Show Hide
Little Mermaid Paint the Night Parade

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Randy Bright

posted on June 13th, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

As the Sailing Ship Columbia marks another anniversary this weekend, I am reminded of Randy Bright – former attractions cast member who started on the Columbia and rose through the ranks to become Executive Producer, Disneyland and Walt Disney World Theme Parks.

Randy was hired the summer of 1959 and later recalled, “As a college undergraduate, I had enlisted in the Navy – the Disneyland Navy – and was scheduled for active duty aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia, the newest vessel to ply Frontierland’s Rivers of America.” Randy subsequently worked on nearly every attraction in the park, even roaming Tomorrowland as a costumed spaceman.

Born in Long Beach, Calif., in 1938, Randy attended California State University, Fullerton, earning a B.A. in political science. It was at this time that Randy met his wife, Pat, then a Disneyland tour guide, while both were working in the park.

In 1965, Randy moved into a full-time position with the Disney University, where he specialized in publications and audio-visual presentations. In 1968, Disney Legend Marty Sklar, former Executive Vice President and Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) ambassador, brought Randy to WDI as a staff writer, working on shows for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. From 1973 to 1976, he was manager of Employee Communications at the Florida Disney University, after which he returned to California to lead the WDI Communications department.

Beginning in 1979, Randy served as director of scripts and show development, where he functioned as Executive Producer of film projects for Epcot Center, Tokyo Disneyland and other Disney Theme Park projects. In 1983, he was promoted to Vice President, Concept Development, responsible for overseeing the development of all major shows and attractions for Disney Parks. In 1987, he was named Executive Producer, Disneyland and Walt Disney World Theme Parks.

“I don’t think even Walt could have created a more quintessential believer in the Disney traditions than Randy Bright,” said Marty Sklar. “His growth from a Jungle Cruise guide and costumed spaceman at Disneyland to the top creative position at Walt Disney Imagineering is the stuff of storybook legends. He was a true dreamer and doer.”

For nearly two years, Randy researched, developed, and wrote the 1987 book, “Disneyland: The Inside Story,” an Imagineer’s-eye view of the first Disney park. He also served as Coordinating Producer on “The Disneyland Story,” an hour-long special for the Disney Channel.

On June 14, 1988, exactly 30 years after the original opening/christening of the Sailing Ship Columbia, the ship was re-christened by Randy and Ron Dominguez (then Vice President of Disneyland and chairman of the park operating committee). According to an article in the Disneyland Line (a Cast Member publication), “attempts to break the customary bottle of champagne over her bow were futile. The solution was to remove the cork, and let the well-agitated wine shoot over the bow. It was a little messy, but the deed was done and the Columbia was wished well on her future Magic Kingdom voyages.”

Tragically, on May 29, 1990, Randy was struck while bicycling near his home in Yorba Linda, Calif., and passed away.

NRI869563THUMB bri739992THUMB

In 1991, Randy was honored with a set of windows above Disney Clothiers. The windows state: (left) Photographic Studio, C. “Randy” Bright, Proprietor and (right) Photographic Studio, “Bright Views to Order.”

Randy was named a Disney Legend in 2005.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Bill Evans

posted on May 6th, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

In the early 1950s, “green-thumbed” brothers Morgan (known as Bill) and Jack Evans were hired to landscape the grounds of Walt Disney’s Holmby Hills home and the gardens surrounding his backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific. In 1954, they received the ultimate challenge when Walt asked, “How about you fellows landscaping Disneyland for me?”

With little time and money, the brothers were creative when transforming the 80 acres of orange groves in Anaheim, Calif. “Walt told me we were all out of loot and that the time had come to put Latin names on the weeds,” said Bill. They also salvaged trees that were slated for removal during construction of the new freeway system in Southern California and planted them in Disneyland.

Sadly, Jack suffered a heart attack two weeks after Disneyland opened and subsequently passed away three years later. Bill went on to become the director of landscape architecture, working on additions to Disneyland and the master plan for Walt Disney World Resort and Epcot Center in Florida.

Born on June 10, 1910, in Santa Monica, Calif., Bill was a third-generation horticulturist. His first botanical classroom was his father’s three-acre garden that was filled with exotic plants, including 150 varieties of hibiscus. In 1928, Bill joined the Merchant Marine. Upon his return from duty, Bill went to Stanford University where he majored in geology. In 1931, he helped transform his father’s garden into a nursery business – Evans and Reeves Landscaping. Their inventory of rare and exotic plants soon caught the attention of Hollywood celebrities such as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor and, ultimately, Walt Disney.

Bill Evans Surveys Construction at Jungle Cruise

Bill was known not only for using unusual plants, but for using plants in unusual ways. As Imagineer Terry Palmer explained, “In the Jungle Cruise, there’s a group of orange trees that most people would never recognize because Bill planted them upside-down. He decided the gnarled roots of the orange trees looked like suitably exotic jungle branches.”

In 1975, Bill retired but continued to consult on landscape design for Tokyo Disneyland. He consulted on the schematic designs for Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Discovery Island, Typhoon Lagoon, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. He also helped select plants for Disneyland Paris and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Morgan "Bill" Evans

Bill was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., above the Opera House, in 1990. The window reads: Evans Gardens, Exotic & Rare Species, Freeway Collections, Est. 1910, Morgan (Bill) Evans, Senior Partner.

Bill was named a Disney Legend in 1992. He died on August 16, 2002, at the age of 92. He was posthumously awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects Medal for his lifetime of achievements.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Milt Albright

posted on April 17th, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

With the passing of Disney Legend Milt Albright last week, I thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to him and highlight a few of the many successes of his 45-year career with Disney.

(April 11, 2013)  Main Street Windows (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Milt always said his luckiest day was June 19, 1947 – the day he achieved his goal to work for Walt Disney. It all started 10 years earlier, in December 1937, when he saw a Time magazine cover story featuring fellow Missourian, Walt Disney. He knew then and there that it was his destiny to work for The Walt Disney Company.

Milt was born in Kearney, Mo., on June 7, 1916. He was the oldest of three boys and grew up on the family farm north of Kansas City. When Milt was a young man, a friend of his father paid him to deliver a car to Los Angeles. He fell in love with the area and decided to make Southern California his home.

Milt joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1947 as a junior accountant. Working in the Payroll Department, he was entrusted with the job of preparing and delivering paychecks for top executives, which brought him into direct contact with both Walt and Roy Disney.

By 1953, the self-described “poor accountant” had another goal – he wanted to be involved with the development of Walt’s new “amusement” park in Anaheim. In an attempt to gain attention from Walt, Milt, an automobile buff, designed a miniature car using a 1954 Corvette as his model for what would eventually become the Autopia attraction. Walt was intrigued by the fiberglass auto and took it for a drive before Milt could explain that it was not finished – it had no brakes.

“Well, Walt crashed into a wall to stop it and the body of the car split in half like a walnut,” Milt recalled in a 1987 interview with the Anaheim Bulletin. While Walt was not impressed with the car, he did take note of Milt.

In the spring of 1954, Milt was hired as manager of accounting for Disneyland. “I got to come down here because they wanted somebody they could trust,” said Milt. “Didn’t have to be very smart – just honest.” Milt hung a framed organizational chart in his office that was the first such chart for the park. It was dated July 1, 1954, and had 17 “employees” on it including Milt, Walt and Ron Miller, who eventually became president of Walt Disney Productions.

In 1957, Milt became manager of Holidayland, a private party and picnic area (near the area that is now Critter Country) designed for group events. In 1958, he transferred to Group Sales where he founded one of the most innovative and successful in-house marketing programs ever conceived. It was called the Magic Kingdom Club, and it offered discounts and special admission tickets to card holders. At its peak, the Magic Kingdom Club boasted nearly 6 million members associated with more than 30,000 companies worldwide. Milt also extended the private party concept to Grad Nite. The first Grad Nite, held on June 15, 1961, was one night only with about 8,000 graduates from 30 local high schools in attendance. The Grad Nite program continues to be successful today and remains a popular tradition for many Southern California graduates.

In the late 1970s, Milt became manager of special projects for Marketing. He was later promoted to manager of Guest Communications, a position he held until his retirement in 1992.

Upon his retirement on July 17, 1992, Milt said, “I had the enormous good fortune to be hired by the finest entertainment company in the world. I believed it then, and I believe it still. Based on a lifetime with Disney, I would say with great conviction to any young person that you’ll never find a better place to start. Tough out the lean early years, learn Disney teamwork and don’t be afraid to innovate … to come up with new ideas. I’ve had 45 years of challenge and some success in Marketing because I took a chance and built an Autopia prototype car for Walt.”

Milt was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., in 1992. The window, located above The Mad Hatter, highlights Milt’s innovative business sense and his ambition to take on any project: Milt Albright, Entrepreneur, “No Job Too Big – No Job Too Small.”

Milt was named a Disney Legend in 2005 for his significant contributions to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He passed away on April 7, at the age of 97.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Frank Wells

posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

Frank Wells joined The Walt Disney Company as president and chief operating officer in September 1984. He was known throughout the company as a friendly, kind soul who was always approachable and open to ideas. He and Michael Eisner, chairman and chief executive at the time, were a great team. Their working relationship is often likened to that of Walt and Roy Disney; Frank handling the details and Michael in the public eye. It was a true partnership.


During Frank’s 10-year tenure with Disney, the company experienced unprecedented growth and revitalization. Annual revenues rose from $1.5 billion to $8.5 billion. Disney stock prices increased by 1,500 percent, and the theme park and resort revenues tripled. Disney Consumer Products revenues rose 13-fold and Disney film entertainment revenues jumped 15-fold. Michael and Frank, along with studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg, helped make Disney one of the most successful film studios in the world and re-established its dominance in animated feature films with a series of hits that included “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.”

As a key supporter of Disneyland Paris, Frank expanded the company’s international presence. In 1994, Michael Eisner said, “Fortunately for all of us at Disney, Frank was a buccaneer in the office. He was smart, prudent, a dealmaker and a great closer. He was always supportive of a great idea, whether it was swans on the outside of a building or ‘ducks’ for the name of a hockey team.”

Frank was born on March 4, 1932, in Coronado, California. He was the son of a naval officer and spent his childhood on Navy bases in California and on the East Coast. He graduated from Pomona College and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in jurisprudence. He then served two years in the United States Army, attaining the rank of first lieutenant, before attending Stanford Law School.

Frank worked hard and played hard. He was an environmental enthusiast and an avid mountain climber. In 1983, he set out to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents within a single year. He scaled six, but weather forced him to turn back near the top of Mount Everest. His mountaineering exploits are chronicled in his book, “Seven Summits,” published in 1986. There is a tribute to Frank and his love of mountain climbing in the Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction at Disneyland park, where mountain climbing equipment bearing the name “Wells Expedition” can be seen.

On April 3, 1994, Frank Wells died in a helicopter accident in Nevada; he was 62 years old. A building at The Walt Disney Studios was later dedicated in his memory. The Frank G. Wells building opened in 1998, with a ceremonial ribbon cutting by his wife Luanne and Michael Eisner. Beside the building’s entrance, a plaque contains a quote that Frank carried on a slip of paper inside his pocket for thirty years: “Humility is the final achievement.”

Frank was named a Disney Legend in 1994. He was also honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., above Disneyana. His window, dedicated in 1996, pays homage to his love of adventure: Seven Summits Expeditions, Frank G. Wells, President, “For Those Who Want To Do It All.”

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Claude Coats

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

Grand Canyon Diorama at Disneyland Park

Today marks the 56th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama on what was then called the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad. In 1955, Claude Coats was one of the elite artists and designers Walt Disney selected to help bring Disneyland to life, and he later worked on the development of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World Dioramas for the park.

Born January 17, 1913, in San Francisco, Calif., Claude graduated from the University of Southern California in 1934 with an architecture and fine arts degree. He went on to study at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles before joining the Walt Disney Studio as a background painter in June 1935.

During his time at the Studio, Claude created stunning watercolor background paintings for “Pinocchio” which continue to be heralded by Disney scholars, fans and art collectors for the rich and textured beauty they lend to the classic film. He also developed backgrounds and color stylings for many iconic animated features such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Fantasia,” “Dumbo,” “The Three Caballeros,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan,” and “Lady and the Tramp.”

Claude stood 6-feet, 6-inches tall and was known as a “gentle giant” with a warm wit and a wonderful disposition. He once recalled how Walt used to joke with him about his height. Claude said, “When the Disneyland Stagecoach was completed at the Studio, Walt and a driver were giving rides around the lot, but he wouldn’t let me get in. He said I spoiled the scale.”

While working at the Studio, Claude met his wife Evelyn Henry, an inker in the Ink and Paint Department. The couple married in July 1937 and had two sons, Alan and Lee.


In 1955, Claude joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as a show designer for Disneyland. He referred to this as his “second career” at Disney. In addition to the Dioramas, Claude worked on Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Submarine Voyage, among others. Claude also contributed to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair attractions, including Magic Skyway, Carousel of Progress, and “it’s a small world.”

After 54 years with Disney, Claude retired in November 1989. Marty Sklar, Disney Legend, former executive vice president and Walt Disney Imagineering ambassador, later recalled, “Claude paved the way in turning sketches and paintings into three-dimensional adventures. His energy, curiosity and drive to create new experiences for our Disney park guests made him a leader and a teacher for all of us. He was a genuine one-of-a-kind.”

Claude was named a Disney Legend in 1991. He passed away on January 9, 1992, in Los Angeles.

(April 11, 2013)  Main Street Windows (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Claude’s window, located above the Emporium, is a tribute to his name and large stature: Coats & Co., Claude Coats, Proprietor, Big and Tall Sizes for Gentlemen.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Sam McKim

posted on March 3rd, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

Sam McKim, Disney artist and “master map maker,” is the creator of the Disneyland souvenir maps that were sold in Disneyland park between 1958 and 1964. His maps, known for their elaborate design, colorful print and large size, are among the most sought-after pieces of Disney memorabilia today.

Disneyland Park Map Created by Sam McKim, Courtesy of the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1924, Sam moved to Los Angeles with his family during the Great Depression. At age 10, he became a child actor under contract for Republic Studios where he worked in western serials and B-movies with many of the top stars of the day. Sam developed his drawing skills early on and once said, “I was always drawing something or other. I’d draw caricatures of the actors and they would sign them for me.”

After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Sam enrolled at Art Center College of Design. The day after he graduated, he was called back to the Army to serve in Korea, where he earned several medals and honors, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Bronze Star. Upon returning to the States, he took acting roles as well as advanced art classes at the Chouinard Art Institute. Sam recalled, “John Ford offered me a supporting lead in ‘The Long Gray Line’ with Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara. Would you believe I turned it down to become an artist? I started at 20th Century Fox, then moved to Disney for a temp job, and didn’t leave until I retired 32 years later.”

Sam joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as an illustrator in 1954, six months before the opening of Disneyland Resort. Among his first sketches was The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland. He later contributed to “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. His early work also included storyboards for Disney films including, “Nikki, Wild Dog of the North,” “Big Red,” and “The Gnome-Mobile,” and episodes of Disney’s television series, “Zorro.”

John Hench, Disney Legend and Imagineer, once said, “Sam was the greatest to work with. He loved Disney, and his enthusiasm was always contagious. Once he got involved in anything, no matter how problematic, you always knew everything was going to be okay. If I ever needed to hear the truth about something, I always went to Sam.”

Following his retirement in 1987, Sam remained connected with WDI and Disney. In addition to appearances at Disney fan events and consulting work, his two sons, Matt and Brian, were also renowned Disney artists. In 1992, he designed the commemorative guide map for the opening of Disneyland Paris.


Sam was named a Disney Legend in 1996. That same year he was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A. His window, located above the Main Street Photo Supply Co., states: Cartography Masterworks – Sam McKim – Map Maker of the Kingdom – There’s Magic in the Details.

Sam passed away at the age of 79, on July 9, 2004.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Marc and Alice Davis

posted on February 14th, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park


As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to highlight the only married couple who have each been honored with their own windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park – Marc and Alice Davis. Married in 1956, the couple is said to have enjoyed a “Disney fairy-tale-romance-come-true” for 44 years until Marc’s death in 2000. Their windows, which are a tribute to their outstanding contributions to Disneyland, are side-by-side just north of the Main Street Cinema as a representation of their lifelong partnership.

Marc and Alice first met at the renowned Chouinard Art Institute, which was a training ground for many Disney artists. Marc was an instructor and Alice was a student. Marc joined the Disney Studio in 1935 as an assistant animator, and later became an Imagineer. He was also a member of the elite group referred to as Walt’s “Nine Old Men.” Marc dedicated his creative genius to helping Walt bring his ideas to life. When reflecting on his years at Disney, Marc once said, “I rarely felt confined to the animation medium. I worked as an idea man and loved creating characters, whether they be for animation or any other medium.”

Marc is probably best known as the father of some of Disney’s most memorable animated women, including Cruella De Vil from “101 Dalmatians,” Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty,” and Tinker Bell from “Peter Pan.” When asked to choose a favorite among his creations, Marc replied, “Each of my women characters has her own unique style; I love them all in different ways.”

Disney Legend Marc Davis

Marc also contributed story and character concepts to Disneyland attractions such as Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, “it’s a small world,” Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise.

During this time, Alice was making a name for herself as the original “designing woman” at Walt Disney Imagineering. She collaborated with art director and Disney Legend Mary Blair on the “it’s a small world” attraction for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Alice researched, designed and supervised the creation of more than 150 highly detailed costumes for the Audio-Animatronics children of the world. Later she translated pirate attire from her husband Marc’s original drawings into clothing designs and patterns for Pirates of the Caribbean in 1965. Alice once recalled with a gleam in her eye, “I went from sweet little children to dirty old men over night.”

While both retired in 1978, Marc continued to lend his expertise to the development of Epcot Center and Tokyo Disneyland, and Alice continued as a consultant. Marc was named a Disney Legend in 1989 and Alice in 2004. They were also long-time supporters of the California Institute of the Arts, which was founded by Walt Disney.

Marc’s window reflects his personal passion for primitive art: “Far East Imports – Exotic Art – Marc Davis – Proprietor”; while Alice’s window highlights her role: “Small World Costume Co. – Alice Davis – Seamstress to the Stars.”

At the dedication of her window on May 10, 2012, Alice stated, “All things good you have to wait a while for. After 83 years, I got my wish.”

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Cicely Rigdon

posted on January 2nd, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

With the passing of Cicely Rigdon on December 31, Disneyland lost a dear friend, a beloved leader and a legend. Cicely will be fondly remembered by those who were fortunate enough to know her, and her legacy will live on through those who continue to uphold the high standards and traditions she established.

From the beginning, Cicely knew that Disneyland was the place for her and she told a funny story about the day she was hired. “When they first opened the park,” Cicely recalled, “I made five attempts to get a job. The fifth time, I was finally hired, and I was so excited I came home and drove my car through the garage!”

Cicely began her career at Disneyland in 1957 as a ticket seller. In 1959, she joined the Tour Guide Department and was responsible for initiating its growth and development. She eventually became the supervisor of Guest Relations and was known for hiring the “cream of the crop” and leading a top-notch team of hosts and hostesses. In 1967, Cicely’s responsibilities were expanded to include the ticket sellers and ticket receptionists. She was also responsible for Walt’s apartment above the Main Street Fire Station, and was therefore known as the “Keeper of the Keys.”


Beginning in 1982, Cicely led the Disneyland Ambassador Program. In this role Cicely worked with 13 Disneyland Ambassadors who represented Disneyland around the world. She retired as manager of the Ambassador Program in 1994, after 37 years at Disneyland.

Cicely remembered her years at Disneyland and Walt with great fondness. “Walt was just a very decent, very nice man,” she once said. “And I believe that is reflected in all of us here at Disneyland, and that this place for family and fun and decency is what it’s all about.”


Following her retirement in 1994, Cicely was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A. The window, located above Disney Showcase, states: Ambassador Finishing School – Cicely Rigdon – Instructor.

Cicely was named a Disney Legend in 2005.

Since her retirement, Cicely kept in touch with her Disneyland friends, former cast members and ambassadors. She also continued to attend the Ambassador ceremonies, with her presence being a highlight for those who loved and revered her. She holds a special place in our hearts and is an important part of Disneyland history – she will be missed greatly.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Windows at Disneyland Park: Fess Parker

posted on December 16th, 2013 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

In 1954, Fess Parker donned a coonskin cap to play the historical character Davy Crockett for a three-part Walt Disney television show: “Davy Crockett Indian Fighter,” “Davy Crockett Goes to Congress” and “Davy Crockett at the Alamo.” As a result, Fess became an instant celebrity. And when Disneyland Resort opened on July 17, 1955, his appearance on horseback in character as Davy Crockett, was a huge crowd pleaser.

Fess Parker Riding Horses with Walt Disney at Disneyland Park

Fess had great appeal, and to a generation of television fans he will always be remembered as Davy Crockett. The coonskin hat, the hit song, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” Davy Crockett bubble gum cards and comic books were all very popular. More than forty years later, in 1997, Fess described the profound influence his popular character had on young viewers. “Folks tell me over and over how much that character shaped their lives,” he said. “I have to believe that the impact of those programs was due as much to the values inculcated in them as to their entertainment quality.”

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, on August 16, 1924, Fess grew up on a farm in San Angelo, Texas. He went on to study law and business administration at the University of Texas, where he was also an athlete prior to graduating in 1950. He then moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, studying drama at the University of Southern California. Shortly thereafter, he made his film debut in “Untamed Frontier.”

In 1954, Walt Disney saw Fess in the science fiction film “Them!” and quickly signed him to a studio contract. He went on to star in other Disney films such as “Westward Ho the Wagons!” “The Great Locomotive Chase,” “Old Yeller” and “The Light in the Forest.” He also starred in two additional Davy Crockett television shows, “Davy Crockett’s Keelboat Race” and “Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.” Much later, in 1978, Fess appeared in “NBC Salutes the 25th Anniversary of the Wonderful World of Disney.”

After Davy Crockett, Fess tried the frontiersman role once again in the TV series “Daniel Boone,” where he played the starring role for six years. Fess retired from Hollywood in 1973 and went on to become a successful businessman and real estate developer. Fess founded the Fess Parker Family Winery and Vineyards in Los Olivos, Calif., where he could often be found signing his autograph for wine lovers and Disney fans alike.

Fess Parker Receives Tribute Window at Disneyland Park, 2004

Fess was named a Disney Legend in 1991. And on December 15, 2004, the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the Davy Crockett television show, he was honored with a window at Disneyland park. Appropriately located in Frontierland, above Bonanza Outfitters, the window’s inscription reads: Davy Crockett, Coonskin Cap Co., Fess Parker – Proprietor.

Fess died on March 18, 2010, at his home near Santa Barbara, Calif.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Herb Ryman

posted on December 2nd, 2013 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

On a Saturday morning in September 1953, Walt Disney stood over the shoulder of artist Herb Ryman as he sketched an idea for an amusement project that would appeal to both children and adults. Walt’s brother Roy was going to New York that Monday to line up financing for Disneyland and he wanted Roy to “show” them what he planned to build.

Disneyland Concept Art Designed by Disney Legend Herb Ryman

Over a single weekend, which became known as the “lost weekend,” Herb used a small carbon pencil to illustrate Walt’s dreams on paper. Within two years, those dreams were transformed into reality and Disneyland became the first theme park of its kind in the world.

Herbie, as he was called by friends and co-workers, had an uncanny ability to interpret Walt’s ideas into drawings. Marty Sklar, former vice chairman and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), once said, “Herbie was like our own little Tinker Bell at WDI. He was always sprinkling pixie dust on everyone and he never grew up. He had a tremendous curiosity for everything and everybody.”
New Orleans Square Rendering Designed by Disney Legend Herb Ryman

Herb first met Walt Disney in Los Angeles at a gallery exhibit of his work. Walt was so impressed with the paintings on display that he invited Herb to join the Walt Disney Studio. While Herb went on to serve as an art director for such feature-length animated classics as “Fantasia” and “Dumbo,” Disneyland became the centerpiece of his Disney career. Among his contributions were designs for Main Street, U.S.A., Sleeping Beauty Castle and New Orleans Square. Herb also contributed concepts for the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and for attractions featured at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, including Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

Herb retired in 1971 only to return a few years later as a full-time consultant, sketching numerous conceptual drawings for Epcot Center. His work for that park included detailed park renderings as well as inspirational paintings for The American Adventure and the China Pavilion, among others. He also developed the popular Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World Resort and the Meet the World attraction at Tokyo Disneyland.

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Herb Ryman

Herb shares a window with two other talented Disney artists, John Hench and Peter Ellenshaw. Their window, which simply states, “Plaza School of Art – Instructors,” is actually located on Plaza Street (adjacent to Main Street, U.S.A.) above Main Street Photo Supply Co.

Herb passed away on February 10, 1989, while still working on ideas for Disneyland Paris. He was named a Disney Legend in 1990.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort