Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Whoa, déjà vu! 
Well, here we are, back together again 'round the ol' Chemitron enjoying Monsanto's Hall of Chemistry at Disneyland!

 This is the finished color artwork for a 1955 newspaper supplement describing the attractions in Walt Disney's brand new showplace.

If you're joining us for the first time, please scroll down a few posts to see the original pencil layout sketches for these very same paintings.

Disneyland Chemitron Illustration Detail

Something I had not noticed before: the Eight Basic Elements appear to be holding hands! Perhaps Monsanto intended to portray the Elements as a group of old chums, a team of friends working hand-in-hand for the benefit of modern man.  Or maybe they're challenging Tomorrowland visitors to a game of Red Rover.

Disneyland Chemitron Illustrations

I'll be sharing more original art from this series in the weeks to come, so drop by again soon, won't you?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Learning New Vices

Disneyland America Sings "Wanderin' Boy"

Where is my wandering boy tonight?
Down in the licensed saloon.
Learning new vices all the night long,
Tempted to all that's sinful and wrong,
List'ning to the sirens' old song
Down in the licensed saloon...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Happy Easter Quiz!
Originally uploaded by Miehana

I'll raise a mug to anyone who can identify where this "wandering" robotic rabbit once resided.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Disneyland Monsanto Chemitron Rendering 1955I'm absolutely fascinated by many of the early exhibits at Disneyland that I've only read about, whether it be desert rocks glowing like colorful gemstones under black light, a giant model of a human blood cell, a monumental clock of the world, or even an aluminum pig. Many intriguing dioramas, murals, and models - the work of anonymous artists funded by some of America's most formidable corporations- are barely a footnote in the Park's history, overshadowed by today's less ambitious delights of churros and fast-passes.

Some of the displays were so "high concept" it's difficult to imagine that they ever managed to get their point across. Take for instance the "CHEMITRON" - the all but forgotten centerpiece of Monsanto's Hall of Chemistry attraction in mid-century Tomorrowland.

“Upon entering Monsanto’s Hall of Chemistry, you will see the CHEMITRON…huge shining test tubes of the eight basic materials found in nature, from which countless chemicals and plastics can be made: Salt, coal, air, oil, sulfur, phosphate rock, water, and limestone -- but from those eight common substances come almost 500 different Monasanto chemicals and plastics. "

Monsanto Chemitron at Disneyland 1956

Artistically the Chemitron was a knock-out. Oddly art-deco in its design, the "eight basic materials" are depicted as imposing human figures - male and female - silently rising up above their glass cylinders like unbottled genies. Each a mythological god or goddess of the supernatural chemical world, standing waist deep in colored "liquid" -like an assortment of pancake syrups at IHOP.

"Air", for example, was embodied as an ethereal female with her hair floating up toward the ceiling. The crystalline sculpture of "Salt" had an almost cubistic nature, and glossy "Oil" was sleek and fluid. Figures representing translucent properties were internally lit and staggered between more opaque figures, like coal or sulfur.

Disneyland Monsanto Chemistry Display

"In the ceiling above the “Chemitron” spreads the arm of chemistry which transforms these eight basic materials into hundreds of chemicals and thousands of products we use and enjoy. In the hand is a ball of fire, symbol of the complex processes necessary for this transformation. Through the arm's arteries of industry, the chemicals are formed into products that affect our everyday lives.”

Disneyland Monsanto Hall of Chemistry

So. Whatever became of the Chemitron, I wonder? In contrast to the juvenile marketing of today's Disneyland, it's difficult to imagine it could really have ever existed at all.

Perhaps somewhere in this world there's a vaguely female-ish figure that once represented "phosphate rock" to perplexed Disneyland guests - now dusty and forgotten behind the water heater in someone's garage. A genie waiting to be freed...

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Pixar Play Parade Designed by Jody Daily

Yeah, I know I've been bragging about this new parade a lot lately, but I'm genuinely excited about it --and not just because I know the guy who designed it! It's fun, funny, and full of charming details that will require repeat viewings to appreciate them all. Pixar's characters get the royal treatment for this elaborate spectacle that hearkens back to the wonderful parades I remember seeing at Disneyland as a kid.

This rendering is the opening unit featuring the Monsters Inc. gang, sluggishly led by baton-twirling majorette Roz. Jody's idea to have the parade begin with a fanfare by a "big bass drum" is a heartfelt tribute to the classic Disneyland parades of the past which were led by Mickey Mouse banging a similar oversized instrument.

"Soft opening" for the parade begins TODAY, MARCH 10, although the official advertised debut is this Friday. The parade steps off at 5:15 every day this week at Disney's California Adventure Theme Park, and will run regularly throughout the summer!

More of Jody's parade designs have surfaced on this site:

Monday, March 03, 2008

WALT DISNEY'S "SKY CROWN" - A Logo For All SeasonsWalt Disney's "Sky Crown" Logo 6
More eye-grabbing logo concepts for Walt Disney's proposed ski resort in California's Mineral King Valley. Early 1960s.
Walt Disney's "Sky Crown" Logo 4
These miniature works of art (the artist is unknown by me) were done with colored pencils, crayons, and gouache on pieces of white paper mounted onto matte board. The 40 year-old contact cement appears to have absorbed into the paper on some of them, leaving a yellowish patina.

Despite their obvious historical significance, the originals were sold off to the public through Disney's online auctions in 2006. I wasn't able to buy any of them unfortunately, but I'm very grateful for these incredible jpegs to share and enjoy.
Walt Disney's "Sky Crown" Logo 5 Walt Disney's "Sky Crown" Logo 3 Walt Disney's "Sky Crown" Logo 2

Walt Disney's "Sky Crown" Logo
Originally uploaded by Miehana
In the early 1960s Walt Disney famously proposed building a commercial ski resort in the Mineral King Valley near California's High Sierra. The ambitious plans called for the construction of 14 ski lifts, serving an expected 2 million visitors annually by 1973.

Protests by a coalition of preservationists, led by the Sierra Club and the National Park Service, stopped the ski resort from being built, and in 1978 an act of Congress annexed the Mineral King Valley into Sequoia National Park. Happily, the area remains remote and wild today.

Not much is known about Disney's specific plans for the project, but several terrific logo concepts for "Sky Crown" Resort were sold to the public by Disney Auctions in 2006.

This small-ish art piece, in paint and colored pencil, depicts a sunny snowflake icon extolling year-round vacation opportunities in all kinds of weather. The graphic is by an unknown artist.

There is currently a webcam set up in Mineral King, if you'd like to "visit" and see how the area appears right now!