A few months ago, I had a special opportunity to photograph Walt Disney’s apartment located above the Main Street Fire Station for the Disneyland archive. I know many guests have stood on Main Street, U.S.A., and looked up at the apartment window to see that the lamp has been left on in Walt’s memory. Today, in honor of Walt’s birthday, I’d like to share one of my favorite photos taken that day – showing the view as he would have seen it, looking out that very window.
posted on December 5th, 2013 by Paul Hiffmeyer, Chief Photographer for Public Relations, Disneyland Resort
posted on December 5th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
Today, we celebrate the man who started it all, Walt Disney. Back in 2001, Walt Disney World Resort celebrated what would have been Walt’s 100th birthday during the yearlong 100 Years of Magic Celebration.
Characters, guests and cast members all gathered at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to cut a giant 25-by-17-foot cake (made up of 100 sheet cakes) to celebrate. Happy Birthday, Walt!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
posted on December 2nd, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager
In the 1941 film “Dumbo,” there’s a scene in which the circus comes to town in a big way – by parading through the streets and offering a glimpse at fun that awaited would-be customers in the big top. In the scene, the procession includes exotic camels, colorful clowns, Dumbo and more.
In 1979, Walt Disney Entertainment brought a parade inspired by this scene to life at Magic Kingdom Park in the form of Dumbo’s Circus Parade, with famous (and a few long-lost) Disney characters taking up circus roles. The train from Dumbo, Casey Jr., rolled down the parade path, with Winnie the Pooh waving from the caboose. A large three-ring circus float followed with Mickey Mouse dressed as the ringmaster, Minnie Mouse as a lovely aerialist, Donald as a snake charmer and Goofy as circus weightlifter. The circus ended with the clown headquarters, an Engine House float, moving down the line.
Do you remember this parade? Tell us what you enjoyed about it in the “Comments” section below.
For more from the “Step In Time” series, click the links below:
posted on November 28th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
posted on November 27th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager
Earlier today, Magic Kingdom Park reached a milestone in Disney history when the park’s final touch point entry system was unveiled at the park – a moment that signified that all Walt Disney World Resort park entrances are now turnstile free.
The first park to trade turnstiles for touch point entries was Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, which became the first turnstile-free park in late February. Similar replacements have taken place at parks across Walt Disney World property throughout the year, making it easier than ever for guests – especially large groups, or families with strollers or wheelchairs – to enter the park together. To enter a park, guests now simply touch their ticket media, Annual Pass or MagicBand (in testing) to the touch point on their way into the park. Cast members are still stationed at entrances to greet guests and assist when needed.
One of those cast members is Awilda Martinez, who has worked at the main entrance of Magic Kingdom Park for more than 30 years, and has personally seen the difference the new touch point entry system has made for guests visiting the park.
“The guests love the new entrances. It’s all been positive. Even children get a smile on their face when they see the green light. They’ve never seen anything like this before in their lives!”
posted on November 25th, 2013 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort
Remember that when the Disneyland Monorail opened in 1959, it was intended as a sightseeing experience rather than a mode of transportation. Then in June 1961, the Disneyland Monorail became the transportation link that we know and love today. The track was extended to cover a total of 2.5 miles, linking the Disneyland Hotel to Tomorrowland in Disneyland park. Not only was the track extended, but a new fleet of Mark II monorails was introduced, featuring four cars each, instead of three found on the Mark I. Also, the gold monorail joined the red and blue monorails in the family. With the Mark II, the iconic bubble dome on the top of the front car was enlarged.
With the addition of the Disneyland Hotel station, guests had the option to purchase two different types of tickets. They could purchase the traditional ticket to Disneyland park and disembark in Tomorrowland or they could stay on for a round trip!
The Mark II monorails transported guests for several years until a whole new fleet arrived in 1969! But that story is for the next installment in our series.
What are some of your favorite Disneyland Monorail memories?
posted on November 19th, 2013 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort
Today we learned of the passing of Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller. Upon learning the sad news, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Diane Disney Miller. She is remembered by Disney fans around the world as the beloved daughter of Walt Disney, and one who graciously shared her family history and personal memories of her father.”
“Diane was a fierce guardian of her father’s legacy who never hesitated to set the record straight, opening The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco to bring her father’s fascinating story to life. In our many conversations over the years, Diane’s unique and special perspective about her father only deepened my considerable appreciation for him. Diane was incredibly generous in that regard, freely sharing her personal insights and providing details that deepened our knowledge, and we remain grateful for her many valuable contributions to our efforts to preserve Disney history. She and her sister, Sharon, have long been recognized as Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland, a place he created for families to have fun together. For that reason and many others, Diane will always have a special place in our company’s legacy and in the hearts of fans.”
“She was also known for her philanthropic efforts, including playing an integral role in the development of the renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to ensure the creation of a unique venue bearing her father’s name that she believed would be “a wonderful thing for the city, for the spirit, for the soul.”
“Diane was the wife of former Disney CEO Ron Miller, as well as mother to their seven children, Christopher, Joanna, Tamara, Jennifer, Walter, Ronald and Patrick. She also had 13 grandchildren and had the great joy of recently welcoming her first great-grandchild into the world. We send our sincere condolences to the entire family and our thoughts remain with them during this difficult time.”
Last year, at the Disneyland Resort, we had an opportunity to meet Diane and take some photographs of her and her family as they visited Disney California Adventure park for the first time since its expansion. Spending a little time with her was a thrill for all of us.
Upon seeing the Storytellers statue, Diane remarked with a sparkle in her eye that she didn’t remember him being this young, saying, “He was older when I met him!”
Among our favorite photos of Diane and the Disney family is this special moment captured during Walt and Lillian’s wedding anniversary celebration in The Golden Horseshoe, just four days before the grand opening of Disneyland park — her father’s dream that she and her sister Sharon inspired years earlier on that day when their dad watched them play from a nearby park bench.
posted on November 18th, 2013 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park
Twenty years ago, on November 18, 1993, the “Partners” statue was dedicated at Disneyland park. Blaine Gibson, Disney Legend, sculptor and animator, is the creator of this bronze statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse standing hand-in-hand in the Central Hub at Disney Parks around the world. Blaine made the figure of Walt “larger than life” – roughly 6 feet, 5 inches tall. In reality, Walt was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall.
Born February 11, 1918, in Rocky Ford, Colorado, Blaine attended Colorado University but left school to join The Walt Disney Studios in 1939. While working as an inbetween artist and assistant animator, he took evening classes in sculpture at Pasadena City College. Among his animation credits are “Fantasia,” “Bambi,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “101 Dalmatians,” just to name a few.
After animating all day, Blaine would go home at night and sculpt; it had been a favorite hobby of his since childhood. In 1954, Walt Disney happened to see one of Blaine’s art exhibits and recruited him to work on special projects for his new theme park, Disneyland.
Blaine was somewhat ambivalent about being diverted from his goal of establishing himself as one of the Studio’s foremost animators. As he recalled in 1995, “I didn’t think it was that important, but then I was told Walt was expecting me to work on these projects. So I said to myself, ‘what the heck’ and went (to Walt Disney Imagineering). I was never sorry after that.”
At first, Blaine divided his time between sculpting and animating, but in 1961, he transferred full-time to the design and development division to supervise the newly created sculpture department. Ultimately, Blaine went on to make a name for himself in 3D animation, creating hundreds of sculptures from which Audio-Animatronics figures and bronzes were produced for exhibits at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair and Disney theme parks around the world.
Blaine is responsible for the realistic look of President Lincoln in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. In fact, he is featured in the pre-show video with Walt Disney discussing how he used a life mask to sculpt the iconic 16th president. Among Blaine’s other credits are his contributions to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. He also directed the sculpture of every U.S. president, up to George W. Bush in 2001, for The Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World Resort.
Blaine’s window, located above The Mad Hatter, was dedicated in 1992 and reads: The Busy Hands School, Sculpting, Whittling & Soap Carving, Blaine Gibson, Headmaster, “The Eternal Pursuit of the Artists Craft.” Blaine was named a Disney Legend in 1993.