Did you know How Disneyland Started?
Fastpassfacts and Van Eaton Galleries will take you back to September 1953, to the weekend that’s known as “The Lost Weekend”. Don’t know what the lost weekend is? Stick with us and we’ll tell you all about it!
So, September 1953. Walt Disney wants to build Disneyland but he can’t afford it and he realizes he needs something visual to convince investors of the magic that Disneyland will bring to its guests from all around the world!
And so, while Roy Disney was setting up meetings in New York with potential investors, Walt was going crazy thinking about what they should do to make it happen.
On Saturday, September 26, 1953, Walt called Herb Ryman, one of the best artists that Walt could think of, and asked him to meet him at the Disney Studios. When Herb got there, Walt asked him to help him draw the plans that were going to make this dream happen. Walt needed Herb to draw a large map of Disneyland so that Roy could take it to New York the following week. But Herb got a little nervous, he felt pressure because he thought there was not enough time and he was really worried that he wouldn’t do as amazing a job as Walt needed by rushing the project. But Walt, being as great as he was, convinced Herb to work on the map by telling him they’re going to work together on the project day and night at the studio and that he’s going to do an excellent job!
And so, over those two days, Walt and Herb worked on the map. Walt described every aspect of the park very specifically to Herb, and Herb used a pencil and a large sheet of vellum paper to draw it exactly as Walt imagined. When they were done drawing the map on the vellum sheet, they transferred it to a more durable sheet, where it was hand-colored and adhered to a presentation board so that Roy could take it to New York. And we have this map to thank for the successful presentation that led to the funding to build Disneyland!!
After the presentation, Roy came back with the map and over the next year, this same map was used by Walt in many development meetings to help design the park. Later, in 1954, it was inked again by hand, but this time adding darker and bolder lines, with more color and lots of new details like an additional train car, a new monument on Main Street, an enhanced Disneyland scroll along the bottom and much more. After the new enhancements, the map was used in September of 1954 as the first image of Disneyland revealed to the general public!
This map was used to promote Disneyland for a long time until March of 1955, just 4 months before the park’s opening Disney was done using the map because they had newer maps that resembled more closely how the park looked on opening day, and so Grenade Curran, Walt’s employee, and friend, came up to him and asked; “What are you going to with the map? Can I have it?” And Walt turned around, looked at him and said “You can have it” and he kept it for over 60 years out of the view of the public. But now, the map is returning to light in the Van Eaton Galleries’ upcoming exhibition and auction, “Walt Disney’s Disneyland” where you will not only find this amazing piece of Disneyland history but lots of more Disneyland collectibles that you can’t miss!
The exhibit opened on June 2nd and will run through June 24th, and the auction itself will be held on June 25th!
Go check it out because it’s going to be amazing!