UPDATE: We’ve confirmed with Walt Disney Imagineering that the name for the new Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue at Disney California Adventure park will be “Storytellers.”
In a presentation at the D23 Expo today detailing the upcoming Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure park, Imagineers Ray Spencer, Lisa Girolami and Coulter Winn unveiled a very special piece of this new area.
A new statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse will be featured on Buena Vista Street when it opens in 2012. Walt Disney Imagineering unveiled a maquette similar to the one pictured above, showing what the statue will look like. In this Q&A with the Disney Parks Blog, Ray Spencer, creative director for Buena Vista Street, explains the story behind the remarkable statue.
How does this statue help tell the story of Buena Vista Street?
It is a young Walt Disney as you would have seen him when he just stepped off the train from Kansas City in 1923, arriving in California to pursue his dreams. The street is set in the time period between 1923-1937, the time when Walt arrived and subsequently innovated, risked and created the studio that is the origin of all that The Walt Disney Company has become. He is located on the ground, not on a pedestal or planter, so that he is accessable to guests – “one of us.” Early Los Angeles (Buena Vista Street) is Walt’s land of opportunity and dreams at this time, and metaphorically it is for our guests as well!
Tell us what is going on in the scene depicted in the statue.
Walt has just arrived in California from Kansas City, and as he looks around in wonder and optimism, the world is his oyster to realize his dreams.
The statue is also an amalgam of young Walt and early Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse – although not created until after Walt’s arrival in Los Angeles – was, according to story, created on a train and was part of Walt’s travels and his muse, and is a fitting travel partner.
How does this statue compliment the iconic Partners statue at Disneyland park?
It could be considered a “bookend” in that in Disneyland park, the Partners statue is a mature Walt and Mickey, already wildly successful and the guests are the benefactors of their effort. Walt has realized his dreams and is sharing with us. Also, the Partners statue is more of a “monument” at Disneyland park.
In Disney California Adventure park, the statue is of young Walt as he arrived in Los Angeles, and at this point in time nobody knew who he was. He is one of us, and his optimism and enthusiasm are yet to be proven. In a way at this point in his life he is “everyman” but you can see it on his face, and in Mickey’s, that through this remarkable individual’s dreams and efforts, something great is going to happen.
How did you decide on the placement of the statue?
We wanted it in the new Hub, facing the center and on the street corner, so that he is one of our guests. We also wanted him near the Carthay Circle Theatre so that he could be part of that scene as well.
The statue maquette is on display this weekend at the Parks & Resorts Pavilion at the D23 Expo and will later be seen in the Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure park.
Walt’s head to me looks odd and small to scale and the body. Hmmm.
I think Storytellers is a great name for this one.
I absolutely love the backstory to this whole concept; Walt arriving in Southern California in 1927 to build an empire and become great American icons. It’s absolutely thrilling to see this is on the way for us, and what a perfectly created compliment to the original Partners statue across the plaza at Disneyland.
Thank you for the update Erin. 🙂 “Storytellers” is a nice name.
Yay! Storytellers is perfectly fitting.
@Joe – Great suggestion!
I am so happy California Adventure is finally turning into a true Disney theme park! This is a perfect addition and a great fresh start!
I think Start of a Friendship would be a good name.
I was at the panel when they unveiled this maquette. To everyone who keeps asking about adding Oswald or changing it a little bit, Coulter Winn said that he began to cry when he saw the LIFESIZE version so the final statue has been made.
Do you happen to know when the Blue Sky Cellar will receive an update?
How about something with Walt and Roy?
I think the statue looks great. Certainly understand some people wanting Oswald but I honestly don’t think the average guest would make the connection easily. It has to be Mickey…he and Walt go hand in hand.
Oswald never was owned by Warner Brothers. Walt lost Oswald in the spring of 1928 when he asked Charles Mintz with Universal Studios for an increased budget to produce more Oswald films. That’s when Mintz demanded Walt take a 20% budget cut and reminded him that Universal owned the character. He also revealed that he had signed most of his animators to a new contract and that Universal was going to start producing Oswald without the Disney Brothers.
Jump forward to February 2006, a number of minor assets including the rights to Oswald were acquired by The Walt Disney Company from NBC Universal as part of a deal that sent sportscaster Al Michaels from Disney’s ABC and ESPN to NBC Sports. At the time, ABC had lost its contract for NFL broadcast rights, and despite recently signing a long-term contract with ESPN, Michaels was interested in rejoining broadcast partner John Madden at NBC for the Sunday night package. Universal transferred the copyright in a cartoon character to Disney, and in exchange, Disney released Michaels from his employment contract, allowing him to sign with NBC.
And that in a nut shell is how Oswald came back home to Disney.
In looking for Oswald Rabbit, I see he and his ownership has returned to Disney since 2006 as Walt had created him back in 1927. This was part of a trade with NBC Universal. So it is now possible that Oswald and Walt can be reunited in a 1927 likeness. He has starred in a recent TDL Easter Parade, but has not been honored in bronze as yet. Oswald’s loss was Mickey’s gain,so maybe they can shake hands on being reunited as a part of Walt’s family again.
I love everything about this! It’s so sentimental. I love that the Imagineers chose to depict him as an “everyman” and that he’ll just be on the street corner, enjoying the park with everyone else. GREAT JOB!
@Friend Warner Bros. actually never had anything to do with Oswald. Oswald was created by Walt Disney while he was working for Universal, and after creating a season’s worth of animated Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shorts Disney approached the head of Universal at the time to request an increased budget given the success of the shorts. However, not only was Disney’s request declined, they actually cut his budget and reminded him that both the Oswald character and all of his animators were under contract with Universal, so if Walt walked he’d have to leave all of it behind. He walked anyway, and as legend has it, it was on the train ride home from that meeting that Walt drew his first picture of Mickey Mouse.
Fast forward several decades and in 2006 Disney traded their ESPN sportscaster Al Michaels to NBC Universal in exchange for the rights to Oswald. That’s why there is now (some) Oswald merchandise at Disney Parks, a Disney Treasures collection of Oswald shorts, and a star role for the character in Disney Epic Mickey.
tl;dr Disney owns the rights to Oswald again, so having him as part of the statue would not be out of the question.
That is spectacular! Would love a smaller version for my desk.
That is a good point about Oswald Rabbit,but maybe Disney doesn’t have the rights to use him?? Does he still belong to Warner Brothers? I thought they should have mentioned the Sculptors name, having worked and studied under Blaine Gibson at WED/WDI for over 30 years. Perhaps it’s Adolfo? Great man.
The talented sculptor is Rick Terry, a long-time collaborator with Disney Legend and former Imagineer Blaine Gibson. Blaine has even reviewed Rick’s progress along the way and given him notes on this wonderful sculpture.
I love this! A fitting “sister” statue for the original Partners.
Oswald wasn’t around very long and was stolen away from Walt. So Mickey is obviously the better fit!
@D, that truck isn’t Walt’s actual truck. It was used as a prop in a Walt documentary.
Name: Young Partners
Yes, I would like to know the statue’s name as well. Partners II? Imagination? New Businessmen? A New Fantasy? Magic Has Arrived? Arrived. – ?
This is yet another brilliant example of how the Walt Disney Co. adds to the language of spatial vernacular in a public space.
I can’t wait!
The trunk Mickey in on sure looks like Walt’s actual trunk he used as seen on D23 Armchair Archives video.
What is the statue’s name?
Hi Brian –
Walt Disney Imagineering is still finalizing the name of the new Walt & Mickey statue for Disney California Adventure park and will announce that at a later time.
Wouldn’t Oswald the Lucky Rabbit have made more sense?
Since he was Walt’s first creation and Walt didn’t even think up Mickey until he had to leave Oswald behind.
I love Mickey, but there is already a statue of the two at Disneyland.
How bout making Oswald’s dream, from Epic Mickey, come true?
I attended the Buena Vista Street presentation today and saw this in person, its awesome.
NOTE: The picture in this blog post shows a work-in-progress. The final version of the maquette has more details on the large suitcase.
This new statue looks incredible. I love the description, reasoning and placement. I cannot wait to see it. As I’ll be there later this year, I may have to make another trip in 2012 just to see this statue, Cars Land and the completed DCA upgrade!
Is there a regular shuttle service from palm hotel and villas in kiss me to Disney world, and all day service late into the night?
That maquette looks AMAZING!!!!! I can not wait to see the statue in person!!!!
Buena Vista Street opens Summer 2012 correct?
Maybe a oswald the lucky rabbit next to Walt????
That would be cool!
Definitely cool, I’m looking forward to seeing the finished version. Although, I think it would have been neat to have Oswald included in the statue as well; definitely not instead of Mickey, but in addition to. Oswald was Walt’s main focus during the beginning of that period, and I know you’re paying tribute to him with Oswald’s filling station, but seeing him front and center in a Disney Park would feel just a little more magical. Almost a passing of the torch.
Does anyone know if there are plans to offer this statue for sale, like Disney did with the resin “Partners” statue a few years back?
Wow ! Very nicely done. Looking forward to seeing the real sculpture when its completed.
The statue looks awesome! I was just wondering why they decided to go with a newer styled Mickey as opposed to an older style like from Plane Crazy or Steamboat Willie, which would fit into the era the statue depicts?
Are smaller versions of this statue going to be available for purchase?