Monday, July 20, 2009

Mr. Hayward's Moon Model
Walt Disney gets the big ball rolling, 1955

Years before Astronaut Neil Armstrong took "one small step for Man," Walt Disney was already sending mankind to the Moon and back aboard the TWA Moonliner Rocket at Disneyland. Amature space travelers gazing at the overhead scanner could view the lunar surface grow larger and more detailed as the rocket rumbled toward its destination. 

The moon seen in the Disneyland attraction was, naturally, an intensely accurate scale model sculpted by Pasadena artist Roger Hayward.  Hayward, who was also an accomplished scientific illustrator, had won international attention in 1934 when he constructed an enormous section of the moon's surface for the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

Roger Hayward, in 1934, sculpts an 80-foot diameter section of the Moon's surface.

Soon Hayward was building smaller but complete moons for the Los Angeles Griffith and Chicago Adler Planetariums.  The Griffith model had been on display for nearly twenty years when Disney director Ward Kimball came along and made it a movie star in his Man in Space series for the weekly Disneyland TV program.

 Disney Story Artist Bill Bosche (foreground left) supervises the moon landing at the Disney Studios, March 1955

The 6-foot moon was trucked down the hill to the Disney Studio staff shop, where a casting was made (from a huge mold about the size of a hot tub!)  Reportedly in the process some of the surface details were altered, and Hayward himself was hired by Disney as a consultant to provide corrections.

"Ah, see the moon, Moon that shines in June, Like a macaroon..."
 Griffith Observatory, March 1995

Today Roger Hayward's Moon remains as impressive as ever, and I go out of my way to admire it each time I'm at the Griffith. The model was originally located in a special art deco-ish vestibule on the observatory's main floor, but was relocated in the recent renovation to a less-prominent spot downstairs.

Hayward's Moon displayed at Griffith Observatory today

Strangely there is no credit given to Hayward at the display, which I think is a shame.  Apart from the detail and accuracy of mapping out the moon's real features, Hayward's model is an historic treasure of the planetarium itself, and a major attraction since the very beginning.  
As far as moon models go, this one is a star.
Roger Hayward in 1964
And now the skills of the sculptor and the talents of the artist will let us relive a few great moments with Mr. Hayward's Moon Model...

Clip from Walt Disney's "Man and the Moon" 1955

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Candy Box 
I'm dedicating this post to Vintage Disneyland Tickets, who recently shared photos of the original Fantasyland Central Ticket Booth on his wonderful blog.  

Since the 1970s, the little booth, vaguely resembling a medieval tournament tent, has been tucked into the back corner of Fantasyland.  But as early as 1959, the booth was right in the heart of everything.

When the Park ceased selling ticket books in the early 80s, the booth was transformed into a charming mini-mart for Kodak Film and information.

Still in use today (the gold-crowned peak was removed only a few months ago during a renovation), the little booth remains an eye-catching example of early Disney architecture.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Nostalgia Under Glass
 July 17, 1995 was a milestone day, for several reasons.  As Walt Disney's magical little theme park in Anaheim was celebrating "40 Years of Adventures",  Jody and I were celebrating the completion of one of our first collaborative projects together: Four freestanding kiosks showcasing photos and memorabilia from Disneyland's first four decades.

For months leading up to the 40th, we researched and gathered content, wrote captions, and designed the display cases, which were intended to evoke the nostalgic architecture of each area of the Park.

Some of the kiosks had built-in planters for living greenery.

As the summer rolled by, the displays sometimes rolled to different locations.

When their service eventually came to an end, the kiosks were auctioned off to collectors.  (Do you have one??)

With the debut of the new Indiana Jones attraction  that summer, and all the publicity surrounding it, Park Operations felt Adventureland didn't require any extra attention, so its themed display was never built! 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Say whatever you want about flat surfaces and Walt running out of money at the last minute...early Fantasyland was SPECTACULAR!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Captain Eo Window Display

This figure, created for a display in the Disneyland Showcase preview center on Main Street in 1985, was the public's first view of Michael Jackson in his role as Captain Eo.  The sculptures of Eo and his "ragtag band", displayed in a miniature setting from the film, were all made and painted by an enthusiastic  young  artist, Jason Bahret, of the Disneyland Entertainment Art Department.


In the early 1980s, Jason was the undisputed whiz-kid of the Art Department, creating character art, building scale models for parades and shows, and constructing full-sized set pieces. When I was hired into the department in 1988, Jason had already transferred to the Disney Stores design group, designing all those big fiberglass Disney characters that populated the first new store interiors.  I didn't really get to know Jason until 1991, when we both sculpted characters for the "Beauty and the Beast" Emporium windows, but his name was legendary to me.

 Clay over aluminum wire armature.

For the Captain Eo figures, Jason recalls that there was not much reference available to him. No one had seen the fim, which was still in post-production, and the Studio was reluctant to release any  photos so early, so he referred to a handful of color slides that had been shot on the set.  "The biggest challenge for me was figuring out all the layers, buckles and straps on Michael Jackson's costume," Jason recalls.  "I must have just made up about 40 to 50 percent of it since I couldn't see it in the slides."

Major Domo

Thanks to Jason for generously sharing these images from his personal portfolio.  After 27 years at Disney, he left in 2006  to explore more interests (he's also an actor!) but you can enjoy more of Jason Bahret's creative work here.

With Jason at our gallery show in Laguna last year.  
He's still a whiz-kid!

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Birthday Cake Room

Happy Birthday to you, dear blog readers! Welcome to the Birthday Cake Room, that odd circular gallery at the rear of the Disneyana Shop!  Why don't you come on back and check out some of the beautiful paintings hanging around in here (and I'll be darned, there's one by me!)

What—you didn't know this was the Birthday Cake Room?

For many years, I'd hear older Disneylanders refer to this little space as the Birthday Cake Room, and I often wondered why.  Perhaps, as some said, it was simply because the room was shaped round like a cake. Or maybe, as others believed, it was built to house a giant pastry for one of the early birthdays of the Park.  

Well, that answer's nearly right.  Here's the real story behind the Birthday Cake Room...

Sam McKim's 1955 rendering of Swift's Birthday Cake Room

In 1955, April to be exact - only 4 short months before Disneyland was set to open - Artist Sam McKim was asked to sketch a small alcove that could be built at the back end of the Market House.  The store, equipped with marble counters, large glass jars, cracker and pickle barrels, and a pot-bellied stove, was sponsored by Swift & Co. Meats, a company signed on to be a major sponsor in the Anaheim park. Besides keeping those pickle barrels stocked in the Market House, Swift would be providing beef, bacon, poultry, cheese, butter and ice cream to two new restaurants (namely, the Red Wagon Inn and Swift's Chicken Plantation in Frontierland) -- AND they were going to co-sponsor the nationwide opening day telecast.  

So, when it was announced that 1955 also happened to be the company's 100th year in business, a special room in the Market House was set aside to house a huge fake birthday cake... a cake "with 100 candles and topped with the Swift Centennial emblem."  Windows cut into the cake's sides showed scenes depicting "a century of progress in food preparation", as the press release described it.  There were pictures of wood-burning stoves, antique iceboxes and modern refrigerators, great-grandpa butchering a steer and great-grandma cooking a pot roast. It was a veritable carousel of progress in the form of an eight-foot tall layer cake.  Man, what a party!

The new unbirthday cake room, circa 1967 

After the celebrating was over the big dessert was rolled out of there, and the open space became a charming getaway from the crowds in the Market House.  A collection of antique nickel-operated music machines tinkled out old-timey tunes for happy folks who wandered back to enjoy a cookie and a cup of apple cider. 

Hank, honey, get up and 
put another nickel in, 
in the nickelodeon... 

Special details, such as these ceiling ornaments, seen in Sam McKim's original concept drawing remain in the Birthday Cake Room to this day.

Through the open doors above we see the 1967 Burry's Cookie Shop - formerly the Swift Butcher Shop, and our current day Disneyana Shop!   The wall separating the two rooms has since been opened for easy entry into the galleries.  No roadblock to get in your way as you head for that wall of big figs!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Disneyland Autopia, 1963