You might say that Jody Jean Dreyer of Hilton Head Island has the keys to the kingdom.
She was smitten the first time her family piled in the station wagon for the long trip from the Midwest to the brand new Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
She was a kid then, but that visit magically transformed into her life’s work. She did everything from summer jobs dancing to serving as “air traffic controller” for all of Disney’s corporate divisions as head of “synergy.” She held 22 different positions in 30 years.
“Jody has excelled in every job she’s held at the company. No one better embodies the Disney spirit,” former chairman and CEO Michael Eisner says on the dust jacket of her new book.
Jody and her husband, John, retired head of corporate communications for Disney, moved to Hilton Head for the same reason Jody first went to Disney World: to be with family.
She came when her late father got sick. Wayne Carbiener was active in Sea Pines and served on the Beaufort County Board of Education. Her mother, Jacque, started the Sea Pines Women’s Club and is the outgoing volunteer behind the jewelry counter every Saturday at The Church Mouse thrift boutique sponsored by the St. Luke’s Church.
On Saturday, Jody will join her mother as the shop hosts a celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the new book, published by Harper Collins/Zondervan. All book sales will benefit the Church Mouse, which gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities and church missions.
My favorite part of the book — much of it written while swilling soda at The Smokehouse restaurant on the island — comes at the end. She tells about the challenges of great changes in life — especially the happily ever after part, where you leave your storybook career and suddenly feel detached from the magic.
Jody, like so many others, passed through that hallway of change on Hilton Head. Some of her tips:
▪ “Peek back, but only peek.”
Yes, there’s a longing for the past. “Expect it, embrace it and savor what was, all the while moving ahead.”
She framed a line once given to her by a friend: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
And, Jody writes, “The rearview mirror is smaller than the windshield for a reason.”
▪ “Perspective is everything.”
“Even though much of my life was interwoven with Mickey Mouse and company, Disney didn’t define me. Jody was still Jody.”
▪ “Possibilities abound with an expectant heart.”
“Explore, discover, and find new outlets for your interests and passions. You may even discover new purpose. For me, transition is a mind-set, a gift.”
Her book takes on the idea that the magic behind the Magic Kingdom is not really magic at all. It is something each of us can do.
She is often asked the secret behind Disney’s success.
“To me,” she said, “it is PSA.”
The “P” is for people: the “cast members” both visible and behind the scenes, and all the people who come to experience Disney magic. Her favorite quote from Walt Disney is: “You can dream, create and design the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
“S” is for story. Disney was a master at telling a story, she said. But each of us has a story, full of villains and heroes, ups and downs, tears and laughter. The secret is how we live our story.
And “A” is for attention to detail. Across all its platforms, Disney paid meticulous attention to detail to assure the customer a consistent level of quality. Her book tells that trash cans in Walt Disney World are no more than 30 steps apart. That’s detail.
“Happily ever after is attainable,” Jody said, “starting today, right now.”
If you go
- What: Author and Sea Pines resident Jody Carbiener Dreyer will host a book celebration featuring her Harper-Collins/Zondervan book, “Beyond The Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After” about her 30-year career with Disney.
- When: Saturday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Where: The Church Mouse, 78 Arrow Road on Hilton Head Island. All book sale proceeds at Dreyer’s appearance will benefit the thrift store.