With less than a year 'til Disneyland's
50th anniversary gets here, a lot of Disneyana fans are already getting
nostalgic. They're anxious to hear stories of the resort's early days,
to view images of what "The Happiest Place on Earth" was like
'way back in its beginnings.
Me? When I find myself getting in that
sort of mood, I invariably find myself wandering around the lobbies
of the Disneyland Hotel's towers. Marveling at the great pieces of concept
art that the Imagineers used to decorate the public areas of this Anaheim
I mean, where else can you go to see
detailed images of attractions that Walt originally considered for his
theme park, but ultimately rejected. Rides like the "Monstro the
Whale shoot-the-shoots" ride (Which was supposed to built right
next to the "Peter Pan Flight.")
photo by Nancy Stadler
Or the "Donald Duck Bumper Boats" attraction,
which was supposed to have been built right next door to "The Old
Mill Ferris Wheel."
photo by Nancy Stadler
Mind you, WDI did eventually find a way to get the two
proposed attractions pictured above placed in Disney theme parks. Nearly
40 years after the concept had been originally proposed for construction
in Anaheim, plans for that "Old Mill Ferris Wheel" ride were
dusted off and included as part of Disneyland Paris's expansion of its
Fantasyland area. And -- as for the "Donald Duck Bumper Boats"
-- this concept actually provided the inspiration for Tokyo DisneySea's
Yeah, when it comes to WDI, no good idea ever really gets
discarded. Even that "Monstro the Whale" ride concept got
revisited recently, when the Imagineers were toying with ways to jazz
up DCA's "Paradise Pier" area. Given that former Disney Attractions
chairman *** Nunis had been noodging the Imagineers to add an authentic
"shoot-the-shoots" ride to this recreation of the Southern
California amusement piers of the 1920s & 1930s, WDI thought that
Monstro might just be the whale for that job. Unfortunately, that DCA
expansion idea got harpooned before it could even move out of committee.
Yeah, you can learn an awful lot about Disneyland history
by wandering through the lobbies of this hotel's tower. You can take
a fond look back at long gone attractions. Like the Viewliner ...
Or the Midget Autopia ...
These hotel displays also allow you to view the work of
late great Imagineers like John Hench (represented here by his concept
painting for the Disneyland Art Festival area on Main Street U.S.A.)
... As well as Sam McKim (represented here by his concept
painting for the exterior of the Red Wagon Inn).
I love how Sam would stash these great little human vingettes
in his Disneyland concept paintings. Take -- for example -- the kid
who's conked out on the park bench with his father, after having a little
too much fun at the park.
That's what I love about all these
reproductions of Disneyland concept art that are on display in the public
areas of the Disneyland Resort Hotel. It's not like when these paintings
get reproduced in some book and you have to squint to make out the details.
Here, the reproductions are full size and you can get right up-close.
Soak in all the details.
Take -- for example -- this concept
sketch for Tomorrowland that Herbie Ryman did back in 1965 ...
Only by moving in real close can you
see the in-joke that Herbie folded into this drawing. See that sign
that reads: "Drink Gurr's Diet Rite, A Real Drink." That's
Ryman poking fun at his old WED co-worker, Bob Gurr.
As grateful as I am that all this Disneyland
concept art is available for public viewing, I'm somewhat puzzled by
the staff's reaction to this collection. When I recently asked if there
was a definitive listing of what pieces were located where, all I got
was blank stares from the folks working the hotel's "Guest Relations"
desk. As if it had never occurred to them to actually catalogue all
the great Disneyland-related artwork that was on display at the resort.
Which is why I'm giving some semi-serious
thought to stepping in and filling that void. Perhaps putting together
some sort of on-line guide that would list what paintings were located
in which public areas at the resort.
Would that appeal to you folks? Having
some sort of section at JHM that would tell you where to go if you wanted
to see an image of what the inside of Walt's New Orleans Sqaure apartment
was supposed to look like?
Or what stairwell in the Bonita Tower
you have to go to in order to see concept art for the never-built "Big
Top 3 Ring Circus" show for that Disneyland expansion area that
never made it off the drawing board, "Dumbo Circus."
If this sounds like an intriguing idea
to you folks, let us know, okay? And we'll get started on this new JHM
Great story! One small Monstro correction (pun intended).. It's called a "Shoot the Chute ride"