From Dreamer to Dreamfinder (Bamboo Forrest Publishing) is the personal memoir from veteran theme park entertainer Ron Schneider. The book is the product of many years of work, success, and challenges. At first glance one might say that Ron is best known for his work as The Dreamfinder, the loveable walk around character from Disney’s EPCOT, but soon after you begin reading this book you begin to realize that there is so much more to Ron than the man who taught many kids in the early to mid-80’s how to dream.
In the book Ron takes you on a journey through the years. He shares his story of growing up a humble Southern California kid who was there for opening day at Disneyland. Young Ron’s love for the Anaheim park quickly grows into an obsession. After years of exploring almost every square inch of the park Ron tells the story of his first time visiting the Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland and how seeing performer and Disney legend Wally Boag would change his life forever. Ron explains, “By the time the show ends, I’m certain of three things: 1) I’ll be returning to the Golden Horseshoe; 2)Wally Boag is my new hero; and 3) someday I’m going to be just like him. Ron’s journey to being “just like him” is a twisting, funny, and fascinating trip through the 60’s and 70’s. From Magic Mountain, to portraying Henry VIII in a dinner theatre in the bowels of a “Satan Room” Ron tells us how he chased and followed his dream; every step of the way picking up, and revolutionizing fundamental tricks of the theme park entertainment trade.
Again, there is so much more to Ron than his brief but important stint as the Dreamfinder. One of the more touching and underrated stories in this book comes at a time when Ron is playing the Old Man of the Mountain at Magic Mountain. Ron’s character is responsible for an entire slew of animals from snakes to an elderly lion named Major. “I’m bending over in front of Major and he bites me on the ass. I whirl around and glare at him. The guests are laughing hysterically but Major acts as if nothing has happened.” When talking to the tame and well trained lion’s handler Ron learns that the bite was merely, “a kiss”. Early on in his life Ron learned that not only did he have a knack for entertaining humans, but even the animals he worked with were fond of him.
(Photo courtesy of: Ron Schneider)
Even during his days as a Universal Studios tour guide, and a student at LACC, Ron never stopped chasing his dream of performing at the Golden Horseshoe. It is a real testament to his commitment and love for the industry. Ron makes it to the Golden Horseshoe and a few years later, of course, to EPCOT as the Dreamfinder. Even after his days of wandering the imagination pavilion are over Ron continued to entertain masses of theme park goers. One thing that remains the same and holds true throughout this book is that Ron never stopped dreaming. As corny as that sounds, Ron really makes you believe that dreams do come true. If you work hard enough at something, and really hold on to your dreams, you can do anything. And while Ron also shares with us his ups and downs in the book , it is nothing short of inspiring and uplifting to read how resolute and determined Ron is to never let go of that dream.
Ron Schneider is so much more than The Dreamfinder, and this book is so much more than a collection of funny stories about lions biting hippies on the ass. This book is about one mans journey to becoming a themed entertainment legend, and how he never settled. Ron even uses the latter portion of his book to share some of his coveted tricks of the trade. Ron’s ability to, “think of your audience as a close friend who’s sitting next to you in a moving car” has won over millions of fans and tons of accolades from his peers. Coming from one nerdy theme park fan in South Florida who never got to meet the Dreamfinder, the Old Man on the Mountain, or Ron Schneider I can say that his story and this book are an amazing example of something the Uncle Walt taught us when we were kids; dreams do come true. Thanks for showing us how to dream Ron.
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