It’s A Walt World After All || The Disneyland Chronicles – Year Thirteen // 1966


Walt Disney was a busy fellow and 1966 proved
to be another active year on his expanding calendar. Many things were brewing within
the Walt Disney Company and as per the usual, Walt would have a significant hand in each
of them. Walt, the leader of the Walt Disney Studios,
was guiding the production and development of its 19th animated feature film The Jungle
Book. An adaptation of the classic Rudyard Kipling novel, The Jungle Book would see Disney
bringing new life to the man-cub Mowgli and his wild adventures. The film would be among
the first to heavily employ the use of popular actors in the voice roles. Phil Harris, Sebastian
Cabot, and Louis Prima would bring a familiar and jazzy presence to the screen. It would
be released to audiences in the following year. Walt, was also, was happily producing ‘The
Happiest Millionaire’, a musical adapted from a play, adapted from a novel called My
Philadelphia Father. Directed by Norman Tokar, the story would follow the happy-go-lucky
Irish immigrant John Lawless, into the home of eccentric rich man, Anthony J Drexel Biddle,
played by Fred MacMurray, and his family. The movie would feature a full soundtrack
with music and lyrics written exclusively by the ever-rising in popularity Sherman Brothers.
It would be released to audiences in the following year. While Walt, was also overseeing, the transition
of his popular World’s Fair attractions from their temporary New York stage to their
permanent Disneyland residence, he was also shepherding the brand new attractions that
were soon to be entering into the park. Huge expansions in Disneyland would open this year,
and even more, attractions were on the impending horizon. The Disneyland park, just as Walt
had always intended it, was a constantly morphing, changing, and transformingly magical and wondrous
environment. These objectives would prove ever true in the following months and years
as Disneyland would say so long to a handful of attractions, and welcome several new ones. And Walt, as well, was in the process of developing
a special skiing resort in what is now Sequoia National Park, called Mineral King. Walt had
visited the area recreationally many times before and had been extremely keen in developing
something within that type of wintry environment ever since he had been placed in charge with
producing the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley,
California. In 1965, the Sierra Nevada land that housed the ideal vacation destination became available
for potential resort development by the Forest Service. Of the several that offered varying
designs, Walt made the winning proposal and was given the green light to explore and expand
his idea for a Disney resort there. Once completed Mineral King, coined as the American Alpine
Wonderland would be a vital stop for skiers all around the world. It would be of the largest
and most accommodating resorts for the sport in the world and it boasted estimates of nearly
one million visitors per year. It would have featured numerous restaurants and general
shops, movie theaters, ice rinks, and convention centers, a five-story hotel and of course
a large capacity ski lift that would send guest to various peaks along the surrounding
hills. With Walt at the helm, production on this project was moving swiftly. And Walt, as well, for several years had also
been contributing to the merging of two art schools, the Chouinard Art Institute and the
Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, into a brand new program and school he was founding,
called the California Institute of the Arts. Its purpose would be to foster students pursuing
careers in visual and performing arts. This included actors, musicians, and especially
artists and animators. Walt wanted to establish a community of the
arts that would provide a place to develop the talent of the future. Cal Arts would potentially
be the training ground where Disney and American entertainment could find its evolving legs,
as growing artists with new flair and capabilities would perfect and hone their craft here. Cal Arts would be one of the first professional
schools that students could graduate with an accredited degree in art, drama, music,
dance, writing, and more. At Cal Arts, these artists would be taught by professionals in
the form and would be able to establish their forte and artful identity. Even some of Disney’s
animators would give lectures and teach workshops within the school. Walt was adamant that academics should play
no role in the admissions process, but rather solely on the candidate’s talents in the arts.
In the future, many of the big players in Disney animation and beyond would find their
igniting beginnings within the halls of Cal Arts. Walt soon hoped to complete this merger by
having one single campus that could house and champion the creativity learning there. Walt was undertaking and overseeing many different
tasks and ventures but none of which could overtake Walt’s involvement in his latest
enterprise. Walt was no longer satisfied with shaping American culture and the way it loved
to be entertained through media and amusement parks. He wanted to go further and shape and
perfect the way America could and would live in the world of the future. Walt Disney always seemed to be at the forefront
of innovation. Whether it be within animation, and the broad strokes he made by incorporating
color, or sound, or full-length features. Or perhaps, in theme parks, as he entertained
new technologies that brought steel roller coasters, underwater ride systems, and audio-animatronics
to the table. He was finding ways to elaborate and advance every aspect of entertainment
that he could, and now Walt pined to perfect the heart of progress and civilization itself. ___Yesterday, Disneyland and the New York
World’s Fair…tomorrow, a project so vast, it has been called a whole new Disney “world.” And now, here’s Walt Disney…”___ Walt had recently just purchased a sizeable
area of land in Central Florida. The proclaiming press conference ensured that Orlando would
soon be home to a brand new East Coast Disneyland. But what wasn’t quite mentioned during the
broadcast was the driving force behind the entire purchase. That force was EPCOT. An
acronym standing for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. What Walt dreamed would
be a living blueprint of the future. In his later years, Walt developed a unique
interest in the design of cities and urban planning. EPCOT was going to be a functioning
city, a multilevel community that would revolutionize industry, transportation, modern living, recreation
and more. Walt saw the problems facing the modern city, and EPCOT proposed a special
solution to each of them. It was to be the Progress City, the first original of what
could potentially be commonplace. Walt was met with a great deal of protest
within his company. They didn’t understand. It was going to cost a fortune, and to what
benefit to the company. It was a challenge to get them to see it his way, and for the
most part, he failed to do that. But luckily, it was Walt who had the final say, and he
wanted to build EPCOT. The design of Disneyland itself was heralded
by some as the greatest piece of urban design in the United States. Disneyland was ingeniously
designed with a central hub that encouraged flow. Guests were efficiently able to navigate
within the park reaching each of the lands and destinations therein with ease. With that
in mind, EPCOT would imitate the intelligent hub and spoke layout of Disneyland. The hub would begin with the City Center,
fully enclosed from the outside elements, meaning the Florida weather would never be
able to hinder the progress happening within the city. This would be where EPCOT worked. This would lead into the green belt, a sizable
stretch of parks, stadiums and grassy garden areas. This would be where EPCOT played. This section would lead into a residential
area featuring housing that in essence would be a testing ground for various companies
to install fresh technologies and inventions. The true-life families of EPCOT would have
access to the latest prototypes in innovation. This would be where EPCOT lived. Connecting all of these areas would be a vast
network of transit, including monorails that would take residents to EPCOTs connecting
industrial park, or perhaps the opposite way towards Disneyland’s East Coast installment,
the Magic Kingdom. Internally within the city would be a spread of WEDWAY people movers
taking guests directly from their homes to the city and back, plus pedestrian pathways,
and multi-level underground roadways that would offer simple and focused routes for
both automobile and semi-trailer going in and through the city, no stoplights to be
found. There would also be an airport, a large cosmopolitan
hotel and convention center, various spaces for recreation, churches, and schools. And
an array of varying shops and restaurants. It would be a marvel for tourists just passing
through, and it would be daily life for the near 20,000 who would proudly reside there. Every citizen of EPCOT would be employed in
some capacity whether it be through the numerous businesses within the City Center, the EPCOT
Industrial Park, or even the Magic Kingdom. Every resident of EPCOT held a significant
responsibility in maintaining this living blueprint of the future. On October 27, 1966, Walt in the studio documented
his vision for the rest of the world, as he showed the early stages of what would be the
most revolutionary architectural undertaking ever. What is shown here in this 25-minute
film are mere slivers of scraps from the personal research and ultimate development that Walt
had invested into this venture. There was careful research and intentional
arrangement put in every factor of EPCOTs working composition. The beauty of EPCOT,
like Disneyland, would be its ability to adapt to the needs of society. Walt, on screen,
stood there proudly showcasing what would be the ultimate pinnacle of his storied career.
EPCOT, if truly completed, was knocking on the door of being one of the most forward
moments in human history. Yes, there were a wealth of big things on
the horizon for Disneyland and the Walt Disney Organization, especially. Walt’s plate was
certainly full, but his appetite for progress could certainly handle the task. His life
had been full of this incredible ambition. Along his journey, he had been faced with
several hurdles. Some were harder to get over, and Walt ended up bloodied on the ground many
times before. But with each stumble he learned, and with each failure he grew. These falls and defeats inspired his rise
and successes, and those hurdles slowly but surely throughout his career were becoming
easier to jump over. EPCOT was a race to the broadening future and Walt was determined
to split the ribbon at that visionary finish line, and it was as if nothing could slow
him down. But there were other players in that race, and in 1966, those players would
finally catch up to him. THE INTRO The year is 1966 and folks at home are exploring
new enterprises as William Shatner as Captian Kirk leads the world on the first ever Star
Trek, and POW! WHAMM! BANG! The Dark Knight makes his first theatrical appearance in Batman:
The Movie, starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader. And America gets a bit crunchier
as Doritos, with their genesis in Frontierland, become the first nationally distributed tortilla
chip. And Disneyland is getting ready for more attractions. The World’s Fair had ended it’s run nearly
a year a before in 1965. While being plagued with various issues behind the scenes. The
1964 Worlds Fair would be recalled on fondly proving to be one of the most exciting and
enjoyable fairs from a public standpoint in recent years. This perception of success can be attributed
to several factors, but arguably the largest being the involvement of Walt Disney and his
Imagineers. Large corporations were able to sponsor and
fund the development of these attractions. The long term plan for each of them would
find them ,upon completion of the fair, to be relocated to Disneyland where they would
continue to delight and entertain guests for years to come.
1966 would be the inaugarl for two of these World’s Fair Attractions within the park.
Ford’s Magic Skyways and it’s a small world. At the Fair, Ford’s Magic Skyway was one
of the most attended pavillions. Produced in sponsorship with the Ford Motor Company,
Walt and Imagineering developed a unique attraction that would take guests via Ford motor car
from the beginning of prehistoric past to the dreamy prospect of a Ford-centric future. In scope, this was arguably the most ambitious
of the attractions that Disney agreed to do. Disney needed to develop a pavillion that
would promote the Ford brand and models as well as reveal the brand new addition to the
Ford family making its debut at the Fair. The Ford Mustang. The show building in itself was a sight to
see, it largely covered an area of over 270,000 square feet and the ride path inside was nearly
half a mile long. For the main attraction, Imagineering decided
to use actual Ford Convertable cars as the ride vehicles. They were redesigned for the
cutting edge ride system that would connect them to a constantly in motion track. This
kept each vehicle going at the correct speed. It greatly simplified the load and unload
process and it became one of the higher capacity attractions at the Fair. Ford’s Magic Skyway could accommodate nearly
4,000 visitors every hour. The ride began as guests would board their
Ford cars and Walt himself would tune in on the in-car radio to narrate the attraction.
Walt would speak to them as they spiraled up a corridor and into a ‘time tunnel’
that would take the guests back in history to the age of dinosaurs. The art of audio-animatronics
had brought the long-extinct giants to life in a way never realized. Passengers encountered
mammoth life-size interpretations of natures most fearsome predators as Walt casually offered
the history and insight about the behemoths that were on display before them. Guests would drive by a quartet of towering
long neck brontosaurs dining on some treetop foliage. They would see a hatching family
of triceratops, and a looming flock of menacing pteranodons. They would daringly witness a
stegosaurus and a tyrannosaurus rex battle it out for prehistoric dominance. These were within visually impressive sets
accented with plants, fog, and bubbling waterfalls that helped set the scene. With a flourish of the cinematic score, the
Ford motor car would send guests into the dawn of man and the stone age. Here guests
would find light and humorous depictions of early Neanderthals. As they hunt wooly mammoths,
discover fire, and most importantly create the wheel. This was the element that tied
the attraction together. The ride would conclude as guests would catapult
into the Space Age. The world of the Future where Ford reigned supreme. In view of the
dazzling spectacle of a future city, guests would slowly careen down as the ride would
conclude and empty them into a special Ford showroom, where various Ford models were on
display. Accompanying this gallery was the melody written especially by the Sherman Brothers
which would encourage guests to GET THE FEEL OF THE WHEEL OF A FORD. As the Fair ended, Disney began more sharply
considering the relocation of the attraction. But there were some points of concern. Firstly,
there just wasn’t enough space to house the huge attraction at Disneyland. Secondly,
The Ford company opted not to continue their sponsorship of the attraction outside of the
Fair, so the cost would be wholly on Disney. This allowed Walt to modify the attraction,
bringing back only the elements he liked. Walt loved the dinosaurs in the exhibit, but
he felt that the cavemen, in comparison to the other audio-animatronic offerings of the
fair weren’t exactly up to his standards and so they stayed behind in New York to once
again be forgotten by history. On July 1, 1966, a new addition was added
to the Disneyland Railroad, upon conclusion of their tour of the Grand
Canyon, guests would then once again be trekked to the past where they would witness Disney’s
dinosaurs on display in a similar setting to that of the Magic Skyway. This would serve as the grand finale to the
grand circle tour of the Disneyland railroad which would find the final stop of the Main
Street Station only three hundred feet away. While not every piece of the attraction was
relocated to Disneyland, certainly the revolutionary ride design and engineering concepts would
be implemented heavily within several attractions being developed for the park in the years
to come. However, this year the road would end for
some aspects of Tomorrowland. 1966 would see the closure of numerous attractions therein.
For being a vision of the future Tomorrowland was becoming more and more dated every day,.
and Walt wanted to revitalize the space with some new energy and excitement. To make way
for these changes. Rides and attractions like Tomorrowland Jets and the Rocket To The Moon
would all close their doors for considerable reimagining, while attractions like the Hall
of Chemistry and the Flying Saucers would cease operation permanently before the end
of the year. These closures said goodbye to the futuristic forecasts of the recent past
and began preparing a new vision, welcoming the evolving concepts of Tomorrow and the
possible future it could imaginably bring. Certainly, there was a Tomorrowland, great,
big, and beautiful, shining over the horizon. Despite these closures, Disneyland saw a year
of tremendous growth within the park. On July 24, 1966, Disneyland’s largest expansion
project yet was officially unveiled. The brand new land, New Orleans Square. A tribute to
the New Orleans of yesteryear, when the port served as the festive social center of the
American frontier. This seamless addition against Frontierland brought new and exciting
vistas along the Rivers of America as the landscape took on the scenery of a lovingly
recreated 1850s New Orleans. It was a careful recreation, as historically
accurate as the story could allow, offering the most immersive Disney experience to date.
Within New Orleans Square guests were surrounded by jubilant ambiance. The sounds of lively
brass would echo out of every corner. There was a slew of various and unique offerings
including new signature restaurants like the French Market or the Sara Lee Cafe Orleans.
A Mint Julep Bar offered refreshing refreshment to those watching the boats on the waterway.
There was a glass blowing shop, a hat boutique, a spice store, a perfumery, and an antique
emporium filled with One-of-a-Kind artifacts. Visual and architectural accents like the
flower market, the balconies that were generally full of life and the grand court featuring
an elegant spiral staircase gave even more energy to the bustling space. Dixieland jazz
bands would parade and warble through the New Orleans Street, it was a spirited space
full of zest and authenticity. It was as far removed from the rest of Disneyland
as it could be, and even without premium ticketed attractions to entice them in, guests could
easily spend significant portions of their Disneyland day within the fun atmosphere that
Disney had recreated there. Of course, New Orleans Square wasn’t finished.
Future attractions including pirates and ghosts were getting their final touches and would
soon be remarkable pluses to the land. But even before that New Orleans Square was a
sensational experience. There were eleven months left. Pepsi-Cola
had secured a significant patch of real estate for the impending Worlds Fair without a clear
direction for what they wanted to achieve. The World’s Fair was a prime location for
branding and advertisement and Pepsi wanted to ensure their presence there. A sponsorship
with the UNICEF Pavillion, was their admirable way of achieving that. UNICEF was the United Nations International
Children’s, Emergency Fund. The organization had begun in World War 2, offering food and
relief to mothers and children within heavily impacted areas. This varying assistance would
continue well after the end of the war all over the world and by 1953, it was a permanent
component of the United Nations. A large factor of UNICEFs funds came from private donorship.
This Worlds Fair Pavillion would serve as a place to raise awareness, and offer support
to the children of the world. Plus Pepsi. Pepsi wanted to feature an attraction that
would be honoring to UNICEF, but they couldn’t quite land on a definitive theme or concept
that they liked. Crunched for time and with the Worlds Fair fast approaching they had
begun construction on the show building without any idea of what kind of attraction would
be housed within. It wasn’t until the last minute when Pepsi-Cola
board member and famous actress Joan Crawford suggested that Walt Disney be placed in charge
of developing the attraction. After all, she had been hearing numerous things about her
colleague in show business’ involvement in the Fair. How the attractions he was working
on were innovative and impressive. She believed Walt’s ingenuity plus the Disney knack for
entertaining families and specifically children would be a perfect fit for whatever this UNICEF
Pavillion could be. Without much choice, Pepsi reluctantly requested
the assistance of the Disney company. They recived an initial decline from Disneyland
head, Admiral Joe Fowler, who reasoned they were too pressed for time and energy what
with the three other technologically advanced projects they were already working on. However
when Walt found out about this, He was considerably upset, he reminded Fowler that he was the
one made the decisions. ‘Call them back,’ he said. ‘We’re going to do this.’ With an uncomplicated L-shaped building already
in construction, they began a “Planning Design Feasibility Study’ Imagineering would
pour over the potential possibilities and layouts and see what they could come up with. Perhaps, it was because something like this
was already brewing in Walts mind. But he had a concept for a little boat ride as he
called it. He came up with the idea “The Children Of The World” wherein riders would witness multiple children
from around the globe all singing their native countries national anthem. It would be a celebration of world culture
and the innocence of childhood. Several Imagineers like Claude Coats, Marc
& Alice Davis, and Rolly Crump would have their hands heavily in this production, but
if any Imagineer were to be given ultimate credit for the look and design and feel of
this attraction, those accolades would have to go to Imagineer and Disney artist Mary
Blair. Mary Blair had been a heavy player within
the Disney Studios for some time, offering visually unparalleled concept art and contrasting
color design for films like Cinderella, Alice In Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Mary Blair had a distinctive style that was
so outside the norm of the Disney studio and feeling creatively boxed she felt Disney animation
was not a great fit for her. So in, 1953 she amicably split from the studio and began her
career illustrating for advertisements and children’s books. As Walt was reflecting on how he could incorporate
the Disney element into his children of the world theme. Mary Blair’s art and style
kept creeping into his mind. Particularly, he kept going back to a segment she produced
in his 1940 film called The Three Caballeros. This short portion within the film, called
Los Posadas, showcased a group of Mexican children traditionally celebrating Christmas
by symbolically recreating the walk of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The
animation was subdued, barely any movement on-screen at all. But the design of the singing
children was singular and the piece carried a weight to it that Walt adored. Walt was convinced that Mary Blair’s style,
her fusion of contrasting colors and stylized shapes, was the way to go for the Children
of the World attraction. Walt believed if Imagineering could transition that standout
style to a 3D environment, they would have a distinctly artistic and charming attraction.
Walt reached out to his former artist with the request to oversee the design of the UNICEF
attraction, and she obliged, beginning work on the attraction just 9 months before fair
opening. Mary Blair quickly developed some concepts
featuring her distinctive style that would showcase the children from all around the
world. When they brought them to the Pepsi company. They were unimpressed and resistant,
considering backing out of the whole thing. But once again it was actress Joan Crawford
who practically scolded her fellow board members and told them they were going to complete
Walt’s Children of the World attraction. And they did. The attraction was officially announced to
the public in August of 1963, where Robert Moses head of the World’s Fair predicted
it would be one of the most popular exhibits of the entire thing. There was still a great deal of work to accomplish
in that time, mechanics to figure out and elements to fine-tune. Imagineering was fast
at work. Bob Gurr in tandem with the Arrow Development
Company would establish the iconic boat ride system. By utilizing hidden water jets and
varying guidance processes the boats could float along at an exactly desired speed. There
would be 72, 20 passenger boats, that would cruise throughout the fifteen hundred foot
long 120,000-gallon full waterway. This ingenious new system would allow for one of the highest
hourly capacities for any attraction at the Fair. The ride would feature well over 200 audio-animatronic
dolls, that the Imagineers loving coined as ‘rubber heads’. These rubber heads were
adapted from Mary Blair’s style seen in her concept art and children’s book illustrations.
They were challengingly brought into the third dimension by Imagineer Blaine Gibson and dressed
by Imagineer Alice Davis. As far as the clothing for each of the rubber
heads, Walt was adamant that no expense be spared. He informed Alice Davis to disregard
any budget, and that he wanted each to have the most beautiful costumes she could make.
The wardrobe that each of the rubber heads would be adorned in would be authentic to
the culture it was representing. This was important to Walt. In addition to the rubber heads, Imagineers
Rolly Crump and Jack Ferges designed and constructed nearly 250 various animatronic toys and animals
to be placed throughout the attraction. This ensured there was not only something but a
lot of things, to be seen in any direction you could possibly glance while on board. The influence of Mary Blair was significant
in the color and styling of each room of the attraction. Each transition from set to set
would be grand and noticeable as the hues would swap with each changing region. The
final scene would have the children of the world, the children of all nations, unite
together in white, in gold, and in harmony. Despite these intentionally contrasting differences
throughout the ride there was a specific element that was tying the whole attraction together. The original idea was that each scene featured
the authentic national anthem of that corresponding country. That just did not work. As the varying
melodies of different tones and voices, did not fuse well, making jarring transitions,
and it quotably became a “cacophony” of noise that would not work in attraction designed
to be enjoyable. Walt called upon his staff songwriters the
Sherman Brothers, who were fast composing music and lyrics for countless other Disney
and Disneyland productions like the Enchanted Tiki Room and the upcoming Carousel of Progress,
to write up a piece that could work for the Children of the World attraction. Walt wanted
it to be a round, something that could easily and endlessly be played on a loop, As he was explaining the message of purity
and togetherness he wanted the attraction to convey and the spirit of friendship he
wanted to hear in the song, he casually dropped the phrase ‘it’s a small world after all’,
never intending it to be used beyond a simple description. But the remark struck a chord
with the Sherman brothers who rapidly came up a simple ballad based around that concept.
They played it for Walt, who loved it. So much that it inspired him to change the name
of the attraction to It’s A Small World. The song is able to achieve the thematic desire
of the original intention and transitions to different languages throughout the attraction
seamlessly. During the ride, guests would hear It’s A Small World in English, Spanish,
Italian, Japanese, and Swedish. The instrumentation for each of the sections changes fluidly as
well, highlighting specific instruments crucial to the regions of the designated countries.
It’s been estimated that on a typical day, It’s A Small World would play through nearly
twelve hundred times. Pepsi-Cola Presents Walt Disney’s It’s
a Small World – A Salute to Unicef opened on April 22, 1964. Over the course of the
Fair, more than 10 Million people would enter into the attraction, boasting one of the highest
attendedances of the event. There was a cost to enter, a special admission
with the earnings supposedly going to support UNICEF. The price was 1 dollar for adults.
60 cents for kids. In addition to the attraction, guests would be prone to encounter Disney
characters and elements surrounding the Pavillion. From a visual standpoint, The main feature
of the area would be the Tower of the Four Winds. A twelve-story kinetic sculpture that
could be seen from all over the fairgrounds. It would serve as a visual magnet to bring
the guests in closer to the attraction, but it became iconic in its own right as a simple
meeting place for the entire Fair. “Meet me at the Tower of the Four Winds.’ The tower was designed by Rolly Crump and
it featured 52 moving pieces. Underneath was a gift shop, with its most popular item being
an LP recording of the ride narrated by Winston Hibler. It was also here under the Tower where guests
could make additional contributions towards Unicef, the focus of the entire Pavillion. As always intended upon the end of the fair,
the attraction would be disassembled and relocated to Anaheim. The Disneyland show building would
be a third larger than its Flushing Meadows counterpart, this not only gave Imaginners
more room to work with, but also more room to fill. So a few more scenes were added including
an area depicting the North Pole, and the Pacific Islands. This lengthened the cruise
from nine minutes to twelve minutes. Notably absent from the Disneyland installment
was the Tower of the Four Winds. The cost to relocate it to Disneyland was too much
to justify, and some rumors suggest that at the end of the fair it was cut up and ‘dumped’
into the nearby East river.’ But It’s A Small World in Disneyland would not be without
its distinctive architecture. The queue would begin outside as guests would
load into the boats amidst a variety of topiary. The facade also designed by Crump would be
adorned with whimsical turrets, and a plethora of varying representations of different world
landmarks, like the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower. The centerpiece of the facade would
be a large smiley faced clock thirty feet up that would happily rotate back and forth
every single second. Every fifteen minutes the clock would chime and guests in line would
be a met with a preshow of sorts, as each quarter would invite a parade of dancing toys
out of the the small doors beneath. This would prompt the actual time, via wooden blocks,
to be displayed. Crump had designed the exterior based on
another Mary Blair concept design, naturally, it was colorful like the rest of her artwork,
but from a maintenance, standpoint would be a nightmare. The California sun would bake
all the colors of the paint. Crump adapted her vision into white and gold which would
be more reasonable from an upkeep perpective, but would also more closely match the grand
finale of the attraction held within. It’s A Small World opened in Disneyland
on May 28, 1966. On hand for the dedication and festivities were 36 officials from varying
countries from all over the world, as well as the International Children’s choir of Long
Beah. As they dedicated the attraction, children form sixteen different nations poured water
from the “seven seas and the nine major lagoon’s” into the waterway. Walt himself
poured in Waters taken from the closeby Rivers of America. The dedication was fully genuine,
and not just for show. The water had been shipped into California from all over the
world at a high cost. The opening event was coined as Operation Water. Doves and balloons were released above to
signify joy and peace between the nations the ultimate dream of the attraction, and
that was that. It’s A Small World would be entertaining guests old and young for ages
to come. It’s A Small World is simple in almost every
way, simple shapes, simple colors, and simple floating. But its message of longing and achieveable
brotherhood is profound. It was a sentimental cruise, with a call to
action, to love one another, to live life with a childlike tenderness and an earworm
melody to bring it home. It’s A Small World instantly sailed into the hearts and minds
of a generation. Walt’s little boat ride. One night, Walt was casually touring the studio
as he often did and began chatting with Marc Davis in his workspace. Marc gladly updated
Walt on the developing Pirates attraction going over models and discussing concepts
he was a part of. While Marc had Walt he began showing him some
humorous concept artwork he working on for another attraction. He presented Walt with
a picture of a band of country music singing bears, it was planned for an entertaining
animatronic show to be featured as an accent in one of the restaraunts being designed for
Mineral King. Walt was amused. He loved it and, unrushed,
chuckled with Marc, as he showed him more gags that he created. He stayed as long as
Marc would keep him. Marc Davis, while loving the one on one time with the boss, could tell
something was unusual with Walt, the savoring way he was carrying himself and the conversation.
Something was off. At the end of their long exchange, Walt stood in the doorway preparing
to leave. Walt looked back toward his creative Imagineer. ‘Goodbye, Marc’, he said. Which
immediately struck him as strange because historically Walt was always one to say ’See
you later.’ This would be the last time Marc and Walt
spoke together. No one really knew the severity of Walt’s
condition, especially Walt himself. As far as the studio was aware, Walt would be gone
a few days. The explanation simple, just minor neck surgery for an old polo injury that had
been bothering him for years. But the truth would lead back far beyond then. Walt began
smoking cigarettes, unfiltered, as a young driver for the Red Cross during World War
1. Chesterfields were Walt’s brand of choice and he would smoke three packs a day, every
day, for the rest of his life. Walt had developed lung cancer. and with it
a tumor the size of a walnut. His visit to Providence St Joseph’s Medical Center in
November of 1966 had not been for any lasting polo injury, but for the partial removal of
one of his lungs. The operation was deemed mostly successful and after two weeks Walt
was sent home to recuperate and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with his family. It seemed
like things were going to be okay. But once Thanksgiving had passed, Walt’s condition
worsened, and he found himself on December 5, celebrating his 65th birthday, back in
the hospital. Walt over the next several days would be going
in and out of consciousness. The cancer was taking its toll. He had rapidly lost weight,
his face had become pale and gaunt, and he frequently groaned that his feet were cold.
Walt only allowed his close family in the room with him. He didn’t want anybody to
remember him this way. No one at the studio was aware of any of this. Walt’s big brother Roy was always there.
He stood at the edge of the hospital bed, gently rubbing Walt’s feet, making sure
his kid brother would stay as comfortable as he could. St. Joseph Medical Center was
just across the street from the Disney Studios. Roy ordered that the studio keep the lights
on overnight so that Walt could easily see the buildings from his bed. In his final conversation
with his brother, Walt was steady with excitement, as he vividly envisioned the layout of the
entire Florida Project against the tiles of the ceiling above his bed. He had so much
left to do. At 9:30 a.m. on December 15, the cancer took
its final blow as his heart quietly stopped, and Walt Disney passed on into the ages. He
was sixty-five years old. A nation was in mourning, and a world collectively
wept over the loss of history’s most fantastic and creative genius. A small service was held the next day for
his immediate family at the Little Church of the Flowers at Forest Lawn Cemetary in
Glendale, California. He was cremated a day later and interred in The Freedom Mausoleum.
According to his wishes, these ceremonies were extremely private and were announced
to the public after they took place. In 1956, Diane Disney wrote of her father.
“He never goes to a funeral if he can help it. If he had to go to one it plunges him
into a reverie which lasts for hours after he’s home. At such times he says, ‘When
I’m dead I don’t want a funeral. I want people to remember me alive.’ What a sentiment.
And what a reality. Walt left behind his wife Lillian, his two
daughters Diane and Sharon, his grandchildren, and siblings. As well as a flourishing company
and idealogy that had colored the world with the capacity to dream. One would be hard-pressed
to find himself unaffected by Walt and his influences. Walt would live on through a lasting legacy
and the powerful impact he had on on the culture. Through a catalog of drawings, shorts, television
programs, and movies, and most grandly a whole park that could and would spiritually retell
his story. Disneyland, when condensed down to its core
main themes, is arguably the best living and breathing reflection of the man Walt Disney. Main Street USA. Your first introduction to
Disneyland was mirrored after Walt’s first introductions to America. A reflection of
Walt’s boyhood American town, filled with pleasant memories of a bygone past. But this
Main Street is at a crossroads. A Main Street in motion. A Main Street on the move. Different
eras collide on this thoroughfare, modes of transportation are advancing. New technologies
are emerging as we walk down the middle. This was progress, and Walt couldn’t just sit
still. And while Walt loved his hometown America he had to get out and explore! He had to get
out and change the world. This was the blank yet increasingly detailed
canvas where Walt would begin his storied adventure. Main Street was a representation of Walt’s
longing blossoming patriotism and his love for country and nostalgia. Main Street USA
is Walt. Adventure. It was Walt’s spirit of adventure.
His thirst to shift the ordianry. A feeling that put him on a train from Kansas City to
Los Angeles, where he would continue to take massive leaps into the unfamiliar in an effort
to entertain the world. This hunger would send Walt around the globe, finding goodwill
and amity in other cultures, peoples, and places, Walt was an ambassador of experience.
Adventureland was a representation of Walt’s courage, and his willingness to explore the
unknown to achieve his dreams, no matter the consequences. Adventureland is Walt. Frontier. Frontier by definition means the
discovery of the farthermost limits of knowledge and achievement. It may not have been within
the limits of tract and territory like the era that Frontierland itself pays homage to,
but surely Walt was a frontiersman in his own right, in the areas of American entertainment
and technology. Walt saw a monochrome tree and said let’s give it color, he saw a fairy-tale
and said let’s make it longer, he saw his girls on a merry-go-round and said, let’s
make a place, Walt saw a mechanical bird in a cage and said let give them a show. Frontierland
was a representation of Walt’s adoration for discovery, and his ceaseless desire to
push the boundaries of innovation in whatever path that was before him. Frontierland is
Walt. Fantasy. Where would any of this be without
Walt’s dreams. That creativity that brought a mouse to life, a princess to song, and a
castle to California. The beauty of Fantasyland is that the fantastical things there are no
longer make-believe. They have been pulled from our daydreams and are actively before
us in physical form. Imagination is the sixth sense as fantasy becomes real and Walt’s
story of inspiration safeguards the wish that our wildest ambitions are never out of reach.
Fantasyland was a representation of Walt’s imagination and his special brand of creativity
that made make-believe genuine. Fantasyland is Walt. Tomorrow. Walt pined for the nostalgia of
the life lived before him, he carried his heart safely in a wistful appreciation for
the days of past, but he fully had his mind in the world of the future. Disney lived for
today, fondly remembered yesterday, and dreamed of an incredible future formed by the collective
of humanity and the potential of all its collaborative achievements. A Progress City where technology
and design made living together in unity, the easiest, if not the only, option. Tomorrowland
was a representation of Walt’s hopeful optimism, and his love for emerging technology and his
visions of a hopeful and united world. Tomorrowland is Walt. Walt was regularly quoted as saying It was
all started by a mouse. All of it. The films, the park, the memories, all traced back to
one Mickey Mouse. It was all started by a mouse, he’d say. This is an opinion that
can be greatly challenged. The matter was, it was all started by a man. A man with a
dream. A man with countless dreams. A man with the drive to pull them from figments
and make them so. . 
Walt Disney was the ultimate dreamer, from his hard beginnings in middle America to his
ending days as the amicable Uncle of the world, he lived with one goal. He sought to bring
joy to the world, by doing the things he loved. He was an example of passion It was never
easy for him, along with his successes he had equal failures. But them never kept him
down. There was never any before, and there would never be again, another like Walt Disney. In the subsequent months, there was massive
change amidst the company. Without its creator to champion it, Walt’s unique vision of
a Community of the Future was tabled. Some aspects The Ski Resort Mineral King fell through
and it was cancelled. Disney Animation would stagnate for a bit as they attempted to find
their new legs and create new stories without their sheapard. But Disneyland… what was
Disneyland going to do…. Disneyland had to keep going… On December 16, 1966, the day after Walt’s
time with us was up. Disneyland opened at 9 am, just as it had the day before and just
as it would every day after for the foreseeable future. And Walt would be there.

9 thoughts on “It’s A Walt World After All || The Disneyland Chronicles – Year Thirteen // 1966

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *