A Long-Awaited Celebration: 2019 Walt Disney Legacy Award Recipients Honored at Disneyland Resort

Krystal Rhaburn

by , Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

The Walt Disney Legacy Award is the highest honor any cast member, Disney Imagineer, crew member or employee can receive. A finite number of recipients are nominated and selected annually for their incredible abilities to “Dream, Create & Inspire,” as Walt Disney himself did, in their respective roles across various company segments.

Over two years after being selected, more than 100 West Coast 2019 Walt Disney Legacy Award recipients were able to be honored in a night of celebration on May 25 at Disneyland Hotel.

“Legacy recipients are among the elite of the elite in our company,” Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock stated in his onstage welcome to guests. “Less than 1% of our workforce is a Legacy Award winner.”

In a night of entertainment, elegance, food and fun that was years in the making, recipients and their guests were treated to a red carpet, live band, four-course meal and several performances including a surprise medley by Disney on Broadway artists Josh Strickland and Kissy Simmons along with Disney Legend Jodi Benson (original Ariel of “The Little Mermaid”) on a stage set for a true awards show.

Along with overseeing the set design of that very stage and creating something unlike this event has ever seen before, Disneyland Resort Senior Art Director Scott Shaffer led the coordination of a new element for this year’s event: mid-century-inspired art pieces that portrayed different facets of Walt Disney’s legacy. “I wanted to focus on the golden age, which encompassed an explosion of all of his ideas, and showcase his legacy in a fun, artistic way,” Scott said. “We decided to opt for color – rather than the typical black and white theme usually seen in Legacy imagery – because Walt was really one of the first people to bring color to life in animation.”

To design the pieces, the art team brought in local consultant Ashley Taylor who recently worked with Shaffer and the company on the newest float in the Main Street Electrical Parade that includes stylized Disney characters.

Walt’s love for nature and animation, his worldwide impact on entertainment (specifically in television, films and live theater) and the significance of Disneyland park in the tourism and entertainment industries were all displayed across the eight large art pieces that brought color, life and wonder to the event ballroom on a night celebrating passion, innovation and excellence.

Disney cast members, Imagineers, crew members and employees nominated by their peers for 2022 Walt Disney Legacy Awards will be chosen and recognized later this year. Keep an eye out for those updates soon!