It’s a World of Wonder, a World of Steel To the average person, walking through the gates of Walt Disney World near Orlando, FL is akin to being sucked into a vortex of sensory overload. There are oversized furry mice miming their way through conversations with children, teacups wildly being strewn about, and upbeat, singsongy music blanketing the ears of wideeyed visitors. But there is another side to this utopian mega park, a side that is everywhere and nowhere depending on where you are looking, and it involves the "Hidden Mickey." The first Hidden Mickeys were created as an inside joke between Disney employees who ‘hid’ Mickey Mouse’s silhouette in the design and construction of the theme park and resort. There is no concrete number of how many exist, but estimates run well over a thousand. Many people, including Disney’s employees who are dubbed "Imagineers" are on a constant hunt for Hidden Mickeysfor them, that is where the magic lies. Sure the rides and the kingdom and the shows are great, but it is what has been cleverly hidden in the infrastructure of the Magic Kingdom that intimates the essence of fun and wonder of the happiest place on Earth.
About an eight hour drive north from Walt Disney World is Gaffney, SC, and that is where Jeff Whelchel lives. A cursory tour around his property doesn’t hold the same kind of blinding excitement that is found at Disneythere are no princesses walking about or thunderous mountains to scale, but there is magic to be found if you know where to lookin a steel shed that Whelchel bought some 10 years ago. "I needed a good shop for me, my son, and my father to work on some project cars we had purchased," says Whelchel. "We have restored a 1965 Mustang, and although my father has passed away, my son and I have a 1966 Mustang we are currently restoring and a 1995 Ford Truck and a 1955 Oldsmobile that are waiting to be restored."
He says he bought the building from SteelMaster Buildings in Virginia Beach, VA, which has manufactured, designed, and supplied prefabricated arched steel structures to 40,000 customers world wide for more than 29 years. "I went with a local SteelMaster representative and looked at a SteelMaster building that was already functioning as a fresh market," says Whelchel. "When I saw the building, I loved it, and I was sold. I constructed the building myself, along with my father and my son. I also added a masonry bathroom on the back of the building. Once we got the first set of sections in place, plumb and square, the process was quite easy. All the nuts and bolts it required were time consuming, but the excellent construction made it all worthwhile." SteelMaster buildings are known for their durability, versatility, and ease of construction. They are known to withstand hurricanes, never need any maintenance, and for being affordable. But, would anyone go so far as to call the building full of magic or wonder? Whelchel would. "The fact is my father, my son, and I did most of the work ourselves, and the three of us have the same initials," says Whelchel. "When I poured the entrance ramp up, we each put an initial in the concrete that is a reminder of the great times we all shared (along with a lot of sweat)I made the " J ", my son made the " S ", and my father made the "W". Not only did we personalize the building, but it serves as a constant reminder of the great bond we all shared, the memories we made in "OUR" building, and it is a wonderful memorial to my father, whom I love very much." There probably have been many people who have been inside of Whelchel’s SteelMaster building who hadn’t a clue of the "Hidden Mickey" that sat right under their feet because they were too distracted by the unique steel building or the cool cars being restored. But a world of wonder is there in that space, silently telling the story of a love between three generations of men who share a bond stronger than the steel that sheltered their many moments togetherand there isn’t a Fairy Tale around that can tell a story as magical as that. For More Information About Steel Buildings Visit SteelMasterUsa.com