Friday, April 20, 2012
Fun Fact Friday: The Partners Statue
Right in the middle of Disneyland Park, in what is called the Central Plaza, or “Hub,” stands the Partners Statue. Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse together. But guests who have been going to Disneyland for only the last 20 years or so may not realize that this statue wasn’t always there.
The Partners Statue only became part of Disneyland in 1993. At first, there were just planters in that spot. In the mid-1980’s, various promotions made use of that space in a bid to increase attendance. Among them were a gigantic jukebox (with a DJ at the bottom) for “Blast to the Past” and a “Cage of Death” (a huge metal globe with a motorcycle rider inside performing various stunts) during “Circus Fantasy”.
The disruption to the carefully laid out theme and storytelling, to say nothing of almost totally obscuring the view of Sleeping Beauty Castle, greatly upset the Imagineers, especially Marty Sklar and John Hench (a fact that Marty Sklar himself shared at a recent D23 event). To help keep this from happening again, and to honor Walt Disney, who had passed away more than two decades earlier, the idea for the Partners Statue was born.
Imagineer and sculptor Blaine Gibson was asked to create the figures. In 1962 he had already sculpted a bust of Walt, which he was able to use as a reference for this piece. It took more than a bust though. Gibson had to answer questions like, “How tall is Mickey in relation to Walt?” and “How do an animated mouse with four fingers and a human being with five fingers hold hands?”
He answered the first using an instance of Walt recording Mickey’s voice for the 1939 short The Pointer. As Walt did the voice and basically acted out the character, at one point he put his hand out in a gesture indicating that Mickey was about 3 feet tall. The latter was answered with a scene from Fantasia, where Mickey shakes the hand of the conductor, Leopold Stokowski.
Probably the most important question to be answered, though, was what pose to use. Many were suggested, but the chosen one has Mickey and Walt holding hands, with Walt pointing…to what? There have been several theories, anything from, “He is pointing to the future,” to “He is pointing to the train station because of his love of trains.” We don’t have to speculate, though, because Blaine Gibson answered the question himself. Walt is pointing down Main Street and saying to Mickey, “Look at all the happy people who have come to visit us today!”
As you walk down Main Street, Walt is pointing at you, and he and Mickey are glad you have come. What a fitting tribute, and a great reminder that Disneyland was built for us, the guests, to be “a place where parents and children can have fun, together.”
For you to discover: On Walt’s tie, there is a tie tack with a logo that reads “STR”. Do you know what that tie tack represents?
Read more from Randy on his blog, Faith and the Magic Kingdom. You can also find him on Twitter (@Belgarion42) and on Facebook.