Saturday, August 25, 2018

Amazing 1953 LIFE Magazine Pictures Showing Walt Disney in a Brainstorming Meeting About Disneyland with Disney Legend John Hench

I've found an incredible set of LIFE Magazine pictures shot in 1953 by LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. The caption says "A relaxed Walt Disney with one of his artists in his Burbank office, discussing plans for Disneyland - the map which they are holding is referred to by Walt as the "$5Million dollar layout".

The Disney artist with Walt is Disney Legend John Hench and, yes, there is a huge map on Walt desk but more about it in a minute. What's specially extraordinary in Alfred Eisenstaedt pictures is that they'r almost sequence shots - just like if he had back in 1953 a camera allowing to shoot ten pics per second like we have now.

Above and below, Walt is thinking, obviously concentrated with his foot on the desk.

On the next pictures John Hench is no longer sitting in the sofa as Walt apparently asked him to come closer to have a look at the map...

Always showing the map at John Hench, Walt post an area on the map...

Same scene of Walt and John Hench looking at the map, shot from a different angle by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Now, let's talk about this supposed map - or as LIFE magazine quoting Walt "$5Million dollar layout" - a bit more...

What's interesting for a 1953 scene which shows a conversation about Disneyland - which i remind you was still not built in 1953 - is that the plan he shows to John Hench - if we zoom on it - doesn't look at all like a Disneyland plan, at least all the plans we know or have seen before, including Disneyland first layouts. And it don't look either like the plan of Walt first idea, when he wanted to build a small park near the Disney Studios at Burbank....

So, what the hell is this mysterious "$5Million dollar layout" we've never seen before?!? Some friends Imagineers to whom i asked the question thought that it was may be a plan of someplace Walt may have visited. Someplace like Greenfield Village or Tivoli Gardens that Walt was impressed with. But another friend Imagineer - as well as a kind D&M reader, see his comment below - have found it and the map is the very first layout concept for Disneyland and is reproduced both in the Walt Disney Imagineering" book "A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic real”, page 15 top left and page 61 in "Designing Disney's Parks, The Architecture of Reassurance". The caption for it says:
"After Walt Disney questioned the Imagineers as to what they might do with fifty acres of land for the park, art director Marvin Davis attempted to fit everything they had designed thus far onto this site plan - three times the size of Riverside Drive ( Ndr: Walt's first project ). At the time of this drawing, the actual site for Disneyland had yet to be determined. Each square section of the grid represents one square acre of land"

Marvin Davis is also the one who shortly after created "the first site plan including the now famous "central hub" concept, in which different themed lands surround a center point in the park". You have this other plan below.

So, here it is, this plan is in fact an early plan/layouts for Disneyland and these pictures shows a pretty incredible moment of "brainstorming" for Walt beloved project, with Walt apparently not totally satisfied with Marvin Davis plan and thinking with John Hench about how to improve the layouts for the future Disneyland. It's the kind of moment that we never thought we would be able to see, specially 60 years later!

We're not done yet as there is more never seen pictures of Walt below!

The next pictures shows more amazing pictures of Walt explaining "something" to John Hench with his hands like a director can do when he explains a shot to his cameraman.

Two last pictures for which i'll give a lot of money to learn what exactly Walt was explaining to John Hench at that moment!

Wasn't this amazing?

Pictures: copyright TIME - LIFE, Disney Enterprises

1 comment:

Omnispace said...

Thanks for sharing these excellent candid photos of Walt! I love the way he is so animated when he talks.

I've seen the plan Walt is looking at with John Hench. It is one of Marvin Davis' studies for a fifty-acre park. Ref: page 61, plate 41, Designing Disney's Parks, The Architecture of Reassurance, 1997.