Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Imagineering History: Touring My Mecca Pt. 2

After seeing how they converted the annals of Disney history to digital, we were lucky enough to view some of the most glorious artifacts that exist in the archives.

I got to see the original, up close and personal. It was amazing. 
We were brought into a room that had a number of large, metal cabinets. Our host had set up three hand-drawn, framed plans for the original plans for a Disney park adjacent to the studios in Burbank. These original drawing were pretty fantastic, but not nearly as amazing as what was to come.

Our host had put some thought into planning this, as he then took us from the three Burbank park plans, over to a video set up on a MacBook pro of Herb Ryman, or Herbie as our host affectionately referred to him as, discussing in an interview how he and Walt stayed up for a weekend drawing the original plan for Disneyland to show the bankers in New York to get funding for the park. Then, in a well-planned reveal, our host pulled back curtains to reveal that exact hand-drawn, large scale pencil rendering of the plans for Disneyland.

It was amazing. I almost cried. Here I was, standing in front of what was essentially the drawing that started it all. The Disney parks are my favorite aspect of the company besides Walt himself, and here in front of me was a piece of history that was made up equally of both. From the hands of a legendary imagineer and the mind of Walt himself, I almost didn't know how to take it all in. It was like meeting my idol.

The schematic itself was on a rolling wire-mesh wall, with many walls like it in front of it and behind. Hung on those walls were many other original Herb Ryman paintings and drawings, as well as other famous pieces or Disney park art. It was a lot to take in.

We were then shown some of the original silk-screened attraction posters. It was a funny coincidence that I had just started pinning these, and it was an experience to see all these, right there, in stacks. I wish I could have walked away with a couple.

On another wall, behind another curtain, were both the original concept paintings of the stretching room, and ones used on stage. Right there in front of my face, as creepy as ever. It was phenomenal.

After reluctantly pulling myself away from the room, we went to our hosts office which he shares with Vanessa Hunt, one of the two authors behind the new"Poster Art of the Disney Parks" book. I got to meet her, and was bummed I didn't have my copy with me to get signed. Alas it will not arrive until September and is completely sold out at the parks. It was enough just meeting her.

In the office, we were shown the software that the archivists and others use to access the digitized archives. Man, the pinning potential!

Also, sitting in a corner was Figment, an original from Epcot, all nonchalantly. That's just how it is when you're in a building with the most amazing Disney artifacts. Something that could be a spectacular piece on its own is no big deal. It's a weird, overwhelming feeling.

After getting a preview of the Poster art book, while standing in front of its author, we headed over to the WDI gift shop. If I we're a pinning man, I'd have dropped some serious dough on the WDI exclusive pins. Heck, I should have as someone who appreciates a nice ROI, but I'm not. Instead, I got myself two t-shirts: a classic WED Imagineering tee and a more modern, yet equally classic WDI shirt with the blueprint of Sleeping Beauty castle as a background. My girlfriend, in my opinion, got a much more interesting shirt, with an original Disneyland Date night flyer on it. Girls apparel is always more interesting than mens. Always.

It was then that we had to leave. It was a sad moment, but not so sad, because our connection to the place will always be around, and another tour is not impossible.

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