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Topic: I'm going to meet an Imagineer!, Meet w/ a former Imagineer of Walt's< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
PeopleMover Offline
Erin




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Posted: June 02, 2006, 12:27 pm Quote

This Saturday, I'm going to meet one of the original Disneyland Imagineers!  In fact, he was an Imagineer before they were called that, when Walt just referred to those draftsman as the WedWay group.  This man was one of the people who worked on the Matterhorn design!  He has a certificate from Walt showing he was one of the people who worked on the Disneyland for its opening, and his daughter (a friend of mine, and how I'm going to meet him) told me a story of how he was working in the original drafts room and how Walt Disney came in, like he did each morning, and stopped at the different desks to discuss details of each project.  And how excited he was when Walt stopped at his desk to talk about his section of the Matterhorn design.

I'm so excited!!  

Erin
:wwww:


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Todd Kilgore




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Posted: June 02, 2006, 12:48 pm Quote

That does sound like a fascinating opportunity.  I mean there must have been a lot of people working on that project, but it is a real part of history.  I hope that you will share with us what you learn from him
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Erin




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Posted: June 02, 2006, 1:00 pm Quote

Quote (Toddkilgore @ June 02, 2006 12:48 am/pm)
That does sound like a fascinating opportunity.  I mean there must have been a lot of people working on that project, but it is a real part of history.

Exactly.  This man isn't one of the famous names, but he was a real working Imagineer, part of many great projects, and working in Disney parks at the inception.

It's like that tour, Dine with an Imagineer.  None of those people are famous (one guy did graphic art for signs around the parks), but they each have an interesting insight on what imagineering is like, and this man -- David Anderson -- can tell me about being there when Walt was alive and involved in all the details for his park.

Actually, Mr. Anderson could have sold popcorn on Main St., and I'd probably be interested.  :bigsmile:

Quote
I hope that you will share with us what you learn from him


Absolutely!


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eas423 Offline
Beth, Poly princess ;)




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Posted: June 02, 2006, 1:19 pm Quote

What an amazing oppurtunity!  I would love to hear all the details about your conversation with him!!

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Beth °o°
VMK - Cindabell

Past WDW trips:
'83 - Contemporary
'99 - Grad Night, offsite
'03 - Day trip MK
'04 - Day trip MK
'05  - Poly LVC; POFQ Christmas trip
'06 - Poly/Saratoga Springs

           

The family Christmas trip has been postponed for a few years...but there's a baby on the way!!!


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Caroline




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Posted: June 02, 2006, 10:39 pm Quote

On Friday, May 26th, my husband and I had the "Lunch with an Imagineer" at MGM. His name is Steve Grant, a Disney architect,  who helped to design Sunset Blvd, the new Action Stunt Show from Paris, and a number of other Disney projects. What an interesting man! As I read abut your visit, I thought of how many "not so famous" people have the most fascinating stories to relate - they make Disney come alive!!
Hope you had a great visit with him.  Caroline


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Erin




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Posted: June 04, 2006, 2:52 pm Quote

What a great night we had!!!

I wrote up a report on it, but it's long.  Is there a problem with me posting it here, maybe breaking down into parts?


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Dale




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Posted: June 04, 2006, 3:37 pm Quote

never.  You decide if you want to break it in parts or not.

76800 characters per post however.


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Dale-not-Chip
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Rich Koster




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Posted: June 04, 2006, 4:31 pm Quote

Erin, a motto I created for the Disney Echo back in the days when it was not on the internet yet (but on the FidoNet worldwide network) was...

Details! We want DETAILS!!!


Use up as much disk space as you want! We're all ears!! :hear:


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RichKoster
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“Dreams Do Come True Down In New Orleans.”
Disney's "The Princess and the Frog"

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Posted: June 04, 2006, 4:34 pm Quote

Caroline, I'd like to hEAR from you, too! How about you posting a trip report about what it was like having lunch with an Imagineer?
:hear:

For both topics -- yours, Caroline as well as yours, Erin -- how about putting them into the Disney Echo's Disney Imagineering forum.
:bowdown:


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RichKoster
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Erin




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Posted: June 04, 2006, 5:51 pm Quote

What a great night! He said so many great things, and I could have sat there and listened forever! I hope I remember all he said!

By the way, if I get some fact wrong, please be understanding and let me know.  We discussed so much, I might have misheard or misunderstood.

He went to school for engineering and trained to be a draftsman.  This was the time before Disney was on TV every week, but of course Walt was still interviewed and he was always struck by how well Walt represented himself and the company.  Even in that more "limited" exposure, he told his family after seeing some interview, Someday, I want to work for that man.

The funny thing is how he actually did end up working for Disney.

Some of these things you may already know, but I'm putting them down in case you (like me) don't.

During WWII, the UK was angry over America not jumping into the war when Hitler attacked them and other places in Europe.  They seized funds belonging to American corporations.  And then when America was involved, it took quite a long time for these assets to be freed up due to the scope of the way. That included Disney.  A great deal of funds was frozen in the UK, money that Walt and Roy needed. That's when they started doing (amidst other things) films like Treasure Island, Rob Roy etc. but for a reason I didn't know.  Roy Disney had met this man who owned a Christian film making co.  This man contacted Roy and suggested Disney making films from books (like Treasure Island) and sending them out to schools.  It was a source they hadn't tapped like that, plus going into 16mm instead of Cinescope.

The former Imagineer I spoke with last night had gotten a job out of school for this Christian film co, organizing distribution of the films.  He ended up meeting the young man who was handling the Disney film end out of the same warehouse, and they became friends.

That man was Dick Cook, now Chairman of Disney Films!

So Mr. Anderson ended up coming into Disney through a side door, so to speak: through learning 16mm films and working with Dick Cook.  With the Disneyland ever expanding, within his 4th week of being at Disney, they saw his draftsman experience and moved him to the project.

This was when Imagineering didn't exist.  They were part of WED Enterprises.  They (all the engineers who were the only part of the project at this point) were put into a warehouse that was a couple blocks from the backlot of the Studios.  

Walt was in a bit "of trouble" with Roy.  When 20K leagues came along, Walt wanted to go 3 million on the movie instead of the 2 million, he convinced Roy it was necessary to build their own tank for the squid scene. Only 2 such tanks existed and they were being used. Roy approved it, but Walt went even more overbudget on the film.  Roy told him that his brother could no longer afford 20K AND "that carnival you want to build".

So Walt went behind his brother's back, betting that he could make Roy see how good Disneyland could be if it was drafted down. (And of course, 20K Leagues made more than its budget back.)  He rented that warehouse and picked his team.  Instead of the studio environment they were used to, Walt had a vision of an environment necessary to build something like a theme park.  He wanted to take a movie, which is height and width, and give it depth.  People would walk into the movie by walking into the places in Disneyland.  So he created the ideas of a large space with wheeled tables for sketches and more importantly, the models that could be moved, walked through like people would eventually do etc.  It's the working atmosphere you see in the Disneyland 10th anniversary show.

But 6 weeks into it, it wasn't working.  The men were frustrated doing something they had no experience with.  They were packed together in a warehouse and getting on each other's nerves.  Walt heard the frustrations pouring out of there and showed up in the middle of the work day.  He had them all gather around and told this story.

(The Imagineer who told me this got it from one of the 9 old men.  He said 2 of the others tell a similar story but some changes.  Like Walt Disney himself, they were storytellers and details got changed for a better story.  however, this seemed to be the the underlying truth in all of them:)

In his hometown, a 10 year old boy wanted more than anything to join the circus.  He vowed the next time a circus came to town, he'd was leaving with it.  2 years later, one came to town and he was at the manager's trailer as soon as the steps were down.  The manager said he couldn't take a 12 year old boy w/o his parents permission. But the boy had thought of that and gotten his mother to write a letter, giving permission.  Only a few jobs were available at the circus, most of them the boy couldn't do like handle the wild animals.  The manager said he had an opening for a trombone player and the boy excitedly said that he'd take that job.

The next day was the parade for the town, truly announcing the circus was open.  The manager stood at the other end of Main St. to watch his people.  From around the corner, amidst the other music, came the flat and off tune notes from a trombone.  The boy marched down Main St., beaming and proud, and HORRIBLE!  The manager yelled at him later, "Why didn't you tell me you couldn't play the trombone?"  The boy replied, "I didn't know I couldn't play trombone.  I never tried it before so I couldn't know.  Just because I didn't never tried something doesn't mean I can't do it."

Walt Disney started walking amongst his initial team to build Disneyland, and he started flicking the end of his tie.  For the first time they noticed: it had trombones on it.  When he was done, he told them, "Just because you've never built a theme park doesn't mean you can't do it."  Already charged to give Walt his theme park after his talk, he smiled at them and told them that he was going on national TV the next week and announced what a great job they were already doing.

Mr. Anderson told me that he always kept that quote in his head through his life: just because I've never done something, doesn't mean I can't.  Instead of staying in retirement, he teaches film classes now and is a consultant for set designs in theater etc.  On the first day of every class, he tells them that circus story.


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