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