Disneyland Fantasmic River Show Models 1991
And now for a trip into my past... Long, long ago I was one of the original designers of the “Fantasmic” river show at Disneyland (that’s me with the white ruler and Disneyland Art Director Tom Butsch – who I hope, if he encounters this photo, will forgive me for posting it! Hi Tom!)
Anyway, this is the best image I have of the character models I sculpted for use in creating the show’s giant inflatable puppets. Ursula the Sea Witch and the crocodile (from Peter Pan) were mine, and the dragon (Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty) was sculpted by Rich Collins. This photo was staged for a magazine article – I can’t remember which magazine – to publicize the show which was set to open the following May of ’92. Tom and I felt ridiculous as the photographer kept snapping away. For some reason I picked up a scale rule and started measuring Ursula’s head. Tom is probably saying something like, “I guess I’ll just hold this pencil up and pretend I’m art directing.”
Honestly, though, this picture brings back a lot of memories for me of a very happy time working at Disneyland in the late 1980s and 90s. We’re standing in front of the desk of my boss - the incredible Clare Graham - in a building which no longer exists today. This was before the big corporate “Team Disney Anaheim” building was built. The Entertainment-Art Department office was adjacent to the old parade rehearsal hall which was located approximately where the current off-ramp from the 5 freeway directs cars into a massive parking structure. If our “ghosts” are still occupying that space, they are being driven through daily by thousands of cars driving to Disneyland. Sad, but that’s progress, I guess.
Of special note, see the Statue of Liberty torch model up on the shelf above the dragon’s head? That model, sculpted by Rich Collins and Jackie Perrault Gonzales, was for a float in the Celebrate USA Parade that ran briefly during the “Desert Storm” conflict.
For a “behind the scenes” video of the making of Fantasmic – including a brief clip of Art Director Tom Butsch (sorry again, Tom!) and the models -