tickets. We talked again, but then his phone rang and he left. Again, I saw him the next day. When he approached me, he asked if I could help him buy two tickets. I went over to the desk to log on to the system and I asked him who he was going to the park with. He gave me this grin; turned around and pointed at a frail lady in a wheelchair, and said “I am going with that angel right over there”. At that moment, I stopped what I was doing and looked. She had a Mickey Mouse scarf wrapped around her head, a decorated oxygen tank, and was wearing a powder blue shirt. James leaned over the counter and said, “That’s my Betty. Today is our 50th anniversary. For our first date, we went to Disneyland. The best part of that date was when we sat on Main Street and she kissed me on the cheek”. He continued to tell me that the doctors let Betty out today, because they knew it might be her last. Betty had been diagnosed with liver cancer and was fading quickly. After hearing all of that my heart dropped, I knew I had to do something. As he pulled out his wallet to pay for the tickets and I told him to put his money away, because this was on me. I walked them to the main gate of Disneyland and they told me their love story. I was deeply moved by the whole thing. When we finally arrived, Betty gave me hug and thanked me for giving them a moment to remember, even if it was going to be short. James shook my hand and told me, “There needs to be more people like you in this world”. I watched them as they walked away and smiled at that kind of love. Just before they reached the end of the tunnel, James leaned over and kissed Betty on the cheek. It was a beautiful moment.
The weeks went by and I was on to the next project of “Making Magic”, when my manager handed me a letter. The letter was from James. Betty had passed away the day after her visit to the parks. He told me about the funeral and how he was holding up. Then at the end of the letter he told me, “Thank you for giving Betty the best last day anyone could have. Thank you for letting us walk down memory lane and for letting us remember how sweet our life together has been”…
Never forget it’s the small things in life that count, like a kiss on the cheek while sitting on Main Street.