BACKSTORY: Walt Disney used the Stanford Research Institute to pick the perfect location for his theme park. They found 160 acres in Orange County, California, which were being used as an orange grove. Byselling his vacation home and borrowing against his life insurance policy, Walt was able to purchase the land he needed in Anaheim.

On Saturday morning, September 26, 1953, 2 days before Roy Disney was to travel to New York to ask the bankers for the money necessary for the construction of Disneyland, Walt called artist Herb Ryman for an emergency meeting. Herb gave Walt the choice of "as is" in 15 minutes, or cleaned up in 30. Walt picked the former, and explained to Herb at the Studio about his plans for Disneyland and the drawing that was going to sell the concept to the bankers. Herb said he'd love to see the drawing, and Walt replied, "You're going to do it!" For the rest of the "Lost Weekend" (as it came to be known, after the famous Ray Milland film), Walt stayed with Herb, explaining the concept of the park to Herb while Herb drew it. As everyone knows, the drawing was a success and Roy got the money needed.

These photos show some of the elements that went into building Disneyland, with some rare behind-the-scene glimpses of the unfinished park. At the bottom is a map of Disneyland on opening day. This map and a scale model are currently on display at the Main Street Opera House. If you look in the background of the Carrousel Horse Photos, you can see the cars from the Casey Junior ride, as well as some of the Main Street Vehicles. In addition, you will find other “current” behind-the-scenes photos.



Disneyland Employee Cafeteria Photo, July 1961From the publicity blurb:


This photo was used again later, with this new blurb:

Walt Disney is surrounded by his famed cartoon characters which launched the Disneyland television series. Last year his maximum effort was the Davy Crokcett series; and this season he will explore Revolution War days.


Matte artist Peter Ellenshaw creating  concept art for Disneyland 1954Matte artist Peter Ellenshaw creating  concept art for Disneyland 1954An interesting story about this painting. Of course it's considered a priceless treasure of Disney art and an integral piece of Disneyland history, but it was almost lost forever. Around 1983 or ’84, a couple of art directors I used to work with at Disneyland were setting up some kind of special event at the Disney Studio up in Burbank. While on lunch, they went off to explore the old backlot area which, at the time, still had all the familiar film and television set facades used for many decades. The old adobe-style structures for the “Zorro” TV series were still standing, and the guys went poking around inside one of them.

There, leaning against a wall, on the dirt floor with a packing blanket half draped over it, was the Ellenshaw painting. Presumably because of its large size, it had been tucked back there with other clutter to get it of the way, and had been forgotten about for quite a long time.After telling some folks back at Disneyland about it, it was rescued and brought indoors. There was light water damage to a portion of the painted surface, which was later touched up for public display in the new Disney Gallery in the late 1980s.

Thankfully it survived and today everyone recognizes it as the irreplaceable gem that it is. When I see pictures of the painting, I can't help but think of this story.



Much has been written about the very important phases of designing and construction of Disneyland's many attractions. When t he 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 Diseyland shining as brightly as it did on opening day back in 1955.


Plumbing: A Many-Fauceted Department

At first glance, Disneyland's Plumbing Department might appear to be just a normal plumbing shop, staffed by wrench-carrying workers who unclog blocked sewers and replace washers in leaky spigots. But, upon plunging beneath the surface, one finds a team of experienced craftsmen who must deal with a wide variety of responsibilities.

Since Disneyland is sucn an involved operation, the plumbing demands of the Park area as diverse as those of a small city. Everything from drinking fountains to sewage ejectors is found in the Park. Along with the many miles of water and sewer lines, the long list of Plumbing Department duties includes servicing and maintaining all gas piping and outlets, storm drain routes, water purifying, softening, and heating plants, as well as the emergency sprinkler netoworks. The control devices for these systems require constant observation, and necessary adjustments are made as required.

Our Disneyland Plumbers deal with show details as well as support services, for they must turn on all the waterfalls each day the Park is open. Of course all guest facilities must be in working order, so that no one is ever inconvenienced by an inoperative rest room or drinking fountain.

The crew of 15 that comprises the Plumbing Department has its hands full in completing the normal routine that keeps the Park operating. Homer Taulbee, Superintendent for the Plumbing and Air Conditioning, explains that, "since the Plumbing Department's responisbilities are so wide-ranging, the Plumbers have to work closely with other services, including the Pump Shop, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning."

Unique to the Park is an underground heating and cooling system. In the heating plants, water is first brought up to 350 degress; then it is channeled under 150 lbs. pressure through the intricate subterranean maze of piping to heat exchangers, where it is brought down to a usable temperature. Cold water is circulated in a similar network of piping.

Preventive maintenance methods aid in reducing the occasions in which mechanical failures occur. The Plumbing Department practices these techniques as a part of its year-round rehab schedule. There are over 250 underground water valves that are closed and opened regularly so that the moving parts do not freeze in position. Also, filters and regulators are serviced and replaced before they can cause disorders.

When the usual plumber's activities of drain unplugging and faucet fixing are added to all of these responsibilites, a very bsy daily schedule is described for the Disneyland Plumbing Department. This assortment of duties provides a fitting job for the Park's Plumbers, and they love it. As Working Leader Roy Hickman says, "There's enough variety that it's hard to get bored." And every pipe knows it's better to be threaded than bored.

It Takes People

MARIO DAMORE has clocked in at sunrise for the past 23 years. But these days he can be found sleepign in until 8:30, planning a trip around the country and reminiscing about his years at Disneyland as a Machinist Working Leader.

Born in Medford, Massacusetts, Mario moved West and became an assistant engineer in the construction of Navy-Air Rescue Boats and PT Boats in San Pedro, California. After the war, he spent 14 years in boatyards of San Pedro, building and maintaining the engines of private yachts, fishing boats, tuna clippers and various other ships of the sea. Then one day, he got a call from theu nion about a job in a place called Disneyland. He took the job and started another career…Show Business!

Today, we're deply involved in the Matterhorn. But back then, Mario was involved in the Submarine adventure as a scuba-diving machinist and in doing a great job maintaining the Skyway. From there he moved to Fantasyland and the show business of animation.

Did he see Walt Disney often? "Many times. He'd always stop and ask how things were going. One day I was working on Storybookland Canal Boats and Walt came by. Immediately he noticed that the whale wasn't spouting and he asked us why it was off. I explained that we'd turned it off because the wind was blowing the water all over Casey Junior. His response was, "I spent a lot of money on that spouting whale, and I want it going."

Included in Mario's career was a serious interest in car racing. In fact, he was one of Southern California's most outstanding race drivers…maintaining his own engine, of course!

But for the moment, don't wake him before 8:30…one of the luxuries of life which retirement brings.


Maybe you've noticed her. She definitely has a different appearance than any of her co-workers. She's Kathy Baker, the newest human element addition to the Paint Shop a promising apprentice in the industrial painting trade and the only female member of the crew.

"I knew that being a secretary wasn't for me," Kathy responded in answering why she chose to be a Painter. "I really wanted to learn a trade and Disneyland seemed like the perfect place to do it." Kathy knew the Park well enough to make that choice after almost two years as a Department clerk in such ofices as Main Files, Material Control and Maintenance Services.

What kinds of jobs are usually on Kathy's schedule? "It could be anyting," she says. "I've sprayed the cobwebs in the Haunted Mansion, but my most exciting job so far has been helping to paint the roof of Space Mountain - that was an experience." Kathy emphasizes the support she is receiving from the people with whom she works: "They're all good guys and are very helpful to me."

Besides her valuable on-the-job training, Kathy is enrolled in a construction painting course at Orange Coast College and artistically paints plaster statues in her free time.

1980's (photos courtesy of Bill H.)



Cox Pilot and the Employee Cafeteria

Daveland Cox Pilot Header PhotoDisneyland Employee Cafeteria Photo, July 1961I can’t believe there was really a picture of that little crammed room (part of the back of the Red Wagon Inn). I think that might be Vesey Walker in the back; I remember him and the cigars. Later, they rebuilt the cafateria into a very large, more modern place, when they re-did the RWI into the Plaza Inn. A lot of college studying went on at that corner table.

The date of the photo is July 1961. Space suit has multiple rings around the neck, and the space man is guy I knew. Also, I remember Snow White from that era. Indian is in a photo of yours dated Feb 1960 (but has winter costume). He is also in photo of June 1960 (almost same costume). The “thing” on the back of the wall is the feathers worn on the back of his costume, and would have to be removed to sit. I also remember the lady sitting with the cowboy, and I think she worked at Pendleton in Frontierland. Just outside the cafeteria (door was just under that fan) was a covered patio with red wood benches and an old coke machine. It was the manual kind with small glass bottles (6 oz). It was not used much, so the cokes were frozen, like coke-cicles. Heaven on a hot day, and only a dime. The bottles were replaced back into a metal rack on the side.