Monday, December 28, 2015

Small Wonder: Disneyland's 1977 Christmas Parade

All lined up: float models for Disneyland's Very Merry Christmas Parade 1977.
In the late 1980s, I was a designer at the off-site Disney art facility on Olive Street in Anaheim. In our building there was a warehouse aisle of stacked crates containing some of the most beautiful miniature models you've ever seen, some harkening back to the early 1960s and the time of Walt Disney himself.  There were parade floats, tiny stage sets, photo locations, miniature puppets and architectural details spanning the entire history of Disneyland's in-Park live entertainment…

...including the original hand-made models for 1977's Very Merry Christmas Parade! At the time, these 3/4 inch-scale works of art were still in marvelous shape, and I photographed them all for reference.
This turned out to be a rather smart thing to do, just a few years later Disneyland discarded their entire archive of entertainment models to create room in the warehouse for other things. I believe these photographs are the only way we can view this body of work today.

The iconic Gingerbread house popping out of an open-book would become the symbol of the parade, its image appeared in advertising and on tickets.

In the final parade, Chip and Dale made sweets at the kitchen table,  
surrounded by happy, dancing gingerbread cookie people.

At the North Pole Post Office, letters are pouring in 
from children around the world for Old Saint Nick.

Meanwhile on the toy factory float, toys of all kinds are being manufactured.
Even the factory itself is made of toys!

These drum units were rolling stages for various characters and dancers, 
and were also packed with speakers for the parade's musical soundtrack.

Some of these environments seem empty without the performers.  Here is an implied cottage for the Seven Dwarfs.  Grumpy played the pipe organ, while Dopey pumped the giant air bellows. 

Incidentally, this was the spot in the parade where the characters from
Disney's newest animated film The Rescuers made their appearance.

Disney characters of all kinds, including Pooh, Tigger, the Three Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, appeared with this unit, carrying prop gifts and decorating the Christmas Tree.  Snowmen and Snowladies bopped along behind.

And finally, Santa!  Led by his team of silly reindeer, and surrounded by the famous Disneyland Glockenspiel Girls,  Santa wished everyone "a very merry Christmas" from his sleigh above a landscape of snowy rooftops! 

To all of you who've follow this blog throughout the years, thanks!  I hope it's been as enjoyable for you, as it's been for me putting it together.  Here's wishing you a very merry 2016! And more merriment to come!


Len said...

Thanks for posting all of these amazing works of art throughout the year. I discovered your blog earlier this year and look forward to your posts of the behind the scene work.

outsidetheberm said...

So glad you took photos, Kevin! Wow!

Stephen Klippenstein said...

In 1977, when I was 16, I was a Toy Soldier in the very first Very Merry Christmas Parade... your photos bring back such fond memories! I remember at the time there was real concern on the part of Entertainment about replacing the extremely popular Fantasy on Parade. I also remember Santa kept hitting on the Glockenspiel Girls who accompanied his float.