Thursday, May 09, 2013

Under Construction

Today's post is an assortment of construction photos accompanying the text of an article from the Disneylander Employee Newsletter, September 1961. First photo here shows the sign for the Storybook attraction in Fantasyland BEFORE it got the Storybook! Following are two shots from the testing phase at Arrow Dynamics in Mountain View, California for Casey Jr. The rest are fairly self-explanatory.


Much has been written about the very important phases of designing and construction of Disneyland's many attractions. When the construction crews have packed up their tools and the adventure is opened for the enjoyment of guests most people consider the project completed. However, the job is just beginning for the maintenance crews in Truman Woodworth's division.

Very few people realize what goes on behind the scenes to keep everyting so colorful and fresh looking. Continuing vigilance by mainteance crews round the clock, every day throughout the year is necessary to retain the Magic Kingdom's ever present "new look."

An article in a recent issue of the Western Paint Review magazine covers the problems of one group of Disneyland maintenance experts as follows:

Disneyland painters, under Larry Smith, realize the problem of maintenance, as they are responsible for maintaining every painted surface that is seen by the Disneyland guest as well as many that are not. These vary from "snowcapped" Matterhorn, to the underwater fish in the Submarine Voyage, to the re-finishing of the high style interiors in the stores along Main Street, U.S.A. and to the production line coating of structural steel recently used in the extended Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System.

Disneyland packs more painting problems into a 160 acre area than probably could be found in any other place in the world. At the peak of the season 30,000 people per day are shuffling over the coated asphalt walks, sitting on painted benches and generally contributing to the wear and tear on all finished surfaces. The effect of water corrosion is another of Larry's headaches. In the Submarine adventure, underwater surfaces must be maintained in good condition for at least a year. This includes the submarines themselves, tank walls, mermaids, fish and fluorescent decorations.

For many applications in Disneyland, standard paint formulations are not suitable and Larry has worked closely with his paint suppliers' chemists in developing and testing materials formulated for his special needs.

Among his notable successes is the development of a new coating for asphalt walks which he anticipates will withstand one year of terrific wear in comparison to the life of the previous coating, which was three months. Some of the coatings in the submarine lagoon are still sound after three years of immersion. Originally, a suitable finish for the lifelike fish could not be found. Larry finally came upwith the answer—a ceramic type of coating which is burned on with a torch.

Color is also something of a problem at Disneyland. Everything in the Park is color styled by the Disney art directors and this runs into 2,500 different colors for the paint department. These colors are all eye toned by color specialists and in addition, for touch-up work, original colors are let down to match the fading colors.

There are also major painting jobs which come up every two or three years, like painting the Matterhorn Mountain. In this case, Larry has a large colored rendition of the mountain provided by artists at the Disney studios. He stands down below and directs his crew with a walkie-talkie and ends up with a remarkable resemblance of the picture. Another major project occurring every two or three years is painting the submarine lagoon, the submarines and all the objects in the tank. This requires a lot of special finishes and artisitc ability. How often do you find a man who is an experienced 'sea serpent' or 'mermaid' painter? A lof of black light finishes were used which are especially effective when viewed through the portholes of the submarines.

There are many routine jobs such as, touching up many miles of hand rails once a month and five hours daily spent touching up the targets in the shooting galleries.

Colored water produced by black light pigments in the Mine Ride is checked daily. A regular touch-up program with a periodic refinishing is carried out on all the various vehicles, carousel horses and boats used to carry guests on Disneyland's forty-five adventures. All the benches, tables, waste cans, popcorn wagons, etc., receive the same treatment.

In short, practically every surface in Disneyland comes in contact with the brush of an expert painter with clock-like regularity. It all helps to keep Disneyland shining as brightly as it did on opening day back in 1955.

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more vintage & current Disneyland construction photos on my Construction/Behind-The-Scenes web page.


K. Martinez said...

Some mornings I open your blog and get blown away. Today is such a day. What an incredible collection of construction photos. The Canal Boat and Casey Jr. photos are great. In addition, I love the text you provided from the Western Paint Review magazine article. Extra nice post today.

I remember "Truman Woodworth General Merchandise" was the name of a shop in the 1970s at Marriott's Great America up here in Santa Clara. Any connection?

Snow White Archive said...

Really like the construction photos. Can't get enough of them.

Janey said...

These are marvelous!


Matt G. said...

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

This is an aspect of Disneyland that has always caught my eye (and ear). As a boy, I listened to my Dad and Granddad talking about the painting maintenance.

I wonder how today's obsession with Volatile Organic Compounds has affected the custom formulations of the Disney coatings. I know there are now a lot of high tech chemistry compounds in more widespread use than when Disneyland opened, I think they led the way in popularizing the "architectural coating" for conventional use.

Dave, a wonderful and insightful post. Thank you.