Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Discover the Joy of Motoring

Just to the right of the Disneyland Fire Department is the car barn area and a wonderful illustration on the door leading to where the Main Street vehicles are kept. National Rent-a-Car sponsors the Fire Engine, Horse-Drawn Streetcars, Omnibus, and the Horseless Carriage. The first two attractions are 1955 originals while the Omnibus, which is modeled after a 1920's NYC Double Decker bus, and the Horseless Carriage, modeled after a nondescript 1903 automobile complete with an 'Ah-Ooo-Gah!' horn, were added later. Both here and in WDW you can find various signs around the entry hub and the hub at the castle which denote the pick-up and drop-off spots for these rides. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Walt's Window at the Fire Department

Much of the original concepts for Walt's earlier park returned in full force once Disneyland opened and most were located on Main Street USA. As a result, we have City Hall, The Opera House, and the Disneyland Fire Department, among others. The fire department building, located to the left as you enter the park and right next to City Hall, is a wonderful place to visit; inside you'll see all manner of items related to turn of the century fire stations and a restored, antique engine. In the back of the station, on the left, you can see the fire pole which connects the upper story to the lower floor. (Unfortunately, due to many adventurous boys in the '60s, the space between the two floors has been boarded.)

Perhaps most intriguing to many is the second floor of this building where Walt's personal apartment resides. Measuring approximately 500 sq. ft., this served as Walt's private refuge when in the parks and includes a large sitting room with roll-away beds, a kitchenette, bath, and a beautiful patio. This area, without a doubt, is the most exclusive in Disneyland. Emile Kuri and Lillian Disney designed the pied-à-terre and the apartment is full of antique items ranging from an Edison Victrola to Victorian phones and furniture. Word has it that the Disney Gallery, located in New Orleans Square, will be returned to its original usage as a much larger living space and will be available to lucky winners to spend the night beginning sometime in 2008. As an aficionado of the Gallery I will miss its unique offerings and location but can imagine the joy it will bring to visitors lucky enough to secure it for a grand night's stay.

The second story window you see on the right is the window today's post refers to: the staff at Disneyland have always kept an electric light, or a small Christmas tree during the holiday season, turned on to represent Walt's spirit in the hope he continues to look over the park even to this day. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Blue Ribbon Bakery

Every once in a while, you're lucky enough to combine two things in a photograph that define the park for you. In my case one of my very favorite personal photographs of Disneyland is the one above, a detail of the Blue Ribbon Bakery. Why is it one of my favorites? Well, for one, it's a composition I really like; secondly, the window featured at the upper right of the photo is that of Wally Boag, one of my favorite Disney performers.

Wally was a featured player in the Golden Horseshoe Revue and played the role of Pecos Bill three times a day, five days a week, for 27 years! Additionally, Wally Boag supplied the voice of José, one of the four macaws in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Wally joined Disney in 1955 after working as an actor at MGM and quickly became on of Walt's favorite performers. Wally's window appeared in 1995.

Other legends and persons of interest who have a window at this location include: Ed Winger, who supervised the paint, mill, and shop sign at Disneyland; Fred Joerger, who designed waterways for the park; Christopher Miller, Walt's first grandson; and Royal Clark, who was the former treasurer of WED Enterprises and Retlaw Enterprises, the privately held companies which owned the Disneyland Railroad, Monorail, and Enchanted Tiki Room. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor

Nestled in between the Blue Ribbon Bakery and the Penny Arcade is this storefront: the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. Currently sponsored by Dreyer's (Edy's to those of us west of the Mississippi and owned by Nestlé) the parlor uses Charles Dana Gibson's well known 'Gibson Girl' imagery to evoke a certain turn of the century feel to the establishment. According to Eddie Sotto, former Imagineer, Blaine Gibson suggested to his co-workers that many times it was just as good to use established images and iconography as to create something from scratch and this is a case in point.

If you happen to visit this spot during the holidays you'll notice a subtle change to the flavors offered; be on the look out for eggnog and peppermint ice cream and pumpkin, hollymint, and spiced apple yogurt. Please note this location is scheduled for renovation during a large part of January 2008 so let us know if you visit afterwards and see anything new. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back to the Opera House

As we wend our way through Main Street and its windows, we find ourselves back at the Opera House and two more windows.

Milt Abright, who's window is shown on the left, joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1947 as an accountant in the payroll group. His window reads, "Milt Albright, Entrepreneur. No job too big, no job too small." One of Milt's early responsibilities included the delivery of paychecks to executives at the Studios and that led Milt to have regular conversations with Walt. Milt became the manager of accounting at Disneyland in 1953 and after managing Holidayland and working in group sales became Manager of Special Projects, Marketing at Disneyland and retired from service after working as the Manager of Guest Communications in 1992.

Blaine Gibson's window reads, "The Busy Hands School. Sculpting, Whittling, and Soap Carving. The eternal pursuits of the artist's crafts." Blaine's career was a long and storied one; he joined the Studios as an animator and worked on such movies as 'Peter Pan', 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Fantasia', and others. His interest and incredible gifts as a sculptor led to his transfer to Imagineering and we are the better for it: his work on many Disneyland attractions is a hallmark of the parks. Most noticeable are the figures he created for the Hall of Presidents at WDW and the 'Partners' statue located in the central hub at Disneyland. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ice Cream, Anyone?

Today's photo is a detail shot of the Ice Cream sign located in between the Blue Ribbon Bakery and the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor located on Disneyland's Main Street USA. There's quite a history of ice cream shops and parlors at Disneyland; this location and sponsorship, by Nestlé, is rather new as the previous parlor was located just two doors down where the Blue Ribbon Bakery now stands and was sponsored by Carnation. Additionally, you will find the Main Street Cone Shop which is closer to the park entrance and on the right hand side of the street facing Cinderella Castle. Regardless, if you need an ice cream fix, you can take care of it here. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Disneyland Baby Care Center and Alexander Irvine

Next to the Main Street Photo Supply Company and perpendicular to Main Street is the Disneyland Baby Care Center, sponsored by Carnation. As a father who has been silly enough to tote a toddler in the parks I can attest to how welcome the site of these 'rest stations for children' are to parents and others alike. Above the storefront you will see a rather plain window which reads, "Alexander Irvine, MD". It's my understanding that Dr. Alexander Irvine, father to Richard Irvine, was one of Walt's personal physicians, an ophthalmologist. I've been unable to confirm so if you can let us know, please do! This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Roger Broggie

Above a storefront more commonly associated with former cast member Steve Martin you'll find Roger Broggie's window. The window reads, "Can Do" Machine Works: Mechanical Wonders, Live Steam Engines, Magical Illusions, Cameras. Roger Broggie, Shopmaster. "Advisor to the Magic Makers". Roger began his career as a machinist for the Disney Studio in 1939 and one of his first assignments concerned the new, multi-plane camera under development at that time in the Burbank studio. This camera, of course, would be one of many innovations that pushed Disney to the forefront of animation. Roger was also instrumental in developing Walt's passion for steam trains and installed the train garden in Walt's home and played a role in the Santa Fe Disneyland Railroad at the park. Roger eventually became head of the machine shop at the studio and contributed in the design and construction of numerous elements in movies and the parks, culminating in the construction of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction for the 1964 World's Fair. I owe a debt to Roger for his efforts on EPCOT Center, which he started working on in 1973! Roger passed in 1991. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Perfect Window Trio

At some point of our Main St USA window tour you might want to play a game of, "Which window holds the most talent?" And, if you were willing to play along, you would hear me say, "Why, this one; the Plaza School of Art window." Three tremendous Disney legends occupy the same real estate above the Main Street Photo Supply Company, located at the end of Main Street on your right hand side. And, without further ado, here they are:

Herbert Ryman, Art Director and Imagineer. For those of you who have seen the original Disneyland sketch it's safe to say you know it was Herb Ryman who took Walt's concept and transformed it to ink and paper. Herb began his career as a storyboard artist and after joining Walt served as art director for "Dumbo" and "Fantasia". However, Disneyland became the focal point of his career and his contributions to the park are both tremendous in their quality and quantity. Suffice to say, they are too numerous to list but one cannot overlook his contributions to Main St USA, Cinderella Castle, and New Orleans Square. Herb also worked on the wonderful exhibits at the 1964 World's Fair and is well known for his work on Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. With that said, I am in Herb's debt for the wonderful concept art he constructed for Walt's "Project X", now known as EPCOT Center.

John Hench, Art Director and Imagineer. In addition to Herb and Walt, John most likely had more of an impact on the development of Disneyland than any other person in the history of the park. John joined at roughly the same time as Herb and also contributed to "Dumbo" and "Fantasia". After John won an Oscar in 1954 for his work on "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" he started work as an Imagineer and started on the original Tomorrowland attractions. In addition to his work at Disneyland, John worked on the Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley CA (1964), the WDW master plan, TDL, Tokyo Disney Sea, WDW's Animal Kingdom, and California Adventure. In total, John worked for more than 60 years as a Disney employee and passed in 2004.

Peter Ellenshaw, Artist and Art Director. If you felt the same passion and amazement as I do for the film "Mary Poppins" than more than likely you have Peter Ellenshaw to thank. Peter, a citizen of England, first met Walt in 1948 during the post-war Disney production of "Treasure Island". Peter was chosen to specifically create matte paintings and was later brought to Hollywood to work on "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". Peter earned an Oscar in 1965 for his exquisite work on "Mary Poppins". During a spectacular career Peter worked on more than 30 Disney films and passed away in February of this year.

This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

The Mayor of Disneyland

Jack Lindquist started his career with Disney in 1955, right at the park's opening. Jack made his name in marketing and during a 38-year career held a variety of positions at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland, culminating in his position as President of Disneyland in 1990. Jack was regarded as one of the most personable and hands-off executives for the Mouse and retired on Mickey's 65th birthday on November 18, 1993. His window above City Hall reads, "J. B. Lindquist, Honorary Mayor of Disneyland. Jack of all trades, master of fun." This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Candy Palace and a thank-you to ABC

The Candy Palace, located on Main St USA, is an opening day original shop in Disneyland. The store is located at the end of Main Street on the right hand side of the street in between the Penny Arcade and the Refreshment Corner. If you take a look at these windows you'll notice the familiar "pseudo-company" approach: in this case it really is the network, ABC. These windows are a not so subtle thank-you to the network that helped introduce Walt's jewel to the larger world. As Walt and Roy mortgaged practically everything they owned to raise the funds necessary to build the park they solicited funds from a wide-range of corporations. ABC Television, seeing future synergies between the Disney brand and themselves, ponied up $6million and the necessary funds were secured. In exchange for the loan ABC received part ownership in the park and Disney's commitment to create a weekly television show for the network. After Disneyland's quick success, Roy bought back ABC's partial stake in the park but the "Wonderful World of Disney" became a television staple; one that introduced millions of people to the park in Anaheim. Fast forward to 1995 and the Walt Disney Co. purchase of ABC-Capital Cities now has new meaning! This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Windows Next to the Carriage House

Today's windows are located above the Emporium, directly to the left of the Carriage House Clothiers. The window to the left of this image reads, "The Artisan's Loft - Handmade Miniatures by Harriet Burns". Harriet worked within WED Enterprises (Imagineering) and participated in the design and creation of Sleeping Beauty Castle, New Orleans Square, The Haunted Mansion, and Storybook Land. Most dear to my heart is the fact that Harriet designed each and every singing bird in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Also unique to Harriet is her work on the 1964 World's Fair attractions including Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and her set design for the Carousel of Progress.

On the right hand side we find Charles Boyer's window. Boyer is known as a master illustrator and chances are any of the Normal Rockwell 'like' paintings you've seen in the park are Charles' work. Charles was the first full-time artist for Disneyland only (many others have worked both for the animation group and the parks) and is now known as Disneyland's master illustrator. His entry into Disneyland? He painted guest portraits at the Art Corner and continued from there. Shortly after starting he moved into a position with marketing and advertising and is now known as a Disney Legend. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Walt's Father's Window

One of the most perfect homages to a Disney legend happens to be the one Walt made to his father, Elias Disney. Much has been written about Walt's dad: I'll let you come to your own conclusions. (A great reference is the Walt Disney Family Museum website, with a link here.) So, why a window? Walt's dad, Elias, served as a contractor and worked on the construction of the Mark Twain Riverboat and his window is located above the Emporium. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

On a separate note today, thanks to Imaginerding: Home of the Disney Geeks! and the wonderful request they made of me last week. Thanks, George!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The China Closet and, what? The Wizard of Bras?

Ah, yes: the China Closet. A 1955 original, this storefront was formerly known as Ruggles China and Main Street Intimate Apparel Shop. For those of you in the know, this is where the 'Hollywood Maxwell, The Wizard of Bras' show took place. Now, wait a minute, you might say at this juncture. A corset shop? Yes, a corset shop. Bill Martin, Disney legend, was part of the team that put together this idea and while it didn't last long, it was emblematic of how the original Main Street USA operated. Lots of ideas flourished here and many withered on the vine. This one, probably for the best, died right here. My favorite line from the show narration? "Needless to say, Granny's secrets were well hidden." Yes; we should all hope so.

The China Closet, now perhaps a little more interesting to most, is currently home to collectibles and figurines. Honored above it's entry are the following Disney legends:

Edward T. Meck, Publicist. Ted Meck was one of the original Disneyland publicists and the creator of the Disneyland News which nowadays is much like the handouts you receive upon entry into the park advising you of the day's entertainment and events.

Cicely Rigdon, Ambassador. Cicely developed the absolutely wonderful ambassador program at Disneyland. Note: This window may no longer be located here; I forgot to check in July 2007 but understand it was moved to the Disney Showcase.

Nonetheless, the China Closet has a wonderful past. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Main Street Hotel and Hideo Amemiya

As we continue our tour of windows on Main Street USA in Disneyland let's take a closer look at the Main Street Hotel. This building is located on your right just after you pass the first roundabout with the flag pole and across the street from the Emporium. The facade has one tremendous window just next to the hotel sign honoring Hideo Amemiya. The sign reads, "International School of Hospitality, Hideo Amemiya, Headmaster. We put people first." Hideo, inducted as a Disney legend in 2005, joined the Walt Disney Company in 1971 and began work in hotel operations.

It's important to note that although WDW was a continuation of the work at DL, Disney had never operated hotels on premise - Hideo was instrumental in operations of the resorts we know and love today. After serving as director of resort operations in WDW Amemiya took on tremendous responsibility as a charter member of the Tokyo Disneyland management group. Perhaps his greatest role was the time spent as an intermediary between Disney and the Oriental Land Company; I think we owe Hideo a tremendous debt for his work on the TDL project. Just prior to his passing in 2001 Hideo was named SVP of the Disneyland Resort Hotels and epitomized hospitality in the Disney style.

Please look here for an article from one of Hideo's alma maters, UMass, written in 2000. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bank Windows and Disney Legends

Situated to the right as you walk into Disneyland park, the Bank of Main Street has a host of windows honoring Disney legends. The bank itself, though, is a visual treat. Harper Goff, legendary art director for the early park concepts, based this bank on one from his childhood home in Fort Collins, CO. Much as Walt relied on his childhood home of Marcelline, MO, Harper used his past to create the park.

There are far too many windows to cover with separate photos. Here's a list of those honored here:

Marvin Davis, Art Director. Herb Ryman's famous Disneyland sketch was created based on Marvin's work. Davis scaled all of the Harper Goff ideas into the 60 acres that comprised the park.

Richard Irvine, Art Director. Dick Irvine was another original Disneyland worker; most of us know him through the honorific bestowed upon him, the 'Richard F. Irvine' ferry boats.

Wilson Martin, Art Director. Bill Martin worked on Sleeping Beauty Castle, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Monorail.

George Patrick, Art Director. George was the art director for Frontierland; one of the first defining features of the Disneyland park.

Wade B. Rubottom, Art Director. Wade and George worked quite a bit together; Wade was responsible for Main Street USA at Disneyland, another quintessential park of Disneyland.

Gabriel Scognamillo, Art Director. Gabriel was the art director for the original Tomorrowland within the park.

J.S. Hamel, Engineer. Sam Hamel was instrumental in all things 'water' in the park; all moving water within the park's attractions and layouts were touched by him. Legend has it that when Walt contacted General Electric to assist with certain engineering aspects of the park they turned him down and recommended Hamel to him.

William T. Wheeler, Engineer. The Wheeler & Gray Company, an engineering firm, has worked with Disneyland since 1953; its namesake is a structural engineer brought in to help with the parks' construction.

John Wise, Engineer. An associate of Wheeler & Gray originally assigned to work on the Disneyland project, John Wise eventually became a member of WED. John was instrumental in creating a modular building approach which provided art directors the ability to change certain aspects of their buildings with ease and create the famous facades known to Disneyland.

Frank Wells, Administration. Frank Wells was president of the Walt Disney Company from 1984-1994; during his tenure the company became an even more dominant player in the entertainment industry. Just about everything Frank touched became gold and although he was part of Eisner's staff I think Walt would've liked this man.

This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007. Many thanks to for their information related to the windows on the Bank of Main Street building.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Emporium

I've overheard many folks say: "I don't feel like I'm at Disneyland until I see Sleeping Beauty Castle; then I know I'm really there." Fair enough; I'm sure many people share that sentiment. On the other hand, I don't feel like I'm at Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World until I see the Emporium. Opened with the original park in 1955, the Emporium is home to pretty much anything money can buy in Disneyland. Smaller than its sibling in WDW, this retail shop has some wonderful aesthetic touches; my favorites are the 'slices of life' between the top store shelves and the ceiling. If you enter the shop and head down towards the Castle you'll find one of my very favorites in the sporting goods section: a Mary Poppins scene in miniature. Another favorite, and I'm sure one of yours, are the window displays. Scenes from Ratatouille were in full swing this summer. This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Mad Hatter and X. Atencio's Window

The Mad Hatter shop, located on the right hand side of Main Street USA in Disneyland, is one of two places to find your very own mouse ears. Literally that is; they'll stitch your name on your very own pair if you'd like and for free. If you pass by without purchasing don't worry, the somewhat confusingly named Mad Hatter, located in Fantasyland, can take care of that request, too. In addition to mouse ears, you'll find a wide range of character hats including ball caps, jester hats, and the like. Of particular interest to this author is the center window on the second floor. This is X. Atencio's window; Xavier was responsible for the scripts to Adventure through Inner Space, the Haunted Mansion, helped conceive of Figment for EPCOT Center, and, most notably, along with George Bruns, wrote the song 'Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me' for Pirates of the Caribbean. X.'s window specifically states: "The Musical Quill - Lyrics and Librettos by X. Atencio". This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Main Street USA, Disney Showcase

The Disney Showcase store on Main Street USA is a retail shop located on the right hand of the street as you make your way towards Sleeping Beauty Castle. When last visited, this store was full of clothing character merchandise (what else?) and featured most of the items you'd expect to find within the Magic Kingdom. Of particular interest to the author, of course, is the sign. I'm especially interested to know if the crest located above the words 'Disney Showcase' has any significant bearing to anyone involved with Disneyland. Many words have been devoted to the legendary Disney family crest (fact or fiction?) but this mark does not correspond to that crest. If you know what this is, please help us out! This photo was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years Disneyland Model (for George)

Perhaps the most exciting part of the Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years exhibit inside the Main Street Opera House are the various scale models; of particular interest to many is the scale model of Disneyland as it existed on its first day, July 17, 1955. One can only imagine what the day must have been like in person; I'm sure no one expected that park on that day to become what it has. Also included in this exhibit are concept sketches and items from each of the Disneyland park 'lands', scores of photographs, and wonderful items once on display within the park. (On a side note, the only exhibit that caught my attention more than this model was the case with all of the various Disneyland ticket books - I wish had all of those in my collection!)

While I cannot do this model justice through photographs, some wonderful folks over at Visions Fantastic have; here is a link to Brett Garrett's photos and their site. (George - this one's for you!) This photograph, however, was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years Mosaic (for George)

As you enter the Opera House and pass through the doors of Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years this wonderful mosaic greets you; in person, you can see that each mosaic piece is actually a photo of a Disneyland attraction. The effect is tremendous and one of my personal favorites is the photograph of Space Mountain in Mickey's left ear, above Walt.

The words above the mosaic echo some of Walt's most famous: "To all who come to this happy place. . . Welcome!". This photograph was taken by the author in July, 2007.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years

Located inside the Main Street Opera House, Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years is a seventeen minute homage to the first 50 years of Disneyland, hosted by Steve Martin and Donald Duck. As guests exit the show they are treated to an assemblage of exhibit items including original concept sketches and models for loved attractions within the Disneyland park. The attraction displaced Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and, while rumored to return, I wouldn't be surprised to see Mssrs. Martin and Duck continue to play in front of crowds for the next couple of years. This photo was taken by the author in July, 2007.