Interview: Disneyland’s Opening Day

Sleeping Beauty Castle 60th

I hope you enjoy these excerpts from interviews I did with people who were at Disneyland on its opening day on July 17, 1955.
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1:26 Harriet Burns, of the Imagineering model shop, talks about having to be at various positions in Disneyland on its opening day; Crowds and counterfeit tickets and heat; Melting asphalt; The day before Disneyland opened there was a gap in Tomorrowland; The Disney staff’s thoughts about Disneyland

4:41 Cubby O’Brien was a very young boy debuting as a Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer at the opening day of Disneyland

6:19 Mouseketeer Sherry Alberoni Van Meter won a prize to attend Disneyland on its opening day; Serving ice cream for Walt Disney

8:25 Bobby Burgess danced with the other Mouseketeers on Disneyland’s opening day and it was hot; Disneyland parade; A special memory of riding the Skyway a few years later

10:31 Sculptor Blaine Gibson attended Disneyland’s opening with his wife; The heat; Blaine’s assistant Jack Ferges did not have a good experience

12:10 Marketing guru and president of Disneyland, Jack Lindquist was at the park on opening day as a guest of Kelvinator; Crowds and heat; Tickets had different times on them but the guests didn’t leave; Jack’s five year old son had an experience on the Canal Boats attraction; Eddie Meck was the publicity person for Disneyland; Jack knew Eddie Meck since he was a kid; Eddie Meck helped turn upset members of the press into fans of Disneyland

16:43 Miriam Nelson choreographed the performances for Disneyland’s opening day; Choosing a white knight and black knight for the opening of the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty castle; Dancers got lost; New Orleans dance problems; Little boy tap dancer was not at his spot; The characters at the opening of Fantasyland; Frontierland was supposed to have cement for dancers who danced to “Bang! Went Old Betsy”; Walt Disney

Interview: Blaine Gibson (Haunted Mansion; Pirates; If You Had Wings)

by Scott Wolf

Blaine Gibson at the Walt Disney Studios, 1993
Blaine Gibson at the
Walt Disney Studios, 1993

Blaine Gibson began his Disney career as an inbetweener on a Pluto cartoon short film “Bone Trouble,” and then on “Fantasia” and “Pinocchio” and as an assistant animator on“Bambi.” Blaine eventually began sculpting for Disney, creating the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean, ghosts in the Haunted Mansion, Abraham Lincoln for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, all the president before Barrack Obama for Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom, Mark Twain and others for the American Adventure in Epcot, and much more. Blaine also sculpted the Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

1:52 The Haunted Mansion; Developing three dimension characters from Marc Davis’ drawings

3:18 The inverted concavity busts whose eyes seem to follow you; Sculptor George Snowden and Yale Gracey, special effects wizard; Working on Disneyland and animating; the first Mickey Mouse head

6:35 Yale Gracey and the technique to create multiple sea gulls from Blaine’s animation for the If You Had Wings attraction in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

8:30 Sculpting the head for Leota Toombs (the Imagineer who appears in the crystal ball in the Haunted Mansion) and a problem with the materials used to capture her life mask

10:13 Basing his sculptures on people – a worker at Disney Studios had a great head