Here is the part two of my tribute to Imagineer Pat Burke who passed away this week, and in this second part Pat talks about all the others parks and rides on which he worked on from Disneyland to Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and much more! Many new pictures and stories were added in this part two, so don't miss it! If you've not read the part one you can read it HERE.
There we go.
A.L: It's less known, but at DLP you also worked on the themed decor of Indiana Jones Temple of Peril...
P.B: That's right. The Temple had very little budget for show, sets, and props with it's tight management as on all phase 2 projects after EDL opened. Tony Baxter and Art Director Chris Teitz, asked me to stay on after opening the new fort expansion at Thunder Mesa, and bring my magic to the Temple. With a lot of my key Irish staff from EDL opening, we were able to go through all the warehouse leftovers and piles of left over materials of wood and mine car track I had stored away for expansion. I cranked out daily sketches to the crew to build from and we put together a themed show. There were also a lot of visual intrusions to hide each day. This was actually a good test for me, as when I would return home I would be creating queue line show from the opening and up to the load unload area for the new Indiana Jones attraction at Disneyland. Having done 3 Jungle Cruises before, it was good to remind people I could do Adventureland as well as Fronteirland. I came up with a lot of the show rigging and themed safety nets found on the Temple attraction as well. I had 4 rope weavers I kept busy weaving by hand all the cargo nets you see. I called them my Spider Men.
ESSO was the Temple sponsor so Tony Baxter asked me to do some research and come up with a way to tie ESSO into the show. With my knowledge of petroleum products I researched ESSO's beginnings around the Temples period. I found products and period graphics which even ESSO did not know about. I developed a whole line of crates, barrels, fuel cans and other products the vehicles in the show might use. They were great but ESSO or Disney decided not to spend the extra money to do the show elements.
A.L: You worked also on the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction at Disneyland. Tell us more about the first concept and Bryan Jowers famous rendering ( above ) where we can see five attractions in the same painting.
P.B: Yes, Bryan Jowers did that rendering with both the mine car coaster and the transport vehicles ride in one attraction. Later, it was decided that DLP would get the mine car coaster ride part of the rendering and DL would get the transport vehicle part of the ride, which was the expensive part. Like separating to joined twins. I did work on both.
As you look at the rendering you can see all the individual elements that got carried out in 5 different attractions. You can see a Jungle Cruise boat and that was a part of the Jungle Cruise DL attraction that was added when we added Indiana Jones to DL in 95. The Jungle Cruise load building was redone . We also had to change the path of the DLJC river as it was affected by the new Temple and surrounding show. We redid the ruins scene in that area as well. I designed the loading dock that could relate to the Jungle boats and Indy. It had a wood steel banded water tank mounted on a bamboo support, reinforced tower. Below that, I had an old rivet boiler with fire box to purify water for the Indy Camp. A hand operated pump was used to pull water from the rivers to the boiler. The boiler would fill the tank above, which then feed to other water storage tanks within the camp. The flag staff and pennant on top were so Indy's plane would not hit it. This was all new show for the Jungle Cruise as well as Indy. The original Indiana Jones vehicle from the famous scene in the 1st movie can be seen from the Jungle boats where we parked it in the camp. There's a whole story on this truck which I got to drive as well as sleep in before and during installation.. The cork screw in the rendering was used in the DLP Temple attraction as you may have experienced. The suspended bridge as in the 2nd Indy movie, was used both at DL and the TDS Indiana Jones attraction. The newer TDS mine car coaster added next to Indy, employs some ideas from DLP and the sketch. I had done design work on all the Idol restoration scaffolding on this one. Now, you are understanding how much this drawing has been employed. I especially enjoyed doing the Indy office at DL, just as I thought Indy would have had it and saw an inspirational glimpse as he left his classroom in the first film, and went into his research office and lab. I also enjoyed coming up with the generator shed that would power all the Temple electrical lighting outside and inside up to the loading area. This shed is a structural open shed on movable skids as Indy slid it into place. Open wire mesh keeps most of the native animals out as well as giant pythons which Indy hates. So on it shelves you can see an assortment of preserved foods and research tools needed in the camp. There is also a real antique giant New House Bear Trap that Indy had Salla order to catch that big snake deep within the digs. Many times guests have tried to obtain that trap or offer to replace that old 1920 generator and hit or miss Fairbanks gas powered engine in the shed.
People love Indy queue line theming, and John Hench proclaimed in his book that DL's Indy queue Line was the best example of a true Disney attraction. For me, it was a new direction in another theme, which led to my work on Lost River Delta, TDS.
In 1994, while we were installing Indy at DL, the Jungle Cruise load building was also updated and got it's second floor which made it resemble, at last, more like the original concept.
After Walt Disney World was opened in 1971, a lot of the attraction designs started coming back to Disneyland. Working with Disney Legend Marc Davis on America Sings and Country Bear, I was also able to work on the Jungle Cruise's new storylines and sets. The 26 foot Python animated snake in a tree was assigned to me. I looked at how the Walt Disney World snake had been painted and thought it could be done better. Having owned snakes as a boy, but never one over 6 feet, this one really interested me. Doing research in the WED Enterprises Library was always a part of the fun. They could borrow from the Walt Disney Studio Library, and sometimes you got a book that Walt had checked out and signed the card or made notes in. I had a book on Irish Family names that he had last checked out.
A.L: Talking about the Jungle Cruise, it seems that one of the first jungle cruise gorillas became Matterhorn’s abominable snowman...
P.B: Yes, the Matterhorn Abominable Snowman served as a Gorilla in his former job in the Jungle Cruise! I believe it was Steve Kirk, Mr TDS, who rethemed the Gorilla for his new job at Matterhorn, and then we added the interior with the new Ice Crystals with Legend and Matterhorn creator, Fred Joerger.
I was working with Mark Davis on upgrading the DL Jungle Cruise after WDW had opened with their improved show. Part of Mark's new show for DL included the Gorilla Camp with the tents, overturned jeep and the family of gorillas unpacking and turning the camp inside out. So, the older previous tenant Gorilla vacated the DLJC. Some time later,the Matterhorn was coming down to be upgraded while we were doing the new Big Thunder in 88/89. Some new reinforcement with steel was being added where the wood substructure was located in places. This wood substructure can be seen in the recent section of the Matterhorn you sent me. The new tandum Bobsleds were being added along with new track, and better brakes for the splash down. I tried to get an old vehicle to watch TV in but was told they had to be destroyed. It was also decided to put some show in the interior mostly for the Skyway buckets that passed through the Matterhorn more slowly. The Bobsleds of course at speed could see the new icy interiors and crystals about as well as the new Abominable snowman/alias Mr Gorilla that came out of retirement and put on a new suit!
I remember seeing a lot of Mark Davis sketches hanging in the halls at WED as you went to the cafeteria or Gold Coast as it was called. Several have lunch and talk with Mark sessions also allowed us to see such work, as he talked about what was and wasn't to be. Some of these characters made it in slightly different situations. For instance, when we did TDL's Pirates of Caribbean, we combined a lot of elements from WDW and DL. That was a big project for me.
Pat also did a model for WDW 1st water park, River Country. Above and below, two never seen pictures of his River Country model with the elevated slides from about 1975 for WDW.
A.L: Back in the 70’s, you also worked on a very secret Disney project, the Lake Independence Ski Resort.
P.B: I remember in 1975, I was working on Disney's top secret Lake Independence Ski Resort. A followup ski resort to Walt's Mineral King which never happened. We were waiting to see if Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter would get elected President in 76. Ford was a skier and Carter not. We needed the presidents support to help us fight the Sierra Club as our Governor Jerry Brown would not.That however changed after an encounter with his Girlfriend Linda Ronstadt. A bunch of us from WED were up a Mammoth Mountain skiing. I was waiting for my boss Malcolm Cobb to come up the chair lift. As he got off with this very petite pretty girl, he skied over to me and began his story about her. On the chair up she noticed his 20 year gold Mickey Mouse ring and asked if he liked Mickey or something? He told her about working for Disney for many years, and it being a service reward, and in fact began to talk about our ski resort project that our dumb Governor would not come out to see. She replied that he was a good friend of hers and she would talk to him about it. Malcolm had no idea who she was and thought she was a little touched to put it politely. We informed him after seeing her and hearing the story, that she was for real Linda Ronstadt.
Above: a WDI rendering for the Lake Independence Ski Resort project in the 70's.
Two weeks later WED got a call from the Governor's office, and Jerry Brown wanted to come and see the Ski Resort project. Working on the model, I was present when he came back to our secret room to look at it. I remembered his secret service agents were much taller than he was. We showed him that all the ski runs were through existing trails we had developed from overhead photos taken by infrared film from one of the Space Capsule flights. ( Astronaut Gorden Cooper came to work for us about this time as a Vice President and spokesman for our new Space Mountain Attractions at Disney world and then Disneyland.) We had actually added new trees, and all the architecture was tucked neatly into the environment with underground parking structures. The Cog Railroad would transport guests up the hill to a proposed revolving restaurant on top of the mountain. Even with all this,the Governor, who unlike his Friend Linda, was not a skier and would still not back our project which would mean fighting the Sierra Club. Of course Carter got nominated, and then Disney President Ron Miller, shelved the project to obscurity. So we know what an election can do or not do for Disney. Years later, i met Jerry Brown in Tokyo - while i was working on Tokyo Disneyland in 1982. he was walking with monks, his head shaved and apparently studying buddhism.
A.L: By the way, You also worked for Gene Warren who did the SFX in the famous 1960’s Time Machine movie.
P.B: Yes, I worked for Gene Warren at night while working for WED during the day in the 70's for a brief time. I had to make up the needed money to get by on from WED to repair my car. Gene got the special effects Academy Award for the "Time Machine" in the 60's. His son Gene Jr. got it for "Terminator" SFX. Small World.... Another reason why I love Jules Verne, although the Time Machine novel was written by Wells. Excelsior was their company name I remember. The pilot for Man From Atlantis was my main job, and I was able to do actual camera work as well as special effects lighting for an underwater landing strip for a submarine. The set was filmed wet for dry. That was actor Patrick Duffy's first job, chosen from a McDonald's commercial, long before he did Dallas as Bobby Ewing. The pilot developed into a TV series, but I had stopped by then. After working at WED all day and then riding my 10 speed Paramount from Burbank to Hollywood and back at 11pm was good exercise. The movie Black Sunday's FX's were also done at that time. We did a Nehi soda pop commercial with child actor Rodney Allan Whippy from Big Mac fame, that required us to pour 50 gallons of Nehi grape soda pop through a set of a little town where Rodney was sitting on a couch saying "I wish I was knee hi in Nehi!" That worked great but the soda pop went under the wall and into a Disco next store called the Bullshot. Never heard so much screaming before, and firetrucks came. Had a lot of purple grape Nehi to drink. Great experience to build on for my work at WED. Of course that was not my first brush with a Sci Fi legend. In college I studied under Irving Block, who created Robbie the Robot, and worked on several famous movies like "Forbidden Planet" which I heard Disney was involved with in the effects. He also among many, worked on the 1949 Alice In Wonderland movie doing special effects. I still have my animation project I did for him on which a film could be developed. Irving always said "You can't draw a figure until you understand what holds it up!" I used that when I worked on laying out the 1 inch model with simulated steel frame that held Big Thunder up for WDW and then the 1/2 inch DL model. The structural steel consultants were not quite sure how to do it from Big Thunder creator Tony Baxter's 1/4 inch model, until Skp Lange and I made a pass at it in a larger scale. They did give us spans and loads to go by. Skp would tell me where he was going to put rockwork and buttes, and I would work out the steel underneath that also had to miss track clearance envelopes within the mountains. Thank you Irving Block.
You may know that Tom Sherman - Mr Nautilus - bought the original Time Machine from the Big MGM auction of about 1971, for about $1500.00. I was there also. It was only missing it's bench which he had replaced and is in it's new owner's home. Tony Baxter has purchased a reproduction full size Time Machine for his home, as well as a working miniature as in the film. I have not seen the large one yet but he told me about it. My cousin worked on the new Time Machine movie, but even as great as that machine was, I still like the original. That is the movie that inspires me.
Talking about Tom Scherman, Tom did an incredible Nemo Film Pilot for a TV series. Tom have a screening at WED and showed a bunch of us Tony Team members, this Nemo Film Pilot several times. I'm thinking Tony was trying to show it to then Disney President Ron Miller, to do as a weekly TV Show. Can't say what happened there. Also, Tom's drawings are definitely pre-TDS and a major influence for that park. Tom told me he used to do napkin sketch in restaurants and trade them for his meals! He mentioned Kantor's Delicatessen in Hollywood, which was a hangout for people in the business. George MacGinnis recently reminded me of a fact or Harper Law, which Tom upheld. The Nautilus Hull was to be constructed from steel removed from sunken ships Nemo had sunk. Therefore the steel plating would be irregular and uneven and not perfect as some non Sherman models have depicted. Tom had explained that to me on his large scale model which I believe Tony still has. After the opening of TDS, I told Tony that he should be proud, as it was really his DL Discovery Bay, expanded. Steve Kirk had worked on this model with Tony, and carried the concept on to TDS as you have shown through Tom's expanded sketch's. Kind of like the Africa Pavilion concepts, which I worked on, which when expanded became the larger Animal Kingdom at WDW's EPCOT. While I was working on EDL expansion, I was able to help Tom out on finding some period metal castings, tools and twisted spoke valve handles, for his Nautilus that is now in DLP. In about 1985, Tom asked me to come to Legend Ward Kimbals house, where he was going to stage his giant Iron Man against Ward's full size live steam Engine. Quite a day. Ward had to get a special permit to start up his engine that day, which had not run in many years. I was made brakeman on top just behind the locomotive. Ward had not trimmed the oranges trees in many years that hung over the track. As we got rolling I got swatted with all these oranges and they bounced down into the locomotives cab where Ward was laughing. I believe Tom used dry ice to simulate his Iron Mans smoke which I believe came out his top hat. I got some great photos of Tom and Ward that day in their element.
With Harper Goff and Tom Sherman we used to go out to lunch at Viva's, when Harper was working with us on Epcot. Harper talked about all things Nemo and Dragnet, his TV show afterwards. Did you know Harper loved unique cars? He had a 57 Fairlane Retractable, front wheel Tornado, and a 69 Mustang Mach 1!
I remember telling Tom Scherman that I saw an Album cover in Japan in 82 that had the core drilling machine on the cover that he had visualized, and was later used at TDS. Tom should get more credit, really, for his contribution to TDS...
Above: a WDI rendering for Tokyo Disney Sea Lost River Delta.
A.L: On which land of Tokyo Disney Sea did you worked on?
P.B: On TDS, I worked on Lost River Delta doing overall architecture, bridges, sheds, docks, themed fencing etc... The team before me, had put together the drawing package on Cad, but the Oriental Land Company didn't approve it at first. Cad can be a little boring, so we hand drew everything again adding those special details and elements not found in Cad drawing. They loved it and approved it for the next phase. I had worked on Indy for Paris and Disneyland and worked on themeing in the exterior digs area. Eventually I would come back and work on the Indy coaster ride which was fun and made it my 4th Indy adventure. The vegetable stand was located on the dock but it's pilings and lower levels went down to the water. That is where I had a lot of fun with joinery from my Fronteirland knowledge. The drawings were literally sent to the field and duplicated, as I had engineered everything as I like to do. The aircraft hanger was to be modeled after the one in the movie "Rocket Man". I previously had flown to Santa Pollo air port while taking flying lessons (My father had a Cessna 140 that I worked the stick in at 6 years). That's where I got to meet Steve McQueen on 2 visits, and see his collection of cars, motorcycles, and toys. I remember seeing the actual hanger used in Rocket Man, and called up the airport to see if it was still there. It was. So I made a little trip there and photographed a lot of its details architecturally. I turned them over to the architect who was working on it for TDS.
As Lost River wound down, I moved over to American Waterfront with some of my team members where I got to detail out the 700 foot 1912, SS Columbia steam ship and all its nautical hardware and it's loading gantry. That was a lot of fun as I found an old steam winch and mechanical gears and designed 3 foot diameter wheels for the Gantry trucks, that were sand cast in Hiroshima. I actually had some wheel drawings for Carrol Shelby's 1965 427 Cobra, that Alex Kerr had made me copies of. He had worked for Shelby and Disney for many years. I wanted to design a correct S spoke wheel for the 1912 period and these Shelby drawings were a great help as will as 100 year old wood patterns I had located. They turned out great on the Gantry. I really wanted to surpass the detail of the Titanic from the movie, and feel we did. My grandfather graduated from Notre Dame in the 20's as a Structural Engineer, and went on to build hundreds of riveted steel bridges for the railroad in Minnesota. On my summers there as a boy, he would take me around and show me his different bridges and point out the details which I must have absorbed. For American Waterfront, I had to develop the Columbia's entire hull riveting details, and had to relearn the different types of rivets and their usage. I believe there were over 2 million rivets in that ship. I had to develop over 24 sheets of decking design, joinery, and layout for the ship in teak that I found in Jakarta. My restored 1890's steam winch that was employed on the fore deck for simulated operation of the mast boom had an interesting experience. The OLC ship builder had to set the rigging for the mast and boom, but no crane could reach there. In a design meeting with them, I suggested using my old steam winch. They kind of laughed as they didn't think the old relic still worked. I showed them how to run it on compressed air and it did the job, brakes and all. They really enjoyed that experience. 12 different handrail types were developed for the ship as would have been correct for 1912 ship construction and deck class. I had over 40 research books on sunken ships of the era. So the Columbia has little bits of Aquitaine, Mauritania, Titanic, and other sleeping beauty's at the seas floor. I also worked on the second Steamer parked nearby to it. It's always a great challenge to work on something new that you have to learn every little detail about, and become an authority about in a short period.
P.B: The picture above is one of my favorite night time shots of the Tokyo Disney Seas 1912 SS Columbia. Over 700 feet long and 2 million rivets in the hull and above. Inspired by the Titanic, Queen Mary, Mauritania, and Aquitania and about 30 books on sunken ships. This shot shows off the downramps and spreader bar with Columbia cast into it. I had to argue that the spreader bar belonged to the Columbia and not the dock so it would have it's name on it. I watched James Cameron's Titanic movie again. When the team was designing the Columbia, we wanted it to be better than the Titanic in his movie. I was watching his Titanic float by and realized the hull was pretty flat. It didn't have all the hull plating joints and rivets that ours had that gave off little shadows and details, that make it look vintage and real. Thank you Disney WED Legend Orlando for being the BEST and helping to make the magic happen many times. I hope sometime that James Cameron can visit our Columbia and let us know what he thinks about it.
P.B: At Tokyo Disney Seas, American Waterfront's 1880 rolling steel dock gantry, makes a great architectural statement at night, between Mr. Hightowers Tower of Terror and the 1912 SS Columbia. It was the ultimate Errector Set for a big kid. Having a grandfather who graduated from Notre dame in 1918 in Industrial Design was a great influence. On trips to Minnesota, he would take me around to a few of his rivited bridges he had built for the railroad, and gave me lessons on riveting. That was a lot to take in at age 8 but it payed off at Disney. Some parts of the gantry were cast from 140 year old wood patterns I had found while searching for 4 Big Thunders. Its huge iron wheels were modeled after 1870 train wheels and 1966 Shelby Cobra427 wheels I had the blue prints to from Alex Kerr. Alex had worked for Shelby and Disney. I also found out at age 8 that Shelbys son had my name, Patrick Burke Shelby. Those wheels were cast at Hiroshima in the old sand casting method.
Not so long ago David Goebel, graphics artist, former Disneyland Paris cast member, and friend of Pat, created this beautiful poster in tribute to Pat's work on TDS American Waterfront "S.S Columbia".
A.L: Before working on Tokyo DisneySea you came in Japan in the early eighties to work on Tokyo Disneyland. It was your first time in Japan...
P.B: Back in 1982 and 83, WED Enterprises was busy building it's first international park called Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, as well as EPCOT in Walt Disney World. The Africa Pavillion was cancelled, so I went to Japan to help with props and sets for about 13 attractions. Based mostly at TOHO Studios, I was called upon one day to visit the Monster Room where all the TOHO Monsters hung around. Godzilla, the most famouse of their family was having a new premier revival at the Ginza. I offered to help out with a teeth cleaning and gave him a ride to make up, as seen in the 2 photos. I heard he made a Big Splash at the opening.
A.L: You worked on the Tokyo Disneyland version of It’s a Small World, and thanks to this you had an incredible meeting with Japanese legendary director Akira Kurosawa...
P.B: Yes that was my 3rd Small World that I worked on. I had to go out in the country from Tokyo where a vendor was working on the Small World Clock Tower numbers and other sections that would later be assembled at the site if I approved them. We were driving out in the country and down an alley when we stopped at the vendors little manufacturing building. A man was sitting across the alley in his garage working on a project. I mentioned an interest in what he was doing and they told me he was a very famous movie director. After we reviewed all the Small World artwork being done in fiberglass and finished in gold glitter, we went across the alley and I was introduced to this older man. That's when I found out he was Akira Kurosawa, and I told him how much I loved his movies and the connection to our famous Western "Magnificent 7". I told him I had met Steve McQueen several times at his airplane hangar in Santa Pollo, and got to see all his toys, cars, bikes, and two Stearman airplanes.
With my interpreter in between we talked about the new TDL that would open in 1983 and that I was working a lot at TOHO Studios on the show sets and props. I told him I also got to wear Richard Chamberlains Shogun outfit for a Halloween party through work. Shogun was made at TOHO. He thought that was very amusing, that I would be interested in that. Having seen the Shogun and Samurai warrior armor at TOHO's museum, we talked about some pieces he had in his garage. He asked about Small World, and I told him it was a "Classic" attraction that Walt had his hand on, and it represented children from all over the world in a united song. He thought it was good that we exchange our heritage as we were doing for the new Tokyo Disneyland in 83. The Japanese were very good at Fiberglass when we built TDL in 1983. Kurosawa was interested in the Small World Pieces as they were layed out on the garage floor. In closing I hoped that he would visit our new park and enjoy a new adventure for him. I wonder if he ever got to see it? I believe he lived until 1998, so he had plenty of time. That was the last time I got to see him.
P.B: On the picture above, Disneyland's King of Finishes Steve Borrowitz and me are standing next 2 of the 7 boats for the Tokyo Disneyland Pirate Ride and Blue Bayou. Left is the house boat and right is the shrimp boat. Between Pirates seven boats and Jungle Cruises three out riggers, we had a good fleet going. We floated them in Tokyo Bay to be able to weight them down correctly for the show. The Pirate ship with flag flying got some audience on Fish Market day. Steve showed the TOHO Artisans how to paint with longer lasting products as well as age per the show needs. He really saved quite a few shows in the Finishes Arena at Tokyo Disneyland.
P.B: While building Tokyo Disneyland back in 1982 and 83, the hour's in the field were long and the weekends short as was usually the case if you loved what you did and wanted it to show. While at TOHO Studios most of the time, I had little time to get a costume for our up and coming famouse Apartments 33 Halloween Party. The Toho Studio head found out about the party and asked me to come in on saturday after work to see him. I finished the day on Pirates of the Carribean, as we were building 7 ships for the attraction along with over 70 treasure chests and all the other props and antiques. I was brought over to his office and then taken to wardrobe. There they had me try on Richard Chamberlain's Shogun costume from the movie. Even the wood platform shoes fit. They would not allow me the sword however. This picture above was taken at the party with a friend from the site dressed as a Pineapple. Three different girls said I had the costume on wrong that night and redressed me on the dance floor. That night I got out of the taxi in Roppongi and walked home getting a muster of comments. The TOHO artisans and management were very amused by my telling of the events.
A.L: Talking about celebrity, Michael Jackson was a big fan of Disneyland Paris, and you met him once...
P.B: I actually met Michael twice at Disney. The first was on TDL Big Thunder. The second time I saw Michael Jackson and his kids, was at 2am on 1994 at DLP as we were working on the Fort expansion and they reopened the park for him that morning after closing. We were trying to hang the antlers over the gate opening, when the hydraulics on the fork lift broke and got red fluid over the new paving!! Operations Dept was going crazy to clean it up and get the fork lift out before opening that morning. The antlers went up and Michael approved!
I remember I got a memo from Marty Sklar asking why they were so many antlers on the new fort roofs. I told him that was a sign of a great hunter, and all was fine. The other time was when I was at Tujunga outside working on all the TDL Big Thunder sets and mining artifacts. Michaels limo drove up as they were filming Captain EO next door. He got out and came over, looking throught the chain link fence. He asked me where all these "Great" things, were going? I told him the 3rd Big Thunder for Tokyo. He said he wished he had some for his property. That was before Never Never Land of course. I told him I would love to see the filming of the dance seen in EO, but found out later, that was the last day and I still had work to get out.
A.L: When Imagineering worked on the America Sings attraction, for the bicentennial celebrations, another unexpected celebrity came at WED...
P.B: Yes, Jackie Kennedy came through WED in the 70's while we were doing "America Sings"! Shirley Temple also came by as did many singing artists who would sing the songs of the show.
I don't know any particular reason for Jackie’s visit. We seemed to be having a lot of notable people coming through at that "America Sings" time. She was unaccompanied as was usual in her walk through. I think WED had such a mystique in the creative world in which she was interested, that perhaps she wanted to have a look on her own. I believe weeks later Caroline and John Jr came through, probably after her mothers download on what a Great place WED was. When John died, I suggested they dig out photos of his day at WED, but all who would have been involved were long layed off, and nothing happened. Michael Jackson was a frequent visitor but he was not as accessible. Marilyn McCoo of the 5Th Dimension, was looking over my shoulder one day while Burl Ives was loudly taking a tour. He is the voice of the eagle in America Sings. Marilyn was trying out for one of the shows songs I remember, as she asked me about a model I was working on. Beautiful woman! Shirley Temple was on the Disney board at the time she came through, and you know her connection to Walt and the Academy Award for Snow White she gave to him back in her child star days. Roots author Alex Hailey was the spokesman for our Africa Pavilion that I was working on with Ken Anderson..........it goes on.
A.L: Tell me a bit more about this Epcot’s Africa pavilion that never was.
P.B: Well, this Africa Pavilion was designed by Disney Legend Ken Anderson. there was a tree house, and when you went up in that tree house, it opened to a panoramic enclosed theater with an interior of a Jungle scene, with a huge rear projected screen of animals coming towards you. They developed over 100 animal scents that would be blown at you from these jungles inhabitants. Like Tigers in heat etc.. They went to Africa to film the footage, which I don't know what happened to that. Ken also did many sketches on his trips that he showed us for reference in designing the pavilion. Maybe Ken Anderson talked about this in his last book? They had purchased a lot of great African artifacts, that ended up at the WDW Adventurers Club. We had designed an African village with the grass huts which inspired the Animal Kingdom Architecture, as Disney Architect Ahmad Jafari worked on both. They also reappeared at HKDL in Adventureland. I remember when I put my model of the tree house on the Epcot model, and John Hench came out to look at it. He commented that it was just too big in scale with the other pavillions and everything else, and maybe needed its own park. I made several sizes of the tree, but in the end years later, it did get it's own park as the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom.
A.L: At Epcot, you worked on the art-deco scene in the beloved Horizons attraction...
P.B: Yes, I worked with Disney Legend John Hench on the Art Deco scene. The man in that scene looks like a young John Hench, roommate of Salvador Dali in the 40's and brought him to work on Fantasia. That's what I was told and if you look well, you can't miss John’s scarf and mustache. He watched over this scene. We even had a model of the 1829 Paris Place de la Concorde Obelisque in the scene. I think it was placed on the Deco open wall shelf. I worked on the Suntanning machine in particular. Horizons was Great Show!
A.L: Another famous extinct attraction was Disneyland's Flying saucers.
P.B: I remember the Flying Saucers first appeared on the 1961 guide book, but cant say they were on books after that. I did not realize the saucers lasted until 66, when John Hench updated Tomorrowland to the New Tomorrowland in 67. Sharon Disney once told me Walt disliked the saucers because he dropped his favorite pair of sunglasses through the deck openings that lifted the saucers. I'm sure he had people going below to find them. Always a "WED Rumor" that they were locked away in a warehouse somewhere. But as with the original Bobsleds and Natures Wonderland Trains, they were ordered destroyed, while I did try to save some. One train and cars is still seen at Disneyland's Rivers of America. A second was reused at TDL's Big Thunder in 1987 by the load building. I tried to save a box car chassis to build a sleeping bed frame on that would sit on tracks at home. They had to be crushed however I was told. That would have been a great bed in California earthquakes, rocking back and forth on tracks.
I still have a picture of me and my girlfriend standing in front of the New Tomorrowland opening facade in 1967. I worked on the New Tomorrowland for 1977, when we opened the 2ND Space Mountain and then again on Tony Baxter’s Tomorrowland with the Orbitron which I made the model of in hardwood, based on the one you have at Disneyland Paris.
Above: Disney Legends Bob Gurr - inside the Lincoln - and John Hench walking along side of the car on track.
A.L: When one talks about Test Track, everybody think instantly to the Epcot attraction, but a long time ago the “Test Track” words had a different meaning at WDI...
P.B: Yes, The original Disney "Test Track" as it was called at WED, was used to test all the Ford Motor Vehicles that went around through the 1964/5 Disney World Fair exhibit. It was only 500 feet long but with a 10% slope duplicated all the curves of the Ford World’s Fair exhibit designed by WED!
Talking about the World’s Fair and the Ford attraction, the Ford Mustang debuted at the fair as a 64 1/2 intro. All the attraction cars had their drivetrains removed for the show, but guests could purchase the cars after the show closed and the drivetrains were put back in and made running again! The World's Fair Mustangs are highly sought after by collectors.
I got to be involved in the upgrading of It’s a Small World at DL and the Carousel of Progress in 1975/76 when we sent it on to Florida. I was sorry to see it leave Anaheim.
Above: Disney Legend and WDI Ambassador Marty Sklar
A.L: WDI - formerly WED Enterprises - now exist since more than 50 years, which means that Imagineerng had multiple generations of imagineers, the older being known as “Living Treasures” thanks to their inestimable experience...
P.B: That’s right. For instance, we can add Claude Coates name to the "First String Living Treasures" list we worked with, while in the "Second String WED Treasures". Tony Baxter always referred to them as the 1st and 2nd generation of WED artisans. In relation to God and Walt Disney, I always said the two generations can be divided by the terms BD and AD, or before Disney's death or after Disney's death. Claude Coats would be BD, and Tony and I would be AD, as we were hired after Walt's death, not that we didn't meet Walt before being hired. There are very few 2nd generation Treasures still working at WDI with the recent head hunting eliminations, which is a shame, as they worked with Walt's chosen people. The third and fourth generation will be missing them a lot. I remember when I started at WED how many senoir over 60 Treasures and Legends were working and contributing, and mentoring us. John Hench, Marty Sklar, and Orlando Ferrante were great mentors, and Marty was always there to give you support when you needed it.
Above: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac in 1976.
A.L: We’ve talked about Shirley Temple who was in the 70’s on the Disney board, but now it’s Steve Jobs, Apple C.E.O who is on the Disney board of directors, and i think you have an incredible story about him...
P.B: Yes. About 1975, at WED, I was building some props for the first Space Mountain for Florida. Some TV monitor type pods were part of my work done in plastics which I had studied in college. A friend who was an Industrial Designer, called me and asked if I could help him out on a project, and I said OK. I went to his house that night and he was asked to build the prototype industrial housing for this new computer and keyboard. I dont think any existed yet. The creator of the computer lived not to far away and was working out of his garage. My friend decided I knew what I was doing and left it with me while he went on vacation for a month. I spoke with the inventor over the phone while I was mocking up the housing on my free nights from WED. When completed everyone was happy with my work. I later found out it was to be called the Apple 2 and Steve Jobs was my man on the phone! Hope one day I can meet him and talk about it!
A.L: After all these years working at WDI, what are your best memories ?
P.B: Well Alain, you have heard but a few of them, with lots more in storage for the moment. It is always a great pleasure to work with the creative teams, vendors and international craftsman that we find in creating a park from start to finish. I love doing the research and developement of a themed period project, and getting to draw on the board in ink, as I learned from EDL from the French Architects. That gives me time to work out the elements in detail and put all the pieces together. On TDS I found I could draw in an etching style 3 times finer than a computer could scan. Disney Architect David Ott who worked on most of the park castles including PDL's, used to watch over my shoulder, and told me I was the only one that had his patience and he would pass his job on to me when he retired. That was a great complement that has always inspired me. Actor George Peppard in the TV series the "A Team" said it best on the end of each show, "I love it when a plan comes together!" That's how a new attraction or park opening feels.
A.L: Pat, thank you so much for all these wonderful memories!
I will post very soon the part three of my tribute to Pat Burke, an article that i promised to him since a long time and Pat was waiting for its post which unfortunately i had to delay for different reasons. Don't miss it!
Pictures: copyright Disney, Pat Burke collection, Alain Littaye, Ravenswood Manor, LIFE Magazine, David Goebel
Artwork: copyright Disney, Tom Scherman
Many thanks again to the Ravenswood Manor web site for some of the pictures posted in this article.
More infos on the Lake Independence Ski Resort project are available in JIm Hill's 2005 excellent article HERE.