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Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Exterior and trouble accepting new ideas

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

In a story about Ignaz Semmelweis, the survival rate of children and their mothers, and handwashing included in his book “How to Fly a Horse,” Kevin Ashton points out that even in a “field as empirical and scientific as medicine… Creation is seldom welcome” (74 – 76). People need creativity and change, and they resist it at the same time. It’s part of the dichotomy of being human.

When Walt Disney wanted his imagineers to envision and create a haunted house for his theme park, they all came up with the same idea: a decrepit, run-down building that had ghosts. Walt didn’t like it. He didn’t want a run-down building ruining his pristine park.

According to Sam Gennawey’s “The Disneyland Story,” Ken Anderson, the original lead on the Haunted Mansion as we now know it, wanted to hide the run-down mansion behind trees native to Louisiana. Walt didn’t go for it.

Harriet Burns built three models for Walt to choose from. The imagineers put the pristine building behind the other two decrepit versions. Walt chose the beautiful building every time. He wanted guests to feel welcome in his park; that meant everything had to be clean and in good repair, even the haunted mansion.

Walt was working with some of the most creative people in the planet. Imagineers knew Walt, had experienced his success and demeanor first hand. Even when he told them, “We’ll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside” (Surrell, Jason, “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic,” p. 13), they insisted on trying to convince him that a haunted house needed to look a certain way.

“Everyone expects a residence for ghosts to be run-down. But Walt was always looking for the unexpected,” (Genneway, p. 180) said Claude Coats.

When those who consider themselves creative and create for a living have trouble accepting new ideas and ways of doing things, everyone else has even greater problems to accept the changes that come with innovations. It’s okay. We just need to realize that creativity is just as necessary for the advancement of humanity as being wary of the change that it brings is. As soon as we can embrace our seemingly opposed sides, we can see they are working together to make us more successful, as long as we don’t let one win over the other all the time.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company” officially releasing on April 14, 2019.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Journal

Journal and iPhone

Leonardo da Vinci wrote his backwards. Walt Disney is rumored to have had one by his bed, so he could jot notes down as they came to him at night. They help with feelings and can be used for different reasons. Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and Frida Kahlo are other creative people who kept journals. If you want to improve your creativity, a creative journal can be a big help.

Popular stories about solutions to problems and creative leaps forward often feature some sort of relaxed state of being. The person is drifting off to sleep, in the shower, out for a walk, or driving a vehicle and the idea presents itself. Far too often people complain that these ideas fade quickly. They can’t remember them, and they didn’t write them down.

Keeping a journal and a pencil with you at all times, or using a recording device to make notes when your hands are otherwise occupied, will allow you to capture these ideas. More importantly, by keeping a journal that tracks ideas and inspirations, you’re telling your brain what you find to be important. Write it down, or transcribe it later, and keep these ideas together. When you’re ready to work on something, go to your idea journal. If you experience a block, the idea journal can help.

If you want to find a form of journal taking that gamifies ideas, check out Takeo Higuchi’s Idea Marathon at our archive website. Higuchi’s method provides a way to keep track of and have ideas while scoring points!

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Get “Penguinate! Positive Creativity: Improve your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Old Creativity and New Creativity collide in ‘Happy Feet’

In “Happy Feet,” every penguin has a heart song that he or she uses to find a mate. If the songs work together, the penguins marry and have eggs. The heart song is so important that a penguin isn’t a penguin without it. When Mumble is hatched with feet that compel him to dance, his father is worried and upset. He admonishes his son to keep his feet still; he knows other penguins wouldn’t understand.

Time proves his father right. His dancing is seen as an afront to the Great ‘Guin, and Mumble gets blamed for the lack of fish. Mumble doesn’t think that the accusation makes any sense. Mumble is ultimately banished from the penguin community. He goes to find the real culprit responsible for the missing fish – people. In the end, it’s Mumble’s happy feet that save the penguin community from starving as humans take an interest in the him, and after he teaches his penguin community to dance, the penguin colony on the ice.

Singing and dancing are creative acts, but if a person or penguin keep singing the same song, the act loses its creativity. Creativity must be something new. In the case of “Happy Feet,” it’s the dancing that is creative, and because it’s new, it threatens the status quo. Mumble, its initiator, gets punished for his creativity. When he returns to the community, his new creative act saves the penguins.

People rely on creativity to continue to adapt and grow, as a species and as individuals; people are also threatened by anything that’s new. It’s the paradox of creativity: human beings need it to survive and embrace it in words, but fear the change that comes with it and reject it out of hand. Creativity can be great and terrible. It’s up to us to embrace the innovations that will solve current problems and to encourage those creative acts that bring more beauty and true enjoyment, like dancing and singing, to life.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Call to Action: Create

Waving stuffed penguins

Create Something Beautiful

We are confronted with ugly every day, and I don’t want to give it more space here. Bringing beauty into the world is hard. It’s much easier to give in to our baser natures and create from that. Turn away from your normal reaction and do something different. Do something beautiful; create something beautiful.

Create Something Peaceful

Even if your insides are in turmoil and your brain is spinning, take a deep breath and exhale deeply. Grab hold of the emotions and find the peace within. Bring that peace to your creation process. You may consider doing something to release your frustration, and that’s okay. Then dig deeper and create something that will bring others peace.

Create Something Fun

Haven’t we’ve been entertained to death? Consider the number of shows that thrive on the horrors of mankind. We need to counteract that. It’s time to create something fun. Bring to life something that will bring a smile to people’s faces. Don’t go for easy. Creation shouldn’t be easy. Instead, go for the funny that is difficult and transcendent. Create something that your neighbors’ children, your significant other’s grandparents, and you find funny. Maybe it’s a cat video. Whatever it is, choose something that’s funny without giving in to the easy jokes.

Create Something with Love

Show your love through your creative work. Baked goods are nice, too.

Create Something Inspirational

Beautiful landscapes and inspirational quotes are nice, but it’s time for you to become the inspiration. Do something truly inspirational. Create something that inspires you. Put your heart and soul into something that will lift humanity to greater heights. It’s time to shine your light. Bring it on. #penguinate

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The Secrets to Exercising for Creatives

people putting hands together

Most people find excuses to not exercise. We need to find excuses to exercise. Since we’re creative, we can do it. Put your creativity to work for you and get your health in the right place so you can create more, create longer, and create better.

Make Time

Like your creative activities, you have to make time to exercise. If you think you don’t have time, you will never have time. There are so many responsibilities pulling you in so many directions; it’s easy to ignore exercise even as your health deteriorates. Set aside 30 minutes every day to do something good for you, your life, and your craft.

Find a Partner

One of the best things you can do is find a partner who is able to motivate you to exercise. External motivation may not be the best motivation, but if it gets you started and drags you through those times when you’d rather be working on the computer, then take it. We all have family members or friends we need to spend time with. If it’s your children, find activities that encourage movement together. Your significant other could also be motivating. A good friend might do the trick to. If you know you need to spend time with someone choose events and activities that will encourage both of you to be healthy.

Find a Reason

Use your creative works to help improve your mindset toward exercise. If you’re a writer, this can be as easy as really wanting to know what basic training is like, or trying to describe fighting styles, or just harnessing the feelings involved in a certain activity that corresponds to your writing’s settings. It’s hard to write about the woods if you’ve never been in them.

Find an Exercise You Like

You can choose any exercise in the world. There will be people in your area that engage in the activity, and they are probably looking for others to join them.

  • Kickball: Adult kickball leagues range from competitive to beer. This was one of the most fun activities I engaged in when I lived in Alaska.
  • Basketball: I started playing basketball in Germany and continued through college and into my mid-thirties. At 5’ 4” with a bad knee, I’m not your typical player, but I enjoyed it.
  • Disc Golf or Frisbee Golf: Frisbee golf is easy. You just need to get a frisbee and find something to throw it at. In college, we used light posts and trees as our goals. Disc golf is a little more serious with courses and specialized throwing discs.
  • Fencing: Swords? Yes, please.
  • Geocaching: Hiking with a destination. High-tech treasure hunting. Get your GPS and get out to find something or just sign your name.
  • Tai Chi: It’s a martial art. It’s slow. It’s easy to motivate me to do Tai Chi.
  • Instinctive Archery: Breathing, stance, and getting in touch with your inner self are all part of the experience. Plus, over the course of an hour, you’ll pull a lot of weight, even with a light bow.
  • Yoga: For me, yoga isn’t that exciting, but it’s something my wife loves. Then I found Cosmic Kids Yoga: storytelling inspired by Disney, Star Wars and more with yoga moves. They make yoga fun.
  • Ballroom and Swing Dancing: Find a group and go. If you’re alone and you’re a guy, don’t worry; there are usually a lot of women willing to dance with a partner they don’t know. Of course, women also dance with each other when no guys are present. Either way, dancing is a good way to work up a sweat. Swing and ballroom dancing just help you look cool doing it.
  • Children’s games: Just because you’re grown up doesn’t mean you can’t play like children do.

When you choose an activity, give it two or three weeks and go at least three times each week. You won’t be good the first couple of times. That’s okay. You’re not supposed to be good at anything the first time. Don’t just do exercise on the weekends. That’s a good way to get injured more easily. Of course, you can always choose more than one activity and you might have your own. It took a couple of weeks before I came up with the idea for looking for videos on Disney Yoga. If you have suggestions for motivating and fun exercises, put them in the comments.

Realize the Benefits

If you know the benefits of exercise and keep them in the forefront of your mind, you’re less likely to skip them. If you want to live longer, better and be healthier, so you can create more and create better while being a part of your friends’ and family’s lives, exercise should be on your list of daily activities.

Have Health Insurance

My lack of health insurance stopped me from playing basketball. I can’t afford to break a leg, blow out a knee or rupture an Achille’s tendon. Having health insurance removes that excuse. It allows you to continue to get the long-term benefits of exercising while mitigating the fear of what could happen if something were to go wrong. I could get hurt walking down the street or going down the stairs, but removing basketball from my exercise regime also limited the possibility of experiencing a catastrophic injury. (And removed one of the places where I was able to socialize.)

Get a Dog

If you’re lucky enough to have space for a pet and live somewhere you can have one, get a medium sized or larger dog, even if you’re more of a cat person. Dogs require you to walk them and play with them. If you take care of your dog in the right way, you’ll also be taking care of yourself. Just be sure that you understand what kind of commitment your making, then go for a walk with your dog for your health.

As always, consult with a physician before you start a new exercise program. If you’re not convinced as to the benefits of exercise, yet, check out “The Secrets to Creativity: Exercise.” For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improving Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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The Secrets to Creativity: Exercise

man and woman jogging near body of water

No matter how many benefits there are or how many good things come from exercise – longer life, better quality of life, stress relief, better health, improved ability to move, less heart disease, better breathing, more energy, and better thinking are just some of them – people are still unable to make the time for even a small amount of exercise every day. It’s gotten so bad that someone recommended losing the remote to the TV, so you would have to get up to change the channel. (Of course, television manufacturers responded by making televisions that won’t work without a remote.)

Not only does exercise give you all of the above-mentioned benefits, it also makes you a better creator. Living longer means you’ll get to create longer as you age. Better thinking means you’ll also be able to think creatively better because they are, in essence the same thing. More energy allows you to create longer during a specific day. Better health means you’ll be able to create during days when you may have otherwise been ill.

If this were all that exercise did, there would be plenty of motivation to get moving. However, Wendy Suzuki in “Quartz” magazine suggests that there is evidence that exercise improves people’s abilities to imagine new situations. Scientific evidence shows that walking and other exercise is good for becoming more creative. Henry David Thoreau is one creator who used exercise to overcome blocks. So, get out, get moving and enjoy your new-found vigor and creativity.

For more about a great exercise secret, become a Penguinator on Patreon and read about how my wife and I found a great yoga program that we both like. Get discounts at our tables at Lilac City Comicon, City Cakes and Café, Ogden UnCon and Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con.

Want to learn more about becoming more creative? Get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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The ABCs of Creativity: Imagination

The ability to conjure of visions of the future or past is essential to the work of imagination, which forms the basis of creativity. With imagination, you can envision anything. Whether it’s a better life, a job with more money, or a purple cat who disappears, your imagination is what you use to think about the future. Imagination can also be used to think about what could happen in the future that isn’t good. So, even if you only think about the worst things that could happen, you’re still using your imagination. The trick in creativity and learning to live a better life is to get the imagination to work for you.

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it” – William Arthur Ward.

If you want to improve your life or the world, you have to know what that means. By imagining a better life, you can plan the steps it takes to get there. By imagining a better world, you can describe it to others, so everyone knows what it will look like and they’ll want to get there. How do you use your imagination better?

  • Write Down Your Dreams: Keeping a dream journal will allow you to harness the imagination that flows when you’re asleep. Keep the journal and a pencil near your bed; write down your dreams before you do anything else.
  • Make a Wish: In “Pure Imagination,” Gene Wilder sings about the world he created. He starts with making a wish. You can do the same. Make a wish, see yourself with the wish, now imagine how you got there.
  • Find a Mentor: Wilder invites the group to come with him and view what he’s created. It’s a jumping off point for a group of arguably unimaginative kids and adults to begin to explore their own imaginations.
  • Track Happy Accidents: Sometimes, you’ll misread or misspeak. Use that to jump into your imagination. Keep it written down.

Of course, imagination isn’t the only thing you need to achieve a better life. You’ll need to work to bring it to life through creativity, innovation, trial, error, and perseverance. For more on creativity, purchase “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Pure Imagination lyrics
Hold your breath.
Make a wish.
Count to three.
[Sung]
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you’ll see
Into your imagination
We’ll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we’ll see
Will defy
Explanation
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing
To it
There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly wish to be
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing
To it
There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

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A Hard Row to Hoe: Cautionary Tales in Creativity

eiffel tower during daytime

Ignaz Semmelweis could be seen as a cautionary tale for creatives. In 1846, he advocated for washing hands before delivering babies, and Vienna General saw an increase in mother and new born survival rates in the clinic where he worked. However, because he didn’t know why handwashing worked, he was derided by the medical and scientific community. He lost his job and his life because the establishment didn’t accept what he saw as common sense. “My way saves lives; of course, everyone should adopt it, even if we don’t know why.”

He was dealing with saving people’s lives and the scientific community. Rather than someone jumping in to test Semmelweis’ theories and find out why it worked or if it was a fluke, Semmelweis’ doctors and colleagues continuously found fault with his idea, even when they didn’t do any experimentation of their own. Not only did Semmelweis end up losing his life, but thousands of women and children died because he couldn’t defend his hypothesis and no one else wanted to check it out to see what the hospital was doing differently. Semmelweis isn’t the only cautionary tale that creatives should think about.

According to Kevin Ashton in “How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery,” Gaston Hervieu tested his parachute in 1909 by throwing a 160-pound dummy off the Eiffel Tower. The dummy floated down to safety. Franz Reichelt was not impressed. Reichelt was working on his own parachute and called Hervieu’s test a sham because he used a dummy. In 1912, Reichelt showed up at the Eiffel Tower, press in tow; he was ready to show off his own parachute, which he was going to test on himself.

Hervieu showed up at the Eiffel Tower to stop Reichelt. Hervieu said the parachute wouldn’t work for technical reasons. Reichelt went up the Eiffel Tower anyway. Experts at the Aero-Club de France had previously told Reichelt his parachute wouldn’t work. Previous experiments that Reichelt did with his parachute had ended in failure; he had broken his leg in one failed attempt to deploy the parachute. Reichelt didn’t listen to his rejectors, which are common when any new idea is presented, and he didn’t learn from his failures. He stuck with the same design and jumped from the Eiffel Tower to plummet to his death.

While Semmelweis would have been well-served if he could’ve ignored the slings and arrows of the ignorant medical community experts of his time and continued with his crusade to persuade them as to the efficacy of handwashing, Reichelt would’ve been better off listening to the critics of his invention and heeding his own failed experiments. Failure and rejection aren’t necessarily bad if we can learn the right lessons from them.

In these cases, one lesson would be to persist in the face of rejection, but learn from it. If Semmelweis had been able to get past his belief that common sense would prevail and started conducting experiments, he may have discovered the germ theory of illness before Pasteur. Another lesson would be to pay attention to your failures. If Reichelt had accepted the reality of failures, he may have been able to make a parachute that would’ve been better than Hervieu’s. Instead, both creators’ deaths can be linked to their innovations.

Being creative isn’t easy. You will be ridiculed. You will be rejected. You just need to keep going and change with every lesson that is dealt to you.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Becoming More Creative for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Handwashing, Change and the New

mother and child washing hands

According to Kevin Ashton’s “How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery,” Ignaz Semmelweis was a doctor at Vienna General in 1846, and the medical community was mired in 2,000-year-old the belief that the body’s health was based on a balance of four fluids: Black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. Vienna General had two maternity clinics. In one, women gave birth with the help of midwives, and both mother and child survived at normal rates for the time. In the other, women gave birth with the help of doctors, and women and children died in droves from puerperal fever. The maternity mortality rate was so high, women were better off giving birth in the street.

The doctors would often go from dissecting cadavers to delivering babies. Semmelweis thought the fever might be transferred from the corpses to the women. He convinced the other doctors to wash their hands, and the deaths in the clinic dropped from 18 percent to two percent, the same percentage as in the clinic with the midwives. In some months, the death rate was zero percent during the two years that Semmelweis was practicing at Vienna General.

In spite of the overwhelming circumstantial evidence and the approximately 500 women, and who knows how many children, whose lives Semmelweis saved through handwashing, his views were rejected. His detractors questioned his scientific method; Semmelweis didn’t run any experiments. They said he didn’t put forth a clear theory; he didn’t know what was responsible for the transfer of disease, he suggested it was some sort of organic material. One American doctor claimed that “A gentleman’s hands are clean” (p. 73) and couldn’t carry disease.

Semmelweis expected common sense to prevail, but at the cost of thousands of women’s and children’s lives, the medical establishment refused to implement handwashing as a standard procedure. The change that Semmelweis proposed challenged the underlying beliefs of the establishment, and those beliefs were too sacred to challenge by a demonstrably better way to do things.

Semmelweis ended up losing job, “being lured to an asylum” and beaten. He died two weeks later, and Vienna General’s doctors stopped washing their hands. Mother and child mortality rates rose by 600 percent.

Semmelweis’ handwashing challenged ingrained and incorrect ideas about the body and health. It challenged ingrained ideas of identity. It challenged the status quo. Semmelweis wasn’t the only one who challenged the establishment, but his story is illustrative of what can happen when people put forth an idea that disturbs the everyday workings of an industry, government or other established organization.

If you still don’t think it’s difficult to change people and culture, many men today don’t wash their hands after using the toilet or urinal in public places where peer pressure should be in effect. They spread disease because they don’t believe germs affect them (and some don’t believe germs are real).

New ideas aren’t readily accepted by anyone, including creators themselves. People always say they want change, but they choose what’s familiar. If you put forth a new idea, be prepared to fight for it and for yourself. Creativity needs fortitude, strength and a healthy dose of wisdom.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improving Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Humor

Bertha in the Elephant Bathing Pool

Edward de Bono says that humor involves the same kind of thought process that creativity does. You’re going along one direction and suddenly the punchline moves you in another direction. The same is true of creativity. People think the thought process is in one direction when someone takes it in another. The move to a creative solution looks like a leap to people outside the process.

Humor improves the business environment by taking down a person’s self-monitoring process. People build up walls to protect themselves and their jobs. These walls are made of monitoring and judging what they do and say. Humor takes down those walls and allows people to be more themselves. When inhibitions and self-monitoring are reduced, creativity can flow.

When Marc Davis joined the Disneyland designed team, he worked on the Jungle Cruise. When the attraction opened in 1955, it was a straight attraction. The skippers would take people through the displays as if they were real. Davis added humorous scenes to the attraction and to the spiel. Davis’ humor is what makes the Jungle Cruise a continually popular, classic attraction. Without Davis’ creativity, the Jungle Cruise may have gone the way of other defunct Disneyland attractions.

The more humor you engage in, the more creative you become. Just be sure that the humor gets others to laugh with you and not at them. Joining an improv group can help guide you to greater humor and creative heights.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Becoming More Creative for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.