Monday, June 08, 2009

Walt in the park

This lucky young lass happened to run smack dab into Walt in front of the Town Square Fire Department, and as usual, he was gracious enough to stop and pose with her. Walt was a celebrity in his own right, as he appeared weekly on practically everyone’s television set on the Disneyland TV show that helped finance the park. Imagine this girl’s thrill when she got to see the genius behind the park that she was visiting.

Here’s a previously posted shot of Walt over in Tomorrowland, happily posing with a group of children. They sure are happy with their good fortune!

Just how famous was Walt? He was so famous that in this July 27, 1955 candid, the photographer went to the trouble of putting an “X-marks-the-spot” to show Walt’s backside so that everyone would know for posterity that he/she had captured Walt on film.

These photos show how different times are today. There is no way that a celebrity of Walt’s magnitude could walk through the park unaccompanied without being mobbed or hounded by the paparazzi. Looking around, you can see that there is no mob scene and that people are not acting unruly or shoving others aside to get a photo. I’ve said it before and will probably comment on it again; it would be much more interesting for some of the Disney fan sites to write about how the guest has changed over the last 50 years rather than endlessly bemoan about how the park has changed. It might make some of those changes easier to understand.

See more Disneyland photos at my website.


SparkleFarkel said...

Growing up with just my Mom and sister, it was Mr. Disney who I chose to be my dad. Even though he was always away on business (the BEST, MaGiCal business ever!), I never worried about getting mail or phone calls from him as we comminicated telepathically, as only a young, swelled-imagination kid could hope for! It was so much fun knowing I was Mickey Mouse's little sister, too! Great blog-- thanks!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Nice post Dave, I always like seeing photos of Walt at his park. Yes, where exactly are Walt's "Handlers" and "White shirt security" team?

I agree there is no way a celebrity of Walt's magnitude could walk the park unattended today, it seriously wouldn't even be safe.

On the other hand, is there really ANY current celebrity of Walt's Magnitude? I offer the answer; no.

Thufer said...

thank you, these are very special. the middle pic has been around, the top and bottom ones are new to me. how lucky any one was to be in the park and meet walt. i was there then as a child, but never was lucky enough to run into him.

very special, and no, there is no one like him

Katella Gate said...

Ever wonder what Walt said to those kids? I friend of mine (Jobie, about age 10)had an uncle that worked at Disneyland in the late 50's, and was able to get in on a comp pass.

On a break, the uncle took Jobie backstage between Walt's apartment and the Jungle Cruise to show him some of the "secret parts" of the park.

Well they got back there and Walt comes around the corner. The uncle thinks he's been busted big time, but Walt just walks up and starts chatting.

"Hi, what's your name? Where you from? Been here before? What have you seen? What was your favorite thing at Disneyland? What didn't you like? What's your favorite thing on TV? Favorite toy?"

Now, looking at this as adults, we all realize that Walt's conducting a marketing survey, but Jobie didn't feel like he was being grilled for information, it was all very natural and conversational, and he got to ask Walt all kinds of things that a 10 year old would ask... the whole conversation took maybe 10 minutes.

It turned out to be one of the high points of Jobie's life.

Chiana said...

A Thousand-Watt smile on that girl's face in the 2nd pic. Priceless.

Walt didn't seem to be marketing Katella because he was interested. He could use that for business but it would be informing his understanding of what people might like... a more "organic" approach I guess it might be called today, that allowed for more input from the guest and Walt.

But about celebrities visiting the park. How much is true and how much perception? Have celebrities tried mixing in without handlers recently? If so do we know how it went? And paparazzi aren't guests, they're professional parasites. :p Disney could throw them out.

There have been cultural shifts, some folks are bad and many more crass. Characterizing hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people as "the guest" to assign negative attributes isn't right either though. I wouldn't fuss a "celebrity" and must of us at the blog here probably wouldn't either... for every bad apple you can extrapolate us times a thousand too. Still it's true a few bad apples do have a way of spoiling things.

One problem might be how many folks are often packed into that park today (some in the company are probably moaning they want more). The crowd/pace might up the tension in a bad way? Hm. Also have to agree, there's no Walt.

Daveland said...

Chiana - I was at the premiere for Pirates 3, and I can attest that as the celebrities walked down the red carpet, people behind the ropes were going nuts. When Orlando Bloom passed the roped off area and entered Frontierland (where park guests were not allowed), he had to be rushed through the Frontierland stores to avoid all of the female fans who were trying to mob the poor guy. Actually, my commentary on the changing of the guests had more to do with how guests look and conduct themselves in general at the park, not so much in how they react to famous people that they see. If you compare how people dressed in the 1950s at Disneyland with the average guest today, you'd see a huge difference. Going to Disneyland used to be somewhat of a special occasion; guests behaved (for the most part!), dressed up, and treated others with respect. Today, I often shake my head when I see how people "dress" at the park (I must be getting old!) and how they conduct themselves. Sure, the high numbers of people that visit the park daily make the situation worse, but I still state that overall, the majority of guests at Disneyland are not as well dressed or respectful as their 1950’s predecessors.