- The Disney Gallery
The Disney Gallery Disneyland Land Main Street, U.S.A. Opening date October 2, 2009 The Disney Gallery Tokyo Disneyland Land World Bazaar Opening date 1994
The Disney Gallery is an attraction and merchandise location at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It opened at its current location on Main Street U.S.A. on October 2, 2009. From 1987-2007 it was located in New Orleans Square above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The Gallery is a changing exhibition area focused primarily on artwork from Walt Disney Imagineering created in the designing of the Disneyland theme park. Merchandise relating to the current exhibition is usually available for purchase as well.
The Royal Suite
In the early 1960s, as construction of New Orleans Square was proceeding, Walt Disney decided he needed a bigger entertaining facility for various VIPs that came to the Park. He already had an apartment above the Fire Station on Main Street, U.S.A., but it was too small to host extensive events. Walt decided to place the suite in New Orleans Square, away from the hustle and bustle of the park.
Walt brought in set designer Dorothea Redmond, famous for the sets in Gone with the Wind, to help him with the apartment layout. To furnish and decorate the area, Walt left his wife Lilly and Walt Disney Studio set decorator Emile Kuri to collaborate, as they had on other projects (Club 33, the Firehouse Apartment, etc.). The project was christened The Royal Suite, after the street in New Orleans Square (Royal Street) the apartment's entrance is on.
Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966. As a consequence, many projects at Walt Disney Productions were either put on hold or abandoned. The Royal Suite was abandoned at the request of the surviving brother, Roy. He felt that the family could not really enjoy The Royal Suite with Walt gone. The Suite was fairly close to completion at the time of Walt's death, including infrastructure and plumbing.
The Insurance Company of North America (INA) took over the location after the Disney apartment was abandoned. They retained Emile Kuri to decorate the space to approximate the look of the Disney apartment. INA renamed the apartment 21 Royal Street, after the apartment's numerical address. It served as a hospitality suite for INA employees and clients during their day at the park.
INA moved out of the suite in 1974 and Disneyland International moved in, using the space as executive offices. DLI helped plan Tokyo Disneyland with the Oriental Land Company. There was even a large scale model of the park placed in one of the rooms so the Japanese executives could physically see the layout of their new park.
There has also been much speculation about Walt Disney's ghost haunting the Disney Gallery. There is currently no actual evidence of this. The ghost has been reported by many visitors since it opened.
DLI moved out in the mid-1980s when they outgrew their headquarters. The space was left with an uncertain future. At the same time, Imagineer Tony Baxter was put on a project to improve guest traffic around the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The queue for Pirates would get so long at times that it would block the walkway into New Orleans Square and Bear Country.
Baxter finally decided on the current configuration, with the queue going underneath a themed footbridge, thereby freeing the walkway. He then set his sights on Walt's old Royal Suite, just above the queue. Baxter designed a pair of ornamental staircases that would hug the footbridge and create a unique frame for the building exterior. Baxter had thought that a beautiful place like Walt's suite was going to waste not being seen by park guests.
Baxter asked recently elected Walt Disney Company President and COO Frank Wells what the plans were for the upstairs area. Wells said that Club 33 was vying for the space in order to add more membership slots. Baxter came to Wells with an idea for an art gallery open to park guests. The Imagineers had always wanted a place to display their artwork for the theme parks, which went largely unseen by the public. The Disney Gallery was born.
The gallery is unique in all of Disneyland because it is the only location in the entire park that is listed as both an attraction and a merchandise location on the park's map. The cast members who work the location are from the Disneyland Merchandise division, but are specially trained to run the gallery as a museum. Cast Members are encouraged to give guests free tours of the gallery, informing visitors of the facility's rich history and the current exhibition.
End of an era
The Gallery's New Orleans Square location closed its doors for good August 7, 2007. The space has been turned into the new Disneyland Dream Suite. Imagineers converted the space into a two-bedroom, two-bath guest suite, using the original 1960s designs created by designer Dorothea Redmond and set decorator Emile Kuri in consultation with Walt Disney. Perhaps to address the concerns of those upset by the Disney Gallery closure, Disney is quick to point out that the Dream Suite will now be used for overnight guests, just as Walt Disney intended. Walt Disney Imagineering Art Director Kim Irvine says that the suite will "be filled with things that might have inspired Walt as he dreamed of Disneyland." Each of the bedrooms will feature a special nighttime lighting effect, activated at the push of a button.
The Gallery opened at its current location on Main Street U.S.A. on October 2, 2009 in the space previously occupied by the Annual Passport Center/Bank of Main Street U.S.A..
New Orleans Square Gallery layout
The Disney Gallery comprised several rooms and antechambers, as it was designed to be living quarters for the Disney family. Each room contained its own set of artwork and usually revolved around a certain theme that pertained to the overall exhibit.
Front Room/Formal Sitting Room
The first room guests walked into was known as the Front Room. This is the introductory room to the exhibit and sets the stage for what lies ahead. Artwork in this room is usually more broad and gets more specific as the guests progress through the room.
As the Royal Suite, this room was known as the Formal Sitting Room. This is where Walt's guests would have spent most of their time, both before and after a meal. The guest entrance from the staircase was originally just another window when the building was first constructed. The balcony with the Pirates of the Caribbean marquee on the front was originally a false balcony and had to be reinforced to accommodate people.
To the left of the front room is the vestibule. This miniature hallway contains two very distinct rooms that are off-limits to guests. Upon entering the vestibule, the door on the right leads to the print room, which is the nerve center for the gallery's Art-on-Demand system. When the gallery opened this room was an administrative office, used for training and other purposes. The room on the left leads to a small office that is used by the current management of the gallery.
The two rooms were originally designed for two very distinct purposes. The manager office was intended to be a men's smoking lounge. Walt Disney was a smoker for most of his life (and actually died from causes related to lung cancer) and planned on having a separate, ventilated room where he and his friends could light up without making anyone else uncomfortable. The print room's intended use is not clearly known, though it is presumed the room was going to be used as a guest room or a room for Walt's grandchildren to play in.
Collector's Room/Informal Sitting Room
The room to the right of the Front Room is known as the Collector's Room. The retail operation of the Gallery is located here. The merchandise changes with the exhibition, but some mainstays of the Gallery have been miniature, matted, vintage attraction posters and books about Disney art and Disney history.
The Art-on-Demand kiosks are also located here, allowing guests to choose a specific picture and have that picture custom printed for them. The system has been popular with longtime guests and offers a less-expensive alternative to lithographs, giclees, and other expensive pieces. The prints come in different sizes, with prices ranging from $15 – $50. Framing for these and other pieces is also available.
This room was originally known as the Informal Sitting Room. Often compared to a modern-day den, the Informal Sitting Room was a place for Walt and his guests to sit and relax before and after dinner. It is likely that the television would have gone in this room. There was also going to be a wet bar (now used as a cash register area), where Walt could have mixed fancy drinks and served appetizers for his guests. Cast Members like to point out the Sub-Zero miniature refrigerator, as it is the same one installed in 1966, and it still works.
The Collector's Room is the only way to access the Gallery's expansive balcony. Guests can sit up in the Balcony and people watch as long as they want. In the evening, the Gallery Balcony is used as a hard-ticket seating area for the Fantasmic! river show. The seat includes an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet with unlimited soft drinks and coffee. The price is very steep and usually coincides with the price of Park admission.
The Balcony holds very distinctive evidence that the Disney brothers were going to share The Royal Suite. Within the wrought iron of the Balcony's barrier are the initials "WD" and "RD", for "Walt Disney" and "Roy Disney". The initials are so expertly crafted that they do not stand out from the rest of the ironwork.
The balcony is the only area in the entire gallery where Walt Disney actually stood.
Back Hallway/Grand Entrance
Traveling through the Collector's Room, guests will find the Back Hallway. This area was originally used to display collector's lithographs and other framed artwork. Sample Art-on-Demand pieces also hung in this area. Recently, this area has been used as another exhibit room displaying artwork for view.
The Back Hallway was originally the Grand Entrance to the Disney apartment. The door at the rear is connected to the ground floor by a nondescript flight of stairs located in a small courtyard (the Royal Courtyard is currently occupied by an extension of the Pieces of Eight shop). The marker that denotes the address of the apartment still stands. The staircase and back door is considered off-limits to guests.
Blue Room/Formal Dining Room
The room to the right of the Back Hallway is known as the Blue Room. The name came from the color of the wall when the Gallery first opened. This was the largest exhibit area until early 2007, when the room was divided in half. One half was given to Club 33 as storage space which was then turned into Club 33's kitchen. The half that remains as the Gallery is a more intimate space. When the Blue Room was whole, a side balcony on the far side of the room was used as a VIP seating area for Fantasmic! This balcony was off-limits to guests at all times, and was only reserved for special guests of The Walt Disney Company.
This room would have been The Royal Suite's Formal Dining Room. Originally rectangular in shape, it would have accommodated a large dining room table that could have probably seated 15 - 20 guests. On the far side of the room was an outline for a doorway that would have led to the Club 33 kitchen. The Royal Suite had no real kitchen, so it was necessary for the Club's chefs to provide all the meals.
The Patio is the "hub" of the Gallery, with almost every room attached to it. The Patio contains tables and chairs, where guests can bring up food and have a meal away from the bustling crowds of the rest of the Park. A beautiful fountain in the center of the Patio is one of the most-photographed places in Disneyland.
Originally conceived by Lillian Disney, the Patio was a place where Lilly could be outdoors, but away from the Park guests. Lilly also purchased the bronze fountain head sculpture, as well as other antiques located throughout the Gallery. Since she was a lover of plants, Lilly had planters installed wherever possible.
Walt also had a hand in the design of the Patio. There are air conditioning ducts located on the eaves of the roof, surrounding the patio. This was a system that Walt was experimenting with to provide air conditioning outdoors. The ducts in the eaves would provide an invisible barrier, while the ducts located underneath the eaves would actually regulate the temperature. It was never hooked up and never used.
Green Room/Master Bedroom
To left of the patio, cut off from the rest of the Gallery is the Green Room, named for the same reason as the Blue Room. This is the room that has changed little since the Gallery opened and is now the largest display area.
The room is tucked away from the rest of the Gallery because it was going to be used as the Master Bedroom. Lilly enjoyed her privacy and wanted the bedroom to be essentially off-limits to their guests. A large bay window is located next to the bedroom door (now covered by another display wall) so that Lilly could look out onto her garden patio, even when inside the room. The Master Bedroom also had a bathroom with a marble sink top, a shower alcove, and a toilet; there was no tub. The bathroom space is now used as a merchandise stockroom and is locked at all times.
Since its opening on July 11, 1987, The Disney Gallery has had changing exhibits to keep things fresh and current. The length of the exhibits ranged from ten years to three months.
The Art of Disneyland (1987 - 1997)
This exhibit opened with the Gallery in 1987. It featured art and scale models of various attractions from the history of Disneyland. Its most famous piece was the original scale model of Sleeping Beauty Castle in the entrance room. Over the years, art came and went to freshen things up and showcase the newest Disneyland attractions. The last "new" attraction to display concept art was the Indiana Jones Adventure.
During the exhibition, one room was changed to a sub-exhibit called "The Disneyland That Never Was". This area displayed concepts for attractions and shows that never got off the drawing board, such as Dumbo's Circus and Discovery Bay.
Tomorrowland: Imagining the Future 1955 - 1998 (1997 - 2000)
For the Gallery's 10th anniversary, a new exhibit displayed concepts for Disneyland's different interpretations of the future. This exhibit also tied into the 1998 redo of the Tomorrowland area. The exhibit was separated into three distinct areas. The first room was a look into the "Atomic Age" Tomorrowland (1955-1966).
Another room displayed the "World on the Move" Tomorrowland (1967-1997). The most famous piece from this room was an accurate scale model of the track for Space Mountain.
The last room displayed art for the then-upcoming "Imagination and Beyond" Tomorrowland (1998-Present). It also displayed art from abandoned concepts for other New Tomorrowland themes like "Tomorrowland 2055" and "Montana Future". In later years, after the New Tomorrowland opened, art was displayed for the redo of the Autopia in 2000.
A Brush with Disney: The Art of Herbert Ryman (2000 - 2002)
For the very first time, the Gallery's exhibit focused on one particular Imagineering artist: Herbert Dickens Ryman. Ryman was responsible for the first detailed overall drawing of Disneyland Park - the drawing Roy O. Disney used to get monetary backing for the project. Ryman also worked at the animation department, and on Walt's Florida Project. This exhibit reflected his life as an artist, both inside and outside of Disney.
One of the exhibit rooms was devoted to the Ryman-Carroll Foundation for Young Artists. This foundation, started by Ryman's sister, Lucille Carroll, funds the dreams of young, talented artists. Most of the paintings that were displayed in the room were done by young Ryman-Carroll artists.
100 Mickeys (2002)
To celebrate Walt Disney's 100th birthday, Eric Robison was commissioned by Disneyland to create 100 unique portraits of Mickey Mouse, Walt's most famous creation. Robison was a former Imagineer and a merchandising favorite at Disneyland. All the paintings were done on different media: canvas, cardboard boxes, napkins, and other materials.
This exhibit also marked the debut of the Gallery's art on demand system. Guests could pick a specific painting and have it reprinted on paper or canvas. The system was, and still is, extremely popular, and cost-effective. Disneyland management could even change the pictures being offered to coincide with the next exhibit.
Haunted Mansion Holiday (2002 - 2003)
For the winter season of 2002, the Disney Gallery displayed art from the Park's very popular holiday overlay of the Haunted Mansion, Haunted Mansion Holiday. The exhibit also featured concept art for the original Haunted Mansion, as well as concept art from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, the film which the holiday overlay was based.
A Pirate's Life for Me (2003)
This exhibit showcased concept artwork from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and its many details and stories. Marc Davis' concept art was all over the Gallery, as were maquettes created by Imagineering master sculptor Blaine Gibson. In fact, several busts of the pirates Gibson created were on display.
In addition to the attraction artwork, one of the rooms showcased exclusive artwork and props from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the 2003 film that was based on the attraction. Some notable items included both Elizabeth Swann and Captain Jack Sparrow's costumes, one of the cursed Aztec gold pieces, and Sparrow's compass.
Frights, Camera, Action! The Haunted Mansion Goes Hollywood (2003 - 2005)
Based on the success of the Pirates exhibit and film, Disney stretched the synergy machine again for the next exhibition. This display again featured concepts from the Disneyland Haunted Mansion, but it also displayed concepts, props, and costume pieces from the 2003 film The Haunted Mansion, which was based on the attraction.
Although the film did not fare as well as Pirates, the art was a huge draw for guests. An added bonus was artwork from the Haunted Mansion attractions in the other Disney theme parks. It was intended to show how all the mansions influenced the one in the film.
Disneyland, A Magical Canvas: 50 Artists Celebrate 50 Years (2005 - 2007)
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, the Gallery showcased artwork from Disneyland exclusively. This exhibit was similar to the first, Art of Disneyland. Each region of the park was represented. What is different, however, is that the art displayed was from only 50 Imagineering artists; artists have multiple pieces throughout. The artists were selected by Walt Disney Imagineering because of their creative impact on the Park.
In July 2006, Setting Sail For New Adventures was added to the front room of the exhibit to display artwork from Pirates of the Caribbean, both the attraction and the films. It was done to capitalize on the certain success of the second Pirates film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest; the display included props and costumes from the film. Numerous pieces also reflected the revamped scenes from the Pirates attraction, which included Captain Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones, and Barbossa.
Inspired by Disneyland (2007)
In celebration for the Gallery's 20th Anniversary, the Gallery unveiled a new exhibit featuring, for the first time, the work of artists who were not necessarily Imagineers. Contemporary artists including Shag, Jody Daily, Tom Wilson, Amanda Visell, Kevin Kidney, and Maggie Parr created original works that were based on their views and memories of walt disney world.
Enchanting the Classics (2009-2010)
The first show in its new venue on Main Street U.S.A. was an exhibit of original art related to classic Disney movies and attractions plus a room filled with prints of vintage storybook illustrations used in the Disney Little Golden Books series for children. The books were all based on classic Disney films like Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and Mary Poppins.
Day One Disneyland (2010-)
Studies and plans generated in the design of the park, marking its 55th anniversary.
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