Authors: Jeff Dixon
STORMING THE KINGDOM
Storming the Kingdom
Copyright © 2014 Jeff Dixon
Published by Deep River Books
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
ISBN – 13: 9781940269290
ISBN – 10: 1940269296
Library of Congress: 2014954901
Printed in the USA
Cover design by Joe Bailen, Contajus Designs
his book makes references to various Disney copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, and registered marks owned by the Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney Enterprises, Inc. This book is a work of fiction and is not authorized or endorsed by the Walt Disney Company or any other businesses named in this book. All attractions, product names, and other works mentioned in this book are trademarks of their respective owners, and the names are used for editorial purposes; no commercial claim to their use is claimed by the author or publisher. These include but are not limited to: Walt Disney World, Inc., The Magic Kingdom, Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Main Street USA, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Epcot Center, Downtown Disney, Audio-Animatronics, Carousel of Progress, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, Contemporary Resort, The Great Movie Ride, Cinderella Castle, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Pluto, Walt Disney, and additional places and personalities in and around the Walt Disney World resort. Nothing contained herein is intended to express judgment on, or affect the validity of legal status of, any character, term, or word as a trademark, service mark, or other proprietary mark. Neither the author nor publisher is associated with any product, vendor, or service provider mentioned in this fictitious work.
This novel, being a work of fiction set in an imagined future, suggests no claim to the events or characters in the book, including the imagined future of the Company. All characters, places, and events either real or imagined are used fictitiously as storytelling devices.
HIS BOOK IS BUILT UPON THE FOLLOWING FACTS
The Disney brothers, Walt and Roy, were invited guests at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The following day,
The Huntsville Times
featured the headline: Walt Disney Makes Pledge To Space.
Walt and Roy Disney held a press conference at the Cherry Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida. They announced to the public their plans to build a new Disney theme park in Central Florida.
An official gift was given to the City of Kissimmee, Florida by the Walt Disney Studios.
Walter Elias Disney passed away at the age of 65 in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, California.
A private memorial ceremony was held at the Little Church of the Flowers at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. No announcement of the funeral was made until after it had taken place. Only members of the immediate family were in attendance. Forest Lawn officials refused to disclose any details of the funeral or disposition of the body, stating only that “Mr. Disney’s wishes were very specific and had been spelled out in great detail.”
Disney department heads were invited to a screening room at the Disney Studios. Sitting in assigned seats, they viewed a film featuring Walt Disney sitting behind his desk and addressing them as individuals, gesturing toward them as he spoke, and laying out future plans. Roy Disney postponed his retirement to complete the Florida project.
Roy Disney was the host at Wometco’s Park Theatre in Central Florida for Project Florida. This invitation-only event screened the film
Walt Disney World Resort: Phase 1
followed by a press conference. The film included portions of the documentary EPCOT featuring Walt Disney filmed just months before his death.
The Walt Disney World Resort opened the gates to the Magic Kingdom theme park.
Roy Disney dedicated the Magic Kingdom theme park based upon the philosophies and vision of his brother, Walt Disney. Roy passed away less than two months later.
The Key to the Kingdom
, a work of factual fiction is released for the first time.
Unlocking the Kingdom
, is released. The novel of factual fiction, now known as “faction,” continues the story started in
The Key to the Kingdom
The lives and legacy of Walt and Roy Disney continue to touch the lives of people around the world.
tinging needles of rain burst across Grayson Hawkes’s skin. His shoes squeaked as they slid across the metal surface, desperately searching for a foothold so he could maintain his balance. Wind blasted against him. The savage wrath of the storm turned each drop of rain into a dangerous projectile threatening to knock him off of his moving perch. Bracing himself by leaning into the fury, he inched forward.
Hurricane Ginger had arrived just as the forecasters had predicted. The category 3 storm was packing winds of 125 miles per hour, but those were nested along the eye wall of the meteorological monster, and Ginger’s eye wasn’t on him yet. Hawk hoped the eye of the storm was still miles away. The gusts he was battling were just an 80-mile-per-hour preview of the main attraction coming soon. The storm had not surprised him, or anyone else for that matter. There had been plenty of advance warning as hurricane trackers had watched the force of nature develop and then followed her path toward Central Florida.
The unexpected twist for Hawk was that he was facing the onslaught of the storm while struggling to stay balanced on top of a Disney Mark VI monorail streaking though the Walt Disney World Resort, traveling at a speed of 35 miles an hour, headed for the Epcot theme park.
Slowly his foot glided forward, grabbing another step across the top of the monorail. Hawk was on the last car of the six-car train. His goal was to travel the length of the train to get to the lead control cabin. He steeled himself to step across the juncture between the cars. The gap would be an easy one for him to cross…on a normal day. Today was anything but normal. Normal would have meant he was riding inside the monorail instead of standing on top of it. Normal would have meant that the monorail was transporting guests to and from theme parks instead of running empty because the parks were closed due to the storm. Normal would have meant that this monorail, Monorail Red, was stored away safely until the storm had passed. This was definitely not a normal day.
As the sleek monorail snaked along the concrete track, Hawk shoved himself airborne to cross to the roof of the next passenger car. His front foot landed exactly where he had hoped. Perfect!
A gust of wind hit him. The cyclone force of it struck him in the chest and drove him back. Feet lifting off the roof, Hawk felt himself flying backward and glanced over his shoulder to see the monorail passing beneath him. Momentarily suspended in midair, he longed for gravity to return—and his wish was granted instantly. He smashed onto the roof of the monorail, flat on his back, staring up into the angry gunmetal sky.
The driving wind, the rain-drenched white roof of the cabin, and the speed of the Mark VI combined to propel him skating on his shoulder blades across the slick surface. Flipping over, he spread out both arms against the wet metal to slow his slide and stabilize himself. Excruciatingly slow seconds passed, and finally he screeched to a stop. Inhaling deeply, he gradually worked himself back around to face the other direction.
The gap between the cars was a good thirty feet ahead of him; his failed attempt to get across to the other car less than a minute ago had caused him to lose ground. Willing himself to try again, he pushed himself up into a crawling position. The new strategy would be to creep across, keep his center of gravity closer to the roof of the car, and then figure out a different way to cover the gap between the cars when he reached the connect point. Inches became feet, then feet became yards as once again Hawk made his way across the expanse of the monorail section. Glancing forward and squinting his eyes against the blinding deluge, he realized that the track was about to veer to the left.
In less than a heartbeat, Hawk felt the sickening shift of the vehicle below him. Flattening himself against the roof of the car, he braced himself as another raging blast of wind surged against him. He felt his body twist in an out-of-control tumble toward the side of the narrow roof of the monorail. Hands grasping for anything they could close around, they found nothing but air. Hopelessly sliding, Hawk knew there was nothing he could do to prevent the inevitable. He thought to himself,
How in the world did I end up in this mess?
as he slid over the edge and off the roof of the monorail, as it raced through the raging storm.
Seven Days Ago
awk blinked as a flurry of flashes from cameras added to the already overpowering glow on him from the lights of news cameras and spotlights. “When Walt Disney spoke about Disneyland, he once said, ‘Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. It will always be building and growing and adding new things…new ways of having fun, of learning things and sharing the many exciting adventures which may be experienced in the company of family and friends.’ Walt knew what he was talking about. His vision for the theme park, for the company, and for what the future could hold inspired us then and continues to drive us forward to this day.”
Although the evening was pleasant for late summer, he felt a stream of sweat trickle down his neck and disappear under his collar. The black suit he was wearing made him stand in stark contrast to the light and colorful backdrop of the Walt Disney Amphitheater where he stood behind a Plexiglas lectern. The slight breeze tousled his unkempt mop of salt-and-pepper hair, blowing it into his eyes. He brushed it back nonchalantly, taking a moment to check his notes, and then he immediately refocused his gaze on the sea of people spread about before him.
Every seat was filled, and people stood behind the seating area. News trucks, reporters, and journalists had turned this outside pavilion in Downtown Orlando into a nightmare circus of logistical mayhem for the Orlando Police Department. Hawk had insisted on speaking here, in this venue, located on Lake Eola, a popular postcard destination in the City of Orlando; the easy access to downtown restaurants, movie theatres, shops, and galleries made Lake Eola a frequent stop for locals as well as tourists. What had begun originally as a sinkhole back in the 1880s has been turned into a beautiful lake. The centerpiece of the lake is a gigantic, dome-shaped fountain that was first installed in 1912; the fountain has been one of the symbols of Downtown Orlando ever since. Each evening at 8:00 and 9:30 p.m., the fountain comes to life with a vibrant colored-light show, accompanied by lively jazz music that can be heard throughout the entire Lake Eola Park. The music is piped around the nearly one mile of sidewalk surrounding the lake, so that each evening guests can stroll, watch, and listen to the sounds of the city at their leisure.
The clock was ticking toward the 9:30 light show, and as a surprise for the crowd, the soundtrack would be provided by the music of Disney to commemorate this evening. After briefly refocusing on his notes, he plunged back into his speech.
“Not far from this spot, in November of 1965, Walt himself, along with his brother, Roy, and the governor of Florida, Hayden Burns, held a press conference and announced to the world the creation of Disney World. That’s why we felt it was appropriate to come back here tonight to share with you what we are going to be doing. Walt reminded us that ‘all of our dreams could come true if we had the courage to pursue them.’ Tonight we wanted you to be a part of the courageous pursuit of our next dream. When you combine sweat, determination, inspiration, and hard work…magic can happen. And the vision Walt had for the greatest adventure yet is about to come true. I can’t wait to embrace tomorrow with each of you. Thanks for being here this evening.”
Another array of flashing lights enveloped Hawk as he waved to the crowd and stepped away from the podium. Applause grew into a standing ovation as he walked across the stage and down the steps and was met by a security detail provided by the Orlando Police Department. Hawk continued to wave and greet some of the guests who lined the sidewalk he was being escorted along. People had surged forward and lined the walkway, but they were held back by barricades put in place to control the anticipated crowds. The Company’s publicity department had done its job; media groups, entertainment industry professionals, Disney fans, and curious onlookers had come out en masse to listen to the speech given by the chief creative architect of the Walt Disney Company.
Nearing the black stretch limousine parked along North Rosalind Avenue, Hawk did not deviate from the plan for the evening’s event. As soon as he was done speaking, he would make his exit, enter the awaiting car, and then be escorted away from the amphitheater site. This kind of event was not his favorite. The fancy car, the black suit, and the orchestrated media events were things he usually pushed back against. Tonight’s announcement and press extravaganza had come together after months of conversations during which he reluctantly agreed the event needed to be done with a style and flair he preferred to avoid.
Pausing briefly and looking upward toward the media towers that had been erected along the back of the viewing area, he saw Kate Young speaking into a microphone as she watched him walk toward the vehicle.
had run a feature on his romance with Kate and named them one of the top power couples in America. When the reviewer asked what it felt like to be one of the most high-profile power couples, he had laughed and responded, “Most days we have our hands full just trying to be a couple and stay a couple.” They had now been together for a year and a half. He loved her and at times had started to imagine what a future could look like with her in it. For him, that was progress.
Kate smiled and paused long enough to blow him a kiss before continuing to cover the event. He returned her smile, waved at the crowd one more time, and loosened his tie as he ducked into the car. The door was closed behind him. Before he slid back into the plush leather seat, he wiggled out of the coat and took of his tie and threw them both onto the seat next to him. The gentle tug created by the car moving away from the curb pulled him back into the seat as he traveled away from the park. He smiled and waved to the crowd who peered through the window as it moved down the street. While most limousines have tinted windows to conceal who might be inside, this one did not. Hawk had been so resistant to using a stretch car for the speech that one of the compromises was to make the car a little less celebrity-esque…if that were possible. Right on cue, the light show began as the fountain splashed to life in the middle of the lake. In less than a minute, the crowd, the music, and the lake faded into the background of the city as the sleek limo followed the police motorcycle escort leading them through town.
The car had seats that wrapped around the extended passenger area. Hawk was in the rear seat. Juliette Keaton and Farren Rales sat across from him in the rear-facing seat.
“Couldn’t wait to get out of the suit could you?” Juliette shook her head and reached over, picking up the suit coat Hawk had tossed aside. Neatly folding it, she returned it to the seat next to him.
“How do you think it went?” he asked.
Juliette smiled reflectively and hesitated as she always did before she gave him an honest evaluation. She reached across again to pat him on the arm.
“It went great. You did great.” She leaned back into her seat. “I don’t understand why you were so nervous. As a pastor, you’ve spoken to crowds for years. There was no way it wasn’t going to go well.”
Farren tipped his head. “Juliette, our friend here is probably more concerned with how the content was received than his delivery of it. And you are right, he did very well. I expected nothing less.”
Hawk glanced at his two friends traveling with him. His forehead wrinkled slightly as he turned back to look out the window. “I think we’ll get strong reactions to it, some good and some, well…not so much.”
The long car turned left onto West Livingston Avenue and continued its journey, soft interior lights casting shadows across their faces. Farren Rales was the one person who had changed Hawk’s life with greater impact than any other. They had met while Hawk was the pastor of a church, and their unique friendship developed as Rales, an Imagineering Ambassador hired by Walt Disney himself, taught the teacher how to become a better storyteller. Farren’s resume featured attractions he had created all over the world for Disney, but Hawk had discovered something far deeper about him. Far-ren had been part of an elite group of Imagineers chosen by Walt and Roy Disney to make sure the company was secure and their dreams stayed alive in the years ahead.
Three years ago, Rales personally entrusted Hawk with Walt’s key to the king-dom—and then everything had changed. Hawk was now the leader of the biggest entertainment company on the planet. According to Rales, it was because Walt would have wanted it that way.
“Let’s think about it.” Rales rubbed his chin and spoke in a hushed tone. “You just spoke to people who came from all over the world to hear what people have been waiting to hear for years. You are going to build a fifth theme park at Walt Disney World. An amusement park Walt himself wanted to build.” Farren understood that Hawk was now the keeper of many of Walt Disney’s secrets and had access to historical archives that others didn’t know existed. He also knew the plans Hawk had announced tonight had been developed from some of Walt’s original notes. “Walt Disney’s Adventure! A theme park built on the myths and legends people have talked about for years. A place where guests will feel like they are the adventurers, making discoveries for the very first time.”
Juliette brushed her hair gently back behind her ear. “Hawk, I really think you intrigued a lot of people tonight. You promised a perfectly blended balance between experiences for thrill seekers and themed family attractions to take people on the adventure of a lifetime. The new resort area will create jobs and be a huge benefit for the Central Florida economy. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a milestone anniversary for Walt Disney World than a new theme park.”
“Promising a perfect theme park is one thing; making it happen is another.” Hawk smiled slightly as the car cornered wide, beginning the journey toward Interstate 4 down Hughey Avenue.
“Granted, you have put before the company quite a task.” Rales’s eyes sparkled. “But Walt Disney’s Adventure will feature a city built under the sea, a city built up in the sky, a city built underground, and a city built inside an active volcano…I’d like to help build it myself!”
“You can.” Hawk turned back toward the old Imagineer. “I’ve been thinking it was time for you to come out of retirement. You’re never really going to be able to step away from what Walt put you in place to do.”
“No, I’m far too old and way too tired. Someone recently said, when you combine sweat, determination, inspiration, and hard work…magic can happen.” Rales grinned. “That’s why you are in charge…I did my job when I selected you.” The car approached the Amway Center. The arena that hosted concerts and sporting events had been built in hopes of revitalizing the Downtown Orlando area. In some ways, that had happened.
Just past the arena, the motorcycle escorts were going to pull aside, and the car would accelerate onto the interstate and head back to Walt Disney World. Hawk’s driver slowed and stopped at the traffic signal on the corner of Hughey Avenue and Church Street. One of the escorts waved over his shoulder, indicating they would be leaving the car to make the rest of the journey on its own. Hawk watched the officers pull toward the side of the road as the light turned green and the car began to pick up speed, heading toward the entrance ramp.
An explosion of glass filled the back of the limousine with tiny, glistening shards. A muffled thud came from the seat where Juliette and Farren were riding. Another explosion flung pieces of glass into the seating area as the car continued to pick up speed and merged into traffic on the interstate. Hawk had reflexively turned away from the window as the glass blew into the automobile. Trying to comprehend what had just happened, he looked across to where his friends were seated and found himself staring into a nightmare.