Saturday, July 18, 2009

D&M Exclusive: Marty Sklar's retirement party at Walt Disney Imagineering - Edited 19/7 with new pictures of the WDI party !

Last thursday, a retirement celebration party happened at Walt Disney Imagineering in honor of legendary WDI Imagineer Marty Sklar.

Marty Sklar was a student at UCLA and editor of its Daily Bruin newspaper in 1955 when he was recruited to create an 1890s-themed newspaper, The Disneyland News, a month before the theme park opened. After graduating, he joined Disneyland full-time in 1956.
In 1961, he moved to WED Enterprises, renamed in 1986 to Walt Disney Imagineering, where he worked on attractions for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Among the attractions he helped to design during this period were The Enchanted Tiki Room and It's a Small World, the latter originally for the World's Fair. For nearly 10 years, he wrote personal materials for Walt Disney for use in publications, television and special films. In 1974 he became vice president of concepts/planning, and guided the creative development of EPCOT Center.

As vice president of creative development, executive vice president and then president of Imagineering for nine years, Sklar supervised the design and construction of Tokyo Disneyland, the Disney-MGM Studios, Disneyland Paris, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's California Adventure, Tokyo DisneySea, the Walt Disney Studios Park and most recently Hong Kong Disneyland. As former Disneyland International chairman Jim Cora later said of him, "He understands the Disney way because he learned it at Walt's knee. He is the keeper of the keys, the conscience, the Jiminy Cricket for the organization".

So, after 54 years at the WDC and 48 at WDI Marty Sklar is leaving Imagineering, and to celebrate the retirement of this legendary imagineer the invitation below was sent last week to WDI imagineers - including former WDI imagineers - to invite them to join the party at WDI Big D Patio.

When they arrived on thursday afternoon, the patio was transformed in "Martyland" as you can see on the pictures below and the one at the top - the man in the vehicle is a Dummy!

...And each of them received this now highly-collectible Martyland button you can see below.

Many talented and wonderful people were there! Among them: Alice Davis, Rolly Crump, Richard Sherman, Mickey Steinberg, Orlando Ferrante and his wife, Walt Peregoy, Julie Svendsen, Tony Baxter, Eric Jacobson, Eddie Sotto, Tom Morris, Bob Weis, Barbara Hastings (Marty's assistant for many years), Dave Smith, Dave Snyder, Nelson Meacham, Frank Armitage and his wife Karen and Nicole Armitage his daughter, Valerie Edwards, Kim Irvine, Craig Russell, Bruce Vaughn, Robert and Lori Coltrin, Stan Dodd, Kathy Mangum, Chris Runco, Greg Wilzbach, Paul Comstock, Dick Cook, Steve Anderson, and many more.

And of course Marty Sklar, on the picture below. The lady on the right of Marty is WDI Imagineer Kim Irvine.

On the next picture, Alice Davis

Here are Imagineers Chris Runco, Bob Gurr and Tony Baxter!

On the next picture, Disney Legend Jack Lindquist

Below, Imagineers Rolly Crump and Chris Crump with Eddie Sotto

On the next picture: Imagineer Tom Morris

Below, Imagineer Eddie Sotto with Legendary animator Walt Peregoy

On the next picture, Richard Sherman, one of the two famous Sherman Brothers. He serenaded Marty Sklar from a piano and played Great big beautiful tomorrow, and other songs "live".

Below, Imagineer Dex Tanksley having a drink with other friends Imagineers in a former Peoplemover vehicle, listening to Richard Sherman playing piano.

As you can see, it seems that everybody had a lot of fun at Marty's party.

Former Imagineer Hani El-Masri now living in Cairo could not attend the party, but Marty Sklar asked Hani to design his "departure card" - as Hani when he was working at WDI was known to design fun cards to celebrate an imagineer retirement from WDI. Hani, that D&M readers knows well thanks to last December articles about his WDI artwork - kindly sent me a picture of the fantastic and very funny card he designed for Marty, and you can see it below.

During the party, a giant print of Hani's artwork was displayed in the patio and all Imagineers could write on the white space all around it kind messages to Marty Sklar.

Marty Sklar, who became a Disney Legend in 2002 at a ceremony inside the Art of Animation building during Paris Walt Disney Studios Grand Opening was also honored this friday, date of Disneyland 54th Anniversary, with his very own window on Main Street at Disneyland, Anaheim.

Here is the video of the Disneyland ceremony for Marty's window.

It's truly a Walt Disney Imagineering legend who retired yesterday and Disney and more wish absolutely all the best to Marty for his new life.

Pictures 2,3,16,17: copyright Disney - WDI

Marty's window at Disneyland Picture: copyright Abominable Snowman from Mice Chat

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this interview on D&M english forum on Mice Chat


Ryan Koch said...

That was an amazing party for an amazing man that has dedicated so much for Disney.

I wish him the best of luck with his life in the future.

Orcatime said...

Hani's card is hysterical. WDI will be very different without him.

Unknown said...

Marty, We met at WDW having dinner at the California Grill. My Family and I wish to thank you for your time and the great stories of Disney history. God Bless and enjoy life as I know you can and will. Roy,Susan, & Scott Duke

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Anonymous said...

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DisWedWay said...

Just came across Marty's Party a little late but wish him well in his new endeavors.