Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland Park

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.

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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.

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A Look Back: Behind the Scenes of the Re-imagined “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Park

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


It’s hard to believe it has been five years since the new dolls were added to “it’s a small world” at Disneyland park. I had the privilege to sit down with Imagineer Kim Irvine and several of the attraction’s magic-makers before “the happiest cruise that ever sailed ‘round the world” re-opened to guests back in 2009. As part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world,” I thought it would be fun to revisit this video and share it with you.

I have to say, the North America scene with the Woody, Jessie and Bullseye toys is still my favorite addition. What’s yours?

Join in the 50th anniversary celebration of “it’s a small world” at SmallWorld50.com.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: A Celebration Of ‘it’s a small world’ Continues

posted on March 29th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week, our celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the “it’s a small world” attraction kicked into high gear with multiple posts talking about the history and the significance of this attraction.

Kicking off the week, Greg Ehrbar shared some historic photos of Walt Disney during the attraction’s creative process with now Disney Legends Mary Blair, and brothers Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman.

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Erin Glover gave us a detailed look inside the “it’s a small world” attraction at Disneyland park, the first attraction of its kind to debut at a Disney theme park.

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I also shared a look inside the “it’s a small world” attraction here at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort – the second “small world” attraction ever built.

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Follow the Disney Parks Blog next week as the celebration of #SmallWorld50 continues. You can also join the celebration by creating your own “it’s a small world” doll or singalong video at SmallWorld50.com.

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Five Things You Might Not Know About ‘it’s a small world’ at Disney Parks

posted on March 27th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Around the world, Disney Parks are celebrating the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world,” which debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. You can join the celebration at SmallWorld50.com by creating your own “it’s a small world” doll and lending your voice to our global sing-along! Today, let’s dive into some little-known details about this iconic attraction.

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“it’s a small world” was designed to look like handmade, paper-mache children’s creations. Intended to look like a child’s art project, the attraction is a look at the world through a child’s eyes.

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Husband-and-wife team Marc and Alice Davis – (that’s Marc pictured above with Walt Disney and “it’s a small world” designer Mary Blair) were also instrumental in the creation of “it’s a small world” – Marc created many of the character vignettes, while Alice helped create many of the dolls’ costumes. They are the only married couple to have been honored with windows on Main Street, U.S.A.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD AT THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

The original concept featured the dolls singing the national anthems of their various countries. The result was, in Disney Legend Richard Sherman’s words, “a cacophony.” He and his brother, Robert, composed a simple song that could be translated into many languages and sung consistently throughout the attraction.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD AT THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Since “it’s a small world” can be found at five Disney parks on three continents (Disneyland park in California, Magic Kingdom Park in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland) the iconic theme song is always playing somewhere around the world.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD AT THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Over the course of a 16-hour operating day at Disneyland park, the “it’s a small world” theme song is played 1,200 times.

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Caryl Stern, President & CEO of U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Visits ‘it’s a small world’ at Disneyland Park

posted on March 26th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Yesterday, we were pleased to welcome Caryl Stern, President & CEO of U.S. Fund for UNICEF, to Disneyland park. In addition to recalling the long relationship between her organization and Disney, Caryl took a moment to look back her own experience as a child, riding “it’s a small world” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

You can be a part of the “it’s a small world” 50th anniversary celebration, too, at SmallWorld50.com.

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Disney Legend Rolly Crump Looks Back on Creation of ‘it’s a small world’

posted on March 26th, 2014 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations


Disney Legend Rolly Crump has very fond memories of being one of the Imagineers who helped create “it’s a small world.” In fact, he was there from day one, when Walt Disney came up with the idea. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane and vintage footage from our archives. Be sure to join in the 50th anniversary celebration of “it’s a small world” by going to smallworld50.com and uploading your own video of the unforgettable song.

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‘it’s a small world’ Around the World: Disneyland Park

posted on March 25th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


As Thomas Smith told you on Friday, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of “it’s a small world” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. As part of that celebration, my fellow Disney Parks Blog author, Jennifer Fickley-Baker, and I will bring you a look at this iconic attraction as it appears in Disney Parks around the world. Let’s start with the original, here at Disneyland park. Five years ago, the attraction was refurbished and updated with brand-new dolls representing some of our favorite Disney characters. Take a look!

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Check back soon, as Jennifer takes us to “it’s a small world” at Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World Resort. And be sure to join the celebration – sing along with us and create your own “it’s a small world” doll at SmallWorld50.com!

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Marvelous New Merchandise Debuts at Disney Parks

posted on March 24th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Some days do you feel like you are a superhero with the things you have accomplished? I know I do, or at least have some sort of special powers. I’m a pretty big fan of our Avengers films so you can only imagine my excitement for the upcoming release of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and especially the meet and greet opportunity taking place now at Disneyland park.

Are you looking for ways to update your super hero collection? Here are a few things you might want to consider checking out or picking up.

First and foremost, keep an eye out for the dated Opening Day Limited Edition 2000 ‘shield’-inspired pin, which opens to reveal the first Avenger. The pin will debut this April and will be available at pin purchasing locations. Also being released are specially created D-Tech iPhone 4 and 5 cases which are bound to make your phone ‘super’ cool. Look for the D-tech cases to appear in late-Spring.

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Also available are ‘shield’ inspired T-shirts for adults and kids, a woman’s tank, as well as a boys rashguard T-shirt and swim trunks.

Marvelous New Merchandise Debuts at Disney Parks

But wait, there’s more! You will also find an array of other themed merchandise including a mug, keychain, sticker, magnets, four button set, books and toys as well as matted prints and limited edition giclees.

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Over the next month, continue to watch as product hits the shelves in our merchandise locations. You’ll find it at:

Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA

Downtown Disney Area, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Special Note: A limited selection of merchandise will be available aboard Disney Cruise Line.

Will you assemble for this new merchandise?

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, Downtown Disney District, Walt Disney World Resort

This Week in Disney History: ‘Love Bug’ Day at Disneyland Park, 1969

posted on March 24th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Forty-five years ago this week, 101 decorated Volkswagen Beetles made their way down Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park to celebrate the release of the film, “The Love Bug,” the story of the 1963 racing Beetle (and one of my favorite movies). On March 23, 1969, Beetle owners gathered at Disneyland to show off their decorated bugs and parade them through the park.

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The cars were judged in the categories of most psychedelic, toylike, comical and best personality. Morton and Barbara Allen of Studio City, Calif., won the grand prize – a brand-new 1969 Volkswagen Beetle, presented by “The Love Bug” stars Dean Jones and Michele Lee. Other prizes represented the pinnacles of 1969 technology: portable color televisions, Kodak Super-8 movie cameras and projectors, and new Polaroid cameras.

I was so inspired by this nugget of Disneyland history that I even created a costume for my own 1968 Volkswagen Beetle. Check her out!

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Which category do you think she would have won? And can anyone guess what name I call her by?

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Best Guest Memories Of “it’s a small world” at Disney Parks

posted on March 24th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


it’s a small world” is such a classic Disney attraction, and since it can be experienced at Disney Parks around the world, it’s no wonder that our guests have such great memories of it.

Check out the video below to see what some of our park guests – including some who experienced the original attraction at the World’s Fair – had to say about their most memorable experiences aboard “it’s a small world.”

You can join the celebration by singing along and creating your own “it’s a small world” doll at SmallWorld50.com.

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