Getting to Know Our Members: Brandon Kleyla
The inspiration of and appreciation for Walt Disney knows no boundaries. The Membership at The Walt Disney Family Museum certainly reflects this diversity. Each month, we’ll introduce you to one of our Members, so you can see the varied and frequently fascinating people, who have come together to learn and experience more about the life, work, philosophies, and ideals of Walt Disney. This month, we’d like you to meet Brandon Kleyla.
Florida native, Brandon Kleyla grew up an hour from Walt Disney World and has been a fan of Disney ever since he was first pushed in his stroller through that gateway. He’s been involved with the entertainment business since the age of seven as an actor, director, and writer; he went on to become a prestigious Jungle Cruise Skipper, served as a media editor on The Walt Disney Family Museum exhibit, and is currently a set decorator for Walt Disney Imagineering, where he just finished decorating Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, and is currently working on the Buena Vista Street addition for Disney California Adventure Park.
Recently, our WDFM Membership Coordinator Pam Spedus sat down and had a brief conversation with Brandon about Walt, the Museum, and Membership.
PAM: Why did you become a member of The Walt Disney Family Museum?
BRANDON: Having had the privilege of working on the Museum, it seemed like the next logical step. As a fan of Disney, it’s no different than having an annual pass to one of the parks. It's something you want to be a part of, and I feel there’s always something I can learn from spending a day there.
What do you find most enjoyable about your Membership?
I like knowing that I'm a part of it. By being a Member, you're supporting that cause, and in this case, you're a part of an amazing museum and, in a way, keeping the legacy alive for future generations to really understand who Walt was, and what he did.
What do you enjoy most about our museum?
One of my favorite memories of the Museum is during one trip I was walking down the ramp in gallery and noticed that there was a little bit of congestion. There was traffic on the ramp. Suddenly, as the people continued on, I looked down and there were four young kids lying on the floor, their bodies fitting perfectly across the ramp, and their faces were peeking through the bottom of the glass sides. They were staring at the model of Disneyland. Discussing it, pointing out their favorite attraction, their favorite park memory. Show me any other Museum that kids are that involved in and can relate to in that way.
How does Walt Disney inspire you?
Walt inspires me to always push the envelope a little bit. In any project I work on, either at WDI or even decorating for Halloween, I like to come up with the idea, smooth it out, and then push it further.
What is your first Disney memory?
I think it’s the common answer for anyone from Florida. The first memory I have is being at EPCOT Center, getting in a blue ride vehicle, and then suddenly being “in the clouds” with this amazing flying contraption. The red bearded man talking to me about this thing called Imagination, being at an age where I didn’t know what that meant, and then suddenly coming face-to-face with a little purple dragon. Thought not being a direct connection to Walt, that was when I first knew that "Disney" was something really special. It wasn’t until I grew up that I then realized that Disney wasn’t just a brand, that there was the man as well!
Anything else you would like to share about yourself?
My office at work is truly full of everything that inspires me. I currently have almost 40 incarnations of Figment—plush, PVC, etc… There is also everything else from TaleSpin, Ghostbusters, Psycho, Indiana Jones, and Harry Potter.
Membership in The Walt Disney Family Museum has many benefits, including admission, complimentary film tickets, a quarterly newsletter, and a membership card that grants a 10% discount in the Museum Store—as well as discounts on selected educational and public programs. In addition, several times a year, special events for Members only are held within the Museum itself. You can purchase immediate membership at the Reception and Member Services Desk at the Museum during regular operating hours (Wednesday through Monday, 10:00AM to 6:00PM), or online by clicking here.