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Ron Schneider's "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder" is a hilarious & informative insider's view of the themed entertainment business

Ron Schneider's "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder" is a hilarious & informative insider's view of the themed entertainment business

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My apologies, folks. I know that JHM has been extremely light on content this past week or so. But I have been traveling. Dear Lord, have I been traveling.


I wonder how many Frequent Flyer miles The Dreamfinder racked up
while he was flying this contraption around EPCOT Center's Kodak
pavilion? Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

First I flew out to LA to take part in a two day-long  "Wreck-It Ralph" / "Secret of the Wings" press junket. Then it was back to New Hampshire so that Nancy & I could drive Alice down to Massachusetts so that my 18 year-old daughter could get some additional face time with my parents & her cousins before she then had to return to Southern California to begin getting ready for college.

Alice and I made that trip together this past Friday morning. And then -- after spending the weekend at the Disneyland Hotel covering D23's Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features event -- my Ex and I accompanied our daughter to college on Monday morning to begin the registration process. And once that was done, I  headed off to the airport again to fly back to New England. Where a week's worth of phone interviews (EX: Just yesterday, I spoke with Disney Legend Richard Sherman about what it was like for he & his brother Robert to write songs for "The AristoCats") awaited.

And given that there's really no such thing as a direct flight between Manchester, NH and ... Well, anywhere, , I did what I thought was a very smart thing. I brought along a copy of Ron Schneider's new book, "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder: A Life and Lessons Learned in 40 Years Behind a Name Tag" (Bamboo Forest Publishing, July 2012) to read.


Copyright Bamboo Forest Publishing.
All rights reserved

And thanks to Ron and all of the terrific tales that he had to share about his days in themed entertainment, being crammed in the middle seat didn't seem quite so bad anymore. I could ignore the hyper-active toddler seated directly behind me (who howled all the way from Detroit to Salt Lake City) by immersing myself in the tale of how this kid from Inglewood, CA who dreamed of someday climbing up onstage at the Golden Horseshoe and playing the comic's role in that long-running Disneyland revue to actually filling Wally Boag's shoes in that Frontierland show.


Ron Schneider in the Pecos Bill outfit that he used to
wear for the finale of Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe
Revue show. Copyright Bamboo Forest Publishing.
All rights reserved

Or -- for that matter -- disregard the turbulence we hit coming out of Chicago by burrowing down into the part of this 300 page-paperback which discussed how Mr. Schneider (way back in the Fall of 1982) wound up becoming the very first WDW Cast Member to portray The Dreamfinder in that Resort's newly opened theme-park-of-the-future, EPCOT Center.


"Say 'Hello' to my little purple friend." Copyright
Bamboo Forest Publishing. All rights reserved

Mind you, I'm not just saying "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder" is a great read because -- in this book's acknowledgments -- Ron is kind enough to say that

The first bow must go to Jim Hill (of JimHillMedia.com) who started this whole thing with his comment back in 2007; after hearing me speak about my career at an NFFC meeting, he remarked, "That's a book." Jim has been an enthusiastic booster of this project all along, even before there was a project to boost.

... I'm saying this because "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder" is loaded with genuinely entertaining stories that take you behind-the-scenes at some of the world's most popular theme parks (i.e. WDW's Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios Florida and Six Flags Magic Mountain, to name just a few). Not to mention the good practical advice that Schneider has folded into this book. Which should now be considered essential reading for anyone who's thinking of possibly making their career in the field of themed entertainment.


Ron back during his Magic Mountain days, when he played Professor
S.J. Spillikin, that theme park's tricky traveling salesman.
Copyright Bamboo Forest Publishing. All rights reserved

I mean, where else on the planet are you going to find a book that tells you what it was like to race through the corridors of Walt Disney Imagineering (which Ron did while he was shooting a never-released Mike Jittlov film. Which the Wizards of WED rushed into production when it appears that "Magic Journeys" -- that 3D movie which used to be screened at EPCOT Center's Kodak Pavilion -- wouldn't actually be ready in time for that theme park's grand opening) as well as giving you good practical tips about the best ways to improvise while playing a character in a theme park setting.

Whether you're 30,000 feet up in the air or just crashed out on the couch at home, I'm sure that you're going to discover -- as you page through this paperback -- that "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder" is really one dream of a book. Full of terrific never-before-told stories that offer Ron's genuinely unique take on the themed entertainment business. Which is why I'm hoping that this will be the first of many tomes from Mr. Schneider.  So that -- in the years ahead -- he can share even more of his hilarious & often quite touching tales of what it's actually like to work in "Cast Members Only" Country.

Here's a quick story from Ron's "Dreamfinder" days that (I think, anyway) will serve as a great example of what you can expect to find in this book:


The Dreamfinder and Figment meet a new friend out by EPCOT Center's
Leapfrog Fountains. Copyright Bamboo Forest Publishing.
All rights reserved

One day I'm wrapping up my last set (as the walk-around version of The Dreamfinder who used to be found greeting Guests at EPCOT Center's Journey into Imagination pavilion) and heading back to my dressing room to pack up the dragon and go home. I'm moving quickly through the crowd and find myself face-to-face with an adorable five-year-old boy.

He's by himself, gazing up at (Ron and the Figment dragon puppet which Mr. Schneider used to work with while he was playing The Dreamfinder) with a look of total wonder. Assessing the situation I determine I'm safe stopping for a minute to chat so I kneel down and introduce him to Figment. I ask (the little boy) if he's having fun, how he liked my ride, where's he from -- but can get nothing out of him except an astounded look. Finally I stand and tell him, "Well I gotta go now ... Goodbye!"

That's when he finds his tongue. "Bye-bye, Jesus."


Ron Schneider's surprise cameo appearance at D23's Destination D: Walt Disney World
40th event in May of 2011.
Copyright Bamboo Forest Publishing. All rights reserved

If moments like that are enough to make you happy, you're going to love working in the parks.

And if reading a brief excerpt like that just made you smile, you're going to love the rest of "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder: A Life and Lessons Learned in 40 Years Behind a Name Tag," Ron Schneider's hilarious & informative insider's look at the world of  themed entertainment.

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  • Thanks a lot, Jim!

  • Looks like a fun read!

  • I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this book. If I knew you had it while you were visiting, I would have "borrowed" it.

  • I bought this last Friday, and finished by Sunday, paying no attention to the other reading material that came my way in the interim (newspapers, magazines, the dozen or so other books I haven't finished).  If you are a Disney fan - and you wouldn't be reading this site if you weren't - you will greatly enjoy this book, which provides a much deeper view of the author's career in the theme park business than I anticipated and, more importantly, his insights about how to do it well.  Your four dollars (via kindle) will be well spent.

  • Based on your reccomendation, I got this book for my Kindle and I loved it. The room I was reading it in seemed to melt away and I was standing in the park with Ron as my personal guide. I see that the authr has commented here. Please let him know how much I enjoyed it.

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