For 40 years, Lonnie Morris, CPA has invited his clients into his Plano home to watch them “ooh” and “ahh” over a collection of figurines, toys, stuffed animals, and all things Disney.
This week, for the final time, he will host a private party he calls “Once Every Four-Year Disney Party - That's A Wrap." But there might not be many places for his 700-plus clients to sit. Because the Disney collection now numbers more than 9,000 items.
"I use what I call the ‘Oh wow test,’” Morris said. “And when I see something and I go, ‘Oh wow,’ I’ve gotta get it.”
From the dining room, to the living room, to the den and each of the four bedrooms in his 3,000-square-foot home, nearly every inch of counter space, table space, bookshelves, and a half-dozen Disney-made curio cabinets, Disney collectibles stare at you from every corner.
"I would call this a passion,” he said of the obsession that first gripped him over four decades ago when his honeymoon coincided with the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando.
“We find it perfectly delightful,” he said of the collection that normally numbers in the 7,000’s. He brings out the rest from storage for Christmas.
"Yes sir we do. And we thoroughly enjoy it,” he said.
"I know I'm running out of room. My wife keeps reminding me that I've run out of room,” he laughed, while standing at his dining room table now completely covered with Disney collectibles just for his final Disney party.
"It's a little overwhelming, it is.”
But this overwhelming Disney-fied house is decorated this way for a reason.
“I enjoy sharing the joy of Disney! It just brings that childhood excitement to you," Morris said.
"The reason for this whole collection is my love of Disney, and the passion that I have for Disney, and it's because of his (Walt Disney’s) message."
"From the business standpoint of view, always give the customer more than they expect."
"But what I really love is the message to everyone: live your dreams, whatever that dream may be!’
Lonnie Morris’ dreams included making it to every Disney theme park in the world. He’s done that, and he’s been the grand marshal of the Disney parade several times.
“Except for Shanghai,” he joked. “It just opened so I haven't had the chance to get there yet, but I will!"
His other dream? He wanted to fly an airplane.
"Not only am I flying an airplane, I bought one,” he said. “And I’m having a great time.”
And he wanted to conduct an orchestra. That happened five years ago, the Plano Symphony. They played Fantasia. It was his 60th birthday
"It was the night that dreams are made of,” Morris said.
And one more thing: he wanted all the nooks and crannies filled two miles away at his accounting office, too.
"I call this my gaudy Mickey,” he said of his home in a Plano subdivision. "My office, I call my elegant Mickey."
Elegant…and everywhere. Framed Disney artwork, “big fig” character statues, and a hand-assembled scale replica of Main Street USA in Disneyland, California. But it needed lighting. He installed the LED system himself.
"And you can just see the excitement when people come into my office,” Morris said. “Disney instilled in me 'live your dreams'… and I do!”
As for his biggest dream, I should mention that Lonnie is happily married, 44 years to be exact. Her name is Suzanne. They take a Disney Cruise at least once a year.
"Everything Disney is the glue that has kept my marriage together for 44 years,” he said of the spouse who shares his passion for all things Disney.
"The only thing she cares about is when are we going back to Disney the next time."
And one final thing. The accountant, as you might expect, has a complete list of each of his 9,000 items, when and where he bought them, and how much they’re worth. He will admit that the entire collection, home and office, is also insured. But he won’t say just how much his collection is worth. It's a secret, because it's not for sale.
"It brings me a smile,” he said. “And isn't that what life's about? I'm looking at you I see you smiling.”
So if you see people smiling in a Collin County subdivision, this could be why. Because the happiest place on earth clearly has an outpost in Plano.
"Live your dreams. Live your dreams,” he said with a big smile. “And I have been able to do that. And I love it."
Copyright 2016 WFAA