Disney Legend Herb Ryman was born in Vernon, Illinois. Ryman had an illustrious Disney career and cemented his legacy as the artist Walt Disney turned to when he needed someone to translate his dream of Disneyland onto paper.
Ryman worked as a storyboard illustrator at MGM before joining the Walt Disney Studio in 1938. He would work on animated features, including Fantasia and Dumbo. On September 26, 1953, Walt called Herb Ryman over to the studio and they spent the weekend putting together concept art and pitch documents for Roy to take to New York for meetings with potential investors. The Disneyland concept map drawn by Ryman over the weekend was the first comprehensive look at what Walt was planning.
Among Ryman’s many contributions in the design of Disneyland was the look of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Ryman visited the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, which became the inspiration for the castle, and provided sketches that were then used by legendary Disney model maker Harriet Burns to create scale mock-ups. Ryman then painted the models, including the sky blue tops for the turrets which are a signature of all Disney Park castles.
As the design work for Disneyland moved forward, Ryman drew concept art for areas of the park including Frontierland, the Jungle Cruise and Main Street, U.S.A. Constructing and opening the park in less than a year was an extraordinary experience for those involved. Ryman said “It was frantic, frantic work on the part of everybody. In fact, now that I look back on it, I don’t know how it got done. I really don’t.”
Morgan “Bill” Evans was born in Santa Monica, California. As Disney Imagineering Legend Marty Sklar describes him, “Bill defined Disney theme park landscaping.”
Walt Disney’s first encounter with the Evans family came years before Disneyland was planned. According to Disney Imagineer Paul Comstock, a young Walt purchased roses from the Evans and Reeves Nursery for the Disney family home in the San Fernando Valley. Many years later, Walt hired Bill and his brother Jack to landscape the backyard at his Holmby Hills home which also incorporated Walt’s Carolwood Pacific backyard railroad. In 1954, the Evans brothers were asked to landscape a theme park project Walt was going to build in Anaheim.
In an interview with author Jim Korkis in 1985, Bill talked about how much Walt valued landscaping: “Fortunately for us, he wanted a lot of green plant stuff. That was one of the elements Walt felt would separate his park from the Coney Island format.” One of the biggest challenges in landscaping the park was finding the large, adult trees that would appear to park guests as though they’d been there for years. As luck would have it, the construction of Disneyland coincided with the building of a number of freeways throughout the Southern California region. Bill and his team made arrangements with freeway construction crews to dig, box and ship trees slated to be bulldozed over to Disneyland. Bill told Jim Korkis: “When I’m at Disneyland, I can tell you tree after tree. This one was from the Santa Monica freeway and that one was from the Pomona freeway and so on.”
After Disneyland opened, Bill was given the title of director of landscape architecture. He oversaw Disneyland additions as well as the master plan for Walt Disney World.
In 1990, a Main Street, U.S.A. window above the Opera House was dedicated in his honor. It reads: “Evans Gardens, Exotic & Rare Species, Freeway Collections, Est. 1910, Morgan (Bill) Evans, Senior Partner.” The Freeway Collections mention is a nice nod to the trees he “rescued” from the bulldozers and transported to the park. Bill was named a Disney Legend in 1992.
This poor bandstand was moved many times at Disneyland. Originally located in Town Square, shortly before the park was opened, it was realized that this large structure would block the view of the Castle and disrupt the cinematic “long shot” desired looking down Main Street.
Its next residence was near the castle, where it resided until Walt decided that the Disneyland Band needed a more permanent stage. John Hench sketched up a few ideas for the Carnation Plaza Gardens and the bandstand was moved (again), approximately July 1956; this time to Adventureland, in an area known as Magnolia Park, located between the Jungle Cruise and the Chicken Plantation Restaurant. When the Jungle Cruise expanded in 1962, the addition of the Elephant Bathing Pool meant that the Bandstand had reached the end of the line at Disneyland.
The next (and final) owner was Rogers Gardens. According to Rogers Gardens, The City of Anaheim called the owner of Roger’s Gardens around 1975 and said that they were going to throw the gazebo away and if Rogers wanted it, they had to come get it by the next day. A very large truck was rented and the Bandstand was relocated.
It is now a favorite resting spot in the gardens, and Rogers is making a new sign that advertises the fact that it truly is the original Disneyland Band Gazebo. Rogers themselves started out in Costa Mesa, moving to its present location of Corona Del Mar in January 1970. In the mid-1970s, Roger’s Gardens acquired the ‘Original Disneyland Bandstand’ (Gazebo) from Disneyland and moved it to the gardens in Corona del Mar, CA. During the holiday season, Santa would hold court inside the bandstand, listening to children share their Christmas wishes. Now the bandstand resides within the Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens, a farm-to-table restaurant, and serves as a special place for customers and visitors to dine.
New Orleans Square is exclusive to Disneyland, based on 19th century New Orleans. At the opening, Walt Disney made then-mayor of the real New Orleans, Victor H. Schiro, the mayor of New Orleans Square.
Before New Orleans Square was built, Holidayland stood in its place. When it was designed, New Orleans Square was meant to be a perfect square, although now it is difficult to determine where New Orleans Square ends and Frontierland begins (Frontierland’s original New Orleans section is where the River Belle Terrace building is currently located). This area contains two of the most popular Disneyland attractions: Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. The exterior of the Haunted Mansion was actually constructed in 1962, but Imagineers took several years to develop the attraction. The completed ride opened on August 9, 1969. Pirates of the Caribbean opened March 18, 1967.
Morse code can be heard from the telegraph at the train station in New Orleans Square. The transmission is the first two sentences from Walt’s opening day speech on July 17, 1955: “To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.”
This area has featured live jazz music since its inception, including The Royal Street Bachelors and Delta Ramblers. The Side Street Strutters have performed weekly since 1985. Teddy Buckner and His Jazz All-Stars were regulars in the ’80s. Teddy was often mistaken for Louis Armstrong and even played him once in a film. His famous band was busy entertaining the generals and VIP’s in WW2.
In 2006, the French Market restaurant featured the Jambalaya Jazz Band, including a live singer “Queenie,” who also performs outside the Disney Gallery several times a day. The Bootleggers pirate band also performs nearby.
“Disney” hotel although not Disney owned until 1988. Disneyland construction costs kept Disney from building a hotel. Disney approached a number of hotel chains in 1954, but all felt that the Disneyland venture was too risky. Instead, he negotiated a deal with his friend Jack Wrather to build and operate one. Wrather had the rights to use the Disneyland Hotel name on any hotel in California until 2054. Four years after Wrather died, The Walt Disney Co. bought the entire Wrather Corporation, which also gave them the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach and the rights to The Lone Ranger & Lassie TV Series.
Designed by the firm of Pereira & Luckman, the initial 100 room capacity hotel opened on October 5, 1955, approximately 3 months after Disneyland opened. At the official ribbon-cutting ceremony (held much later on August 25, 1956) for the $10,000,000 development were Bonita Granville Wrather, Alan Ladd, Mrs. Helen Alvarez, Jack Wrather Jr., Jack Wrather III, Mrs. Jack Wrather Sr., Yvonne DeCarlo, and William Bendix. A tour of the hotel and dinner in the private banquet room followed the dedication ceremonies.
At the time of opening, the hotel featured a heated Olympic-size swimming pool, a children's wading pool with a lighted and colored water fountain, a huge restaurant, convention center, shopping center, golf course, and shuffleboard courts. Each room had its own parking space as well as a private patio or balcony and a TV! The luxury rooms had wide-screen color TV!
Free shuttle tram service left the hotel every five minutes, whisking guests off to Disneyland. Eventually the hotel featured the Monorail Plaza, a shopping center built in June 1961 and demolished in the late 1990’s for Downtown Disney. The hotel consisted of three guest room towers: Marina, Sierra, and Bonita. Other buildings in the complex house restaurants, stores, offices, recreational facilities, and convention/banquet facilities.
The off-center placement of an exterior elevator shaft at the Sierra Tower created space constraints which required the neon sign atop the building to read “Hotel Disneyland.” During a 1966 expansion, the sign was corrected. The sign was later removed and replaced with a mural featuring shooting stars.
The Shipyard Inn and the Sailmaker's Den opened when the Marina debuted on Saturday, March 28, 1970. The Marina had a very limited opening in December of 1969, but it is more likely the restaurant opened in early 1970. The Shipyard Inn continued operations until being closed on January 3, 1999, when it was replaced by Hook's Pointe Restaurant and Wine Cellar on April 8, 1999.
You can view the slideshow below for more amazing images.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".
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