Imagineer Kim Irvine didn’t need to look far for inspiration while curating a new exhibit that celebrates how beloved Disney films inspire park attractions ⏤ and vice versa ⏤ as part of the Disney100 Celebration at Disneyland Resort.
Kim’s late father, Harvey Toombs, was an animator at The Walt Disney Studios on the 1941 animated classic, “Dumbo,” one of the many Disney films whose transformation to a Disney attraction is celebrated in the new Disneyland park exhibit, The Disney Gallery Presents: Disney 100 Years of Wonder. It’s the biggest exhibit ever created for the gallery, extending to the entrance of The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln on Main Street, U.S.A.
“My dad was one of the original animators at the studio, and he often worked at home, so I had a lot of his animation pieces from ‘Dumbo,’ including the sequence when Dumbo is first born and you see his gigantic ears unfolding,” said Kim, executive creative director, Walt Disney Imagineering, and one of three generations of Imagineers in her family. Those iconic drawings are among more than 100 art pieces in the exhibit, many displayed on storyboards in a recreated animator’s room, complete with an original animator’s desk loaned from the Walt Disney Archives.
“The details go right down to the pencil sharpener, which I remember hearing the sound of coming from my dad’s office as I fell asleep at night; he’d be sharpening his Blackwing pencil every two minutes,” Kim recalled with a laugh. “I learned to draw sitting on my dad’s lap and tracing over his drawings.”
As a new piano rendition of “When you Wish Upon a Star” plays in the background, the exhibit also explores how attractions, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, have, in turn, inspired films. There’s also footage from “The Wonderful World of Disney” episode that aired the Sunday before the opening of Disneyland park in 1955; a model of the multiplane camera, accompanied by a video explaining how the 1937 Disney invention added depth to animation; and sculpts that show how Imagineers bring two-dimensional artwork to life in 3D models that form the foundation for attractions that capture the emotion of the films. In fact, one of those pieces was a surprise find.
“For about three years I’ve been looking for the Old Hag from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ who hasn’t been seen in Disneyland since the late 90s,” said Imagineer Dave Caranci, manager of Creative Development. The caged witch, an early Audio-Animatronics figure, had previously been a guest favorite in shops on Main Street, U.S.A., and Fantasyland in the 1980s and ’90s.
“We thought she was lost. Then, a couple of months ago, Kim and I were walking through our warehouse and there she was,” Dave said gleefully. “We know our guests are going to be as excited to see her as we were.”
Saw the exhibit yesterday and is a must see! Love the history and the pieces on display. Really love the video playing the old Disneyland construction shows. I wish Disney Plus would add those old shows to the streamer.