Young Fan Swears She Encountered Walt Disney at the Airport. Turns Out, She Wasn’t Crazy

in Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Featured

A grayscale photo of a smiling man in a suit, resting his face on his hand, is overlaid with the word "Yes" in bright purple with a heart symbol. The background features handwritten text, reminiscent of scenes where girl meets Disney at the airport.

Credit: Inside the Magic

An excitable young fan at Los Angeles International Airport imagined she had encountered the great visionary Walt Disney. She would later learn that she wasn’t losing her mind, after all.

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Black and white photo of people going through customs at an airport. Officials in uniforms inspect luggage on counters while travelers, some in coats and hats, wait nearby. Amidst suitcases and boxes scattered around, a fan encountered Walt Disney, causing a bit of a crazy commotion as a crowd gathers in the background.
Baggage Check at LAX in the 1950s/Credit: Flickr/CNN

Preserving a Lifelong Legacy 

A woman named Becky Cline joined The Walt Disney Company in 1989, but by that time, Walt’s cherished company was already over 65 years old. Her role, however, has made her exceptionally knowledgeable about Walt and his enterprise, as she serves as the corporate director of The Walt Disney Archives.

Related: Walt Disney Archives Coming to Texas Later This Year

As the director of the company’s archives, Cline is responsible for gathering, preserving, and providing access to materials related to the company’s history. She is also dedicated to maintaining the company’s legacy and traditions for future generations.

A wide-angle view of a sprawling building complex with "THE WALT DISNEY ARCHIVES" text overlay in large letters. The buildings are set against a backdrop of brown hills under a clear blue sky, reminiscent of an unexpected airport encounter that every Walt Disney fan swears by. A yellow arrow points to one of the buildings in the complex.
Credit: X/bioreconstruct

The Walt Disney Archives, housed in the Frank G. Wells Building at The Walt Disney Studios, was established in 1970 and holds an extensive collection of artifacts and records.

In September 1997, a significant number of files and artifacts were relocated from storage to a custom-built space on the studio lot. This marked the first time Disney’s historical items had a designated home, facilitating the preservation of the collection, aiding researchers, and displaying historical objects for visitors. This move was particularly exciting for Cline.

A Surprise: The Shock of a Lifetime

Despite her extensive knowledge of the company, Cline occasionally discovers new things, much to her delight. This happened in 2020, during the Walt Disney Archives’ 50th anniversary.

Cline recounts, “When researching in the Archives’ collections, it’s always exciting to uncover interesting pieces of Disney history. One day, while examining Walt Disney’s 1955 correspondence files for a different purpose, I found something remarkable.”

A black and white photograph shows a large castle under construction, surrounded by scaffolding. Workers are on-site, and various construction materials are visible. In the foreground, a man in a suit—reminiscent of Walt Disney—stands observing the progress with keen interest.
Credit: D23

In July 1955, Imagineers were putting the finishing touches on Disneyland, as it was set to open in only days. A 14-year-old girl named Sharon Robinson was at Los Angeles International Airport with her cousin. It’s unclear if she was picking someone up, seeing someone off, or jetting off somewhere herself. She encountered a man who resembled Walt Disney and asked if he was Walt.

The man confirmed he was, but Sharon doubted him, thinking he was joking. So she shrugged it off. But later that night, as she was unable to shake the thought, Sharon wrote a letter to Walt Disney in Burbank to confirm. It read as follows:

I was at the International Airport in Westchester Friday night, July 1st.

I met a man there that looked exactly like you or was you. He said he was you, but I think he was just joking.

To ease my cousin’s and my mind, could you please tell me if you were there with your wife?

It’s signed simply “Sharon Robinson.”

A handwritten note addressed to Mr. Delaney. The writer mentions meeting a man at the International Airport in Winchester on July 1, curious if it was him. The note ends with the writer requesting clarification if the man was indeed Mr. Delaney, reminiscing how a girl meets Disney at the airport. Dated July 2, 1985.
Credit: Walt Disney Archives

The Response That Shook Her to Her Core

Not only did Walt respond, but his reply was humorous and showed his dedication to fans, as he wrote back just hours before Disneyland’s opening.

Walt’s response detailed their airport encounter and mentioned a new television show, The Mickey Mouse Club, debuting in October 1955. His letter, dated July 14, 1955, came just three days before Disneyland opened and read as follows:

Dear Sharon,

Yes, I met a young lady, oh, about fourteen I should say, out at International Airport while I was waiting for my daughter’s plane to arrive.

Mrs. Disney and I were sitting up in the Observation Room and had just had our pictures taken. I noticed a couple of young girls, and one of them said to me:

“You look like Walt Disney,” and I answered, “Yes, I do.” And the young girl continued, “Are you Walt Disney?” and I answered, “Yes.”

As I was leaving, I heard your friend call you “Sharon.” Then I said, “Why, Sharon is my daughter’s name too.”

Now, isn’t this sufficient proof to you and your cousin that I am Walt Disney?

Anyway, don’t forget to watch our Disneyland TV Show every Wednesday night, and, beginning next October, we’re going to have a new television show which will be known as “The Mickey Mouse Club program.” This will be a daily show, Monday through Friday.

It was fun meeting you, and best regards.

Sincerely, Walt Disney

A typed letter dated July 11, 1956, addressed to "Sharon." The letter recounts a humorous encounter at an airport where the author was mistaken for Walt Disney. It ends with a signature, "Miss Sharon Robinson." The text is centered on a white background.
Credit: Walt Disney Archives

What a day it must have been for Sharon and her cousin to finally realize that they had actually had an encounter with the one and only Walt Disney!

in Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Featured

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