Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Disneyland Kaiser Aluminum Pig Sketch, 1955
To celebrate fellow "keeper of the flame" Major Pepperidge's 600th incredible post on his site "Gorillas Don't Blog", I'm sharing a few pieces of, possibly never before seen, art from Disneyland's past. The Kaiser "Aluminum Hall of Fame" is about as obscure as you can get when talking about Disneyland's extinct exhibits and attractions. Very few images exist out in the wild today, and the color pictures currently on the good Major's blog are an especially rare treat. Make sure you check them out!

This week's images are part of an original pencil layout created in 1955 for a full-color newspaper section previewing some of the " many delights and wonders that are yours to enjoy at Disneyland."

"KAP, THE KAISER ALUMINUM PIG," will be your friendly host as he entertains you with his amazingly versatile antics. By pushing buttons or pulling handles you can make "KAP" flat as a pancake, light as a feather, round as a pole, strong as an ox, twisted like yarn, colored like a rainbow. He'll show you how he can get sizzling hot, dazzling bright, electrically shocking and will perform in many other ways useful to you."
Disneyland Kaiser Aluminum Telescope Sketch, 1955
"A giant telescope, a massive structure made of Aluminum and a symbol of man's scientific achievement is the introduction to your adventure in "Kaiser Aluminum-Land." An exciting peek through this brilliantly reflective Aluminum tube focuses your attention on the birth of the "brightest star in the world of metals" Aluminum! In this celestial setting you will see and hear the first chapter of the story of Aluminum's abundance, versatility and beauty.
Disneyland Kaiser Aluminum Talking Knight Sketch, 1955
"A KNIGHT IN ARMOR, a foil clad fire-fighter and a future spaceman each will tell stories of how Aluminum benefits themselves and you."
"VENUS, HISTORIC SYMBOL OF BEAUTY, is re-created life-size in a futuristic setting of dazzling glamour to represent the welding of Art and Industry, and the inherent beauty of ALUMINUM. The famed statue, draped in Aluminum yarns and bathed in colored lights, is surrounded by a huge multi-colored Aluminum star, beneath which are fanciful settings of possible future uses of Kaiser Aluminum for your benefit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Hercules Parade Model, 1997

I'm not a huge fan of the movie, but working on the Disneyland parade which debuted at the time of the film's release is a fond memory.

Here is my original plastic and wood model based on Jody's concept for a float in the "Hercules Victory Parade" which ran at Disneyland in 1997. Jody's idea was for a deadly carnival ride, with Hades' henchmen Pain and Panic careening around on a rickety roller coaster track, in and out of metal doors at the front and rear of the float. Medusa's gaping mouth conjured a fun-house tunnel, while a giant rusted iron figure of Hades had spinning saw blades on the ends of its arms. A costumed performer as the "real" Hades stood on a pedestal overlooking the scene.

All of us working on the parade particularly loved the soundtrack for this unit, which consisted of psychotic circus music and the unending screaming of the characters riding the little roller-coaster.

Does anybody out there have decent pictures of the final float? I didn't take a single shot of the parade when it was running, and I've been kicking myself over it for a whole decade.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Disneyland Characters Backstage - Early 1960s

Disneyland Characters Backstage - Early 1960s

Snow White seems to have been hanging out with the wrong crowd in those days.
Even more intriguing than the odd grouping, this photo was taken backstage in the large open area behind Main Street and Tomorrowland. You can see the bright aluminum nose of the TWA Moonliner in the background, and the brand new Administration Building on the right. Today, the rear wall of Space Mountain would be engulfing that circus tent back there.

Wouldn't it be great to see that crocodile running around Disneyland today? He's terrific!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Disneyland's Carousel of Progress

The Audio-Animatronics figures created by Disney in the 1960s are among the best and most life-like. This image, of the boy in the Carousel of Progress show, always causes my jaw to drop. He's veeeery real, and only in close-up shots like this can you detect any artifice. Created almost half a century ago, these figures by Walt Disney's talented artisans are still the "state of the art" in my opinion.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be Mine.
Originally uploaded by Miehana
Disneyland Valentines, 1959.

Together Time

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

AMERICA SINGS! Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home
It's incredible to think this animatronic spectacle in Tomorrowland closed 20 years ago. I was such a fan, I videotaped the show five times on its final day, each time from a different vantage point.

The fanciful character design was pure genius (nod to Marc Davis up in Heaven) and inspired me as a child more than anything else in the park.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

DISNEYLAND HERCULES PARADE 1997 - FLOAT MODELS Disneyland Hercules Parade 1997
The "Hercules Victory Parade" began its short run at Disneyland in June 1997, and I was lucky enough to be placed on that project, instead of another, more notorious spectacle which debuted that summer as well - "Light Magic!"

I collaborated with artist Vladimir Petrov in sculpting and constructing the float models. For the parade's opening unit shown above,Vladimir sculpted the "God-Go-Round" - a whimsical carnival-style ride which carried several of the Greek deities from the film. The giant Zeus with the lightning bolt was my contribution.

Years later, Vladimir and I had the happy fortuosity of working together again - sculpting several Disney collectibles, including these scale-replicas of props from the film "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Nemo Helmet
After nearly 25 years with Disneyland's Entertainment-Art department, Vladimir continues to build models and props for Park shows and attractions, such as the Haunted Mansion Holiday each Fall. He is truly one of Disneyland's unsung creative heroes!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

And now for a little trip into my past... Long, long ago I was one of the original designers of the “Fantasmic” river show at Disneyland (that’s me with the white ruler and Disneyland Art Director Tom Butsch – who I hope, if he encounters this photo, will forgive me for posting it! Hi Tom!)
Anyway, this is the best image I have of the character models I sculpted for use in creating the show’s giant inflatable puppets. Ursula the Sea Witch and the crocodile (from Peter Pan) were mine, and the dragon (Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty) was sculpted by Rich Collins. This photo was staged for a magazine article – I can’t remember which magazine – to publicize the show which was set to open the following May of ’92. Tom and I felt ridiculous as the photographer kept snapping away. For some reason I picked up a scale rule and started measuring Ursula’s head. Tom is probably saying something like, “I guess I’ll just hold this pencil up and pretend I’m art directing.”

Honestly, though, this picture brings back a lot of memories for me of a very happy time working at Disneyland in the late 1980s and 90s. We’re standing in front of the desk of my boss - the incredible Clare Graham - in a building which no longer exists today. This was before the big corporate “Team Disney Anaheim” building was built. The Entertainment-Art Department office was adjacent to the old parade rehearsal hall which was located approximately where the current off-ramp from the 5 freeway directs cars into a massive parking structure. If our “ghosts” are still occupying that space, they are being driven through daily by thousands of cars driving in to Disneyland. Sad, but that’s progress, I guess.

Of special note, see the Statue of Liberty torch model up on the shelf above the dragon’s head? That model, sculpted by Rich Collins and Jackie Perrault Gonzales, was for a float in the Celebrate USA Parade that ran briefly during the “Desert Storm” conflict.

Here's a “behind the scenes” video of the making of Fantasmic – including a brief clip of Art Director Tom Butsch (sorry again, Tom!) and the models!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Disneyland Ticket Booth Tomorrowland 1967

"Tomorrowland offers new frontiers in science, adventure and ideals," says its 1955 dedication plaque. Design could also have been added to that list, as this most ever-changing realm of Disneyland has been a challenge to Disney Imagineers from its inception. The question: how to style the future for an audience of today?

Walt Disney had admired the flair for colorful, structured motion in the designs of young artist Rolly Crump. For the all-new Tomorrowland of 1967, the Imagineer created a Central Ticket Booth which satisfied the area's broad demands: it delighted mod contemporaries, but also seemed poised to defy gravity and blast off at any moment!