Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Little Follow Up

The first thing I want to post about today is to tell you all about a new DVD that has been released. The DVD is The Secret Tour of Disneyland featuring Lauren who takes you to many places in Disneyland and shows many of the secrets. Within the DVD are many of the images you have seen here, Daveland's, and Major Pepperidge's blog. My wife watched the DVD and enjoyed it immensely and I did learn one new secret hidden mickey. Click on the link above for purchasing information.

The next item is a follow up on the Dwarf's Mine Ride drawing I posted about a month ago.

I received an e-mail from Kevin Kidney with the following tale:

When I saw it this evening, my jaw hit the floor. You'll find this hard to believe - and maybe you'll even be slightly disappointed by the news - but the artist who drew that picture is ME! It's not from the 70s but specifically from December of 1989.
It's a long story, but the illustration was done for an article on "Early Disneyland" by Bob Jones. Bob was the model builder whiz-kid who is most remembered for his maquettes, clocks and puppet models used in making Pinocchio and Fantasia. In 1939/40 with Snow White, and soon Pinocchio, already in the Disney repertoire, Walt asked Bob and his brother Bill to help design an early type of "Disneyland" park to be built on a small piece of land adjacent to the new Burbank studio.
Bob suggested an idea to Walt that the park might include a little train ride which would pass through the Dwarfs' Mine from Snow White. During the six weeks that Bob and Bill were brainstorming ideas for the park, Bob had worked up a plan to make life-sized figures of the seven dwarfs which would perform simple movements operated by cams, and triggered to life by the approaching train. Apparently Walt liked the idea, and it planted the seed for the Disneyland dark rides to come. Of course, the little Burbank park never materialized, and sometime later Bob left the studio for a position at Lockheed engineering aircraft for the war effort. When Disneyland was being built in 1954, Walt contracted Bob to build the flying galleons for Peter Pan's Flight.
When I first moved out to California and started working as a designer at Disneyland in the mid-80s, I met and became close friends with Bob and his wife Margie who were living in Fullerton at the time. Because I was also a model builder and puppeteer, Bob and I really connected and we worked on several projects together, just for fun. He had a secret room in his den, literally behind a revolving bookcase, that he kept models and mementos of his work at Disney. He was an inspiring friend and so supportive of all the things I was doing back then.
One evening Margie was cooking dinner for us, and Bob relayed the story of designing the proto-Disneyland for Walt, and showed me a 20-page "article" he had been putting together. He had typed it all out by hand and had Scotch-taped some photographs to it as illustrations. He hadn't kept any of the drawings that he had done for the park, and so he asked me if I could sketch something to show his vision for the mine train tunnel. Back then I always had PrismaColor pencils with me and drew the picture from his description while we sat in his living room after dinner. I had no character reference with me and drew the whole scene from memory, which impressed Bob to no end. I recall he wanted me to put my signature on it, but I wasn't confident that the characters looked right and so I didn't.
Bob sent the article to Dave Smith at the studio archives in 1990, literally months before Bob passed away. I was devastated, but remained very close with Margie for several years until she also passed away. She was one of the dearest women I've ever known. Not long after Margie's passing, one of their sons submitted much of the art and models that Bob had saved to Howard Lowery Auctions, and I was really sad to see so many of Bob's things scattered out into the unknown. I'd completely forgotten about the dwarf illustration until you posted it!
Thanks Kevin for the drawing, the memory and the story and I am not disappointed at all. I now know I own an early Kevin Kidney drawing.

6 comments:

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Awesome story! In a way, its better with the story attached! Thanks for the info on the Secret Tour DVD, it looks fun!

Major Pepperidge said...

What a great story... I remember the Howard Lowery auction that Kevin mentioned, and in fact I'm pretty sure I still have that auction catalog somewhere. Do you think that your piece would be in that catalog? I'd have to dig it out from a box somewhere to check.

Katella Gate said...

A revolving book case? That's almost as incredible as the fact the dwarf mine art was done without references. It all looks spot-on.

Chris Merritt said...

Wow - quite a story!

George Taylor said...

Fantastic tale!

Thank Kevin for sharing it.

Kevin Kidney said...

Oh hey! I'm finally seeing this! Thanks for posting it, Patrick. As a result of this, I've been thinking a lot about Bob lately, and I started to put together a future blog post about him. I miss him a lot, and it feels like he's been gone for so long already.

I was excited a few weeks ago to see Bob in the "Making Of" bonus feature on the new Pinocchio DVD. Just a very brief few moments, but I'm glad he's finally getting some recognition!