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.”
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".