Friday, July 22, 2011

Disneyland Model and Rod Miller

Walt Museum

On Disneyland’s 56th birthday, the Walt Disney Family Museum was hosting an event: “Disneyland Model: Creating the Disneyland of Walt's Imagination.” For those of you who have yet to visit the Walt Disney Museum, their Disneyland model, located in Gallery 9, is considered by many patrons to be the museum’s crowning jewel. The model is actually called The Disneyland of Walt's Imagination, for it represents a park that never was. What I mean by that is, it contains attractions that never co-existed in Disneyland, like Space Mountain and the Carousel of Progress (even though Space Mountain opened 11 years after Walt passed, he was very much a part of its original planning process back in the mid 1960s).

We weren't allowed to take pics so this is all you're gettin'!

Carol Bauman from Kerner Optical, the design company that produced the model, was there to fill us in on how the model came to be. Kerner Optical has provided services for some of Hollywood’s biggest films, from Pirates of the Caribbean to the second Star Wars trilogy.

The model was built at Kerner’s facility in San Rafael, California (about 30 minutes north of San Francisco), and upon completion was transported via van (gingerly!) down Highway 101 and across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Walt Disney Museum in the Presidio. Here are some cool tidbits Carol shared with us:

-The original idea for the model was for it to be largely mechanical, where entire sections could change to reflect different eras in Disneyland’s history. They scrapped that idea due to fears of never-ending maintenance.
-To recreate the Rivers of America, they actually painted that section of the model green and placed blue shower door material over it to simulate depth and movement.
-They started the model with Tom Sawyer’s Island and worked their way counter-clockwise, ending at Tomorrowland.
-Frontierland was the most time-consuming section, taking three months to complete. Each subsequent land only took about a month each.
-Carol’s favorite section, the Rainbow Caverns, has real black light paint and black light lamps.
-The second to last thing added was Space Mountain. The workers were dreading that piece because of its large size compared to the rest of the items they had to build.
-The last “portion” to go into the model was the mini orange grove, which was meant to represent the land Disneyland was originally built on.
-The very last thing to be added to the model was the boats, because Carol had to paint the little waves around them.
-There are two “Hidden Walts” in the model; both are him with his daughter/museum co-founder Diane Disney Miller. One is them in a red Autopia car, the other is them near the castle.
-Speaking of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, that was the only piece that was not done by Kerner Optical. Disney Imagineers took that honor.
-The entire project took about nine months from beginning to end, which Carol appropriately compared to having a baby.
-Half of the crew that worked on the incredible model of Disneyland… has never been to Disneyland!

Just after the event

Thank you Carol for the wonderful presentation.

And guess who else was at the Walt Disney museum on the 17th!

Mid-playing he noticed me and flashed a smile!

Rod Miller himself! For you Disney World folks, Rod Miller was a staple at Main Street in Disneyland for over 35 years until his retirement in 2006. He provided so many great memories for countless guests throughout his time at the park. He truly is ragtime, and it was very cool to hear him play again.

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