In October 1971, Roy O. Disney dedicated a new home to wonder and magic in the center of what had been thousands of acres of Florida swampland. He called it “a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney,” and that tribute has been growing, expanding, and making dreams come true for forty years.
With the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World resort in 2011, many Disney fans had hoped for some fanfare and celebratory events offered by the Disney company to offer the occasion. No such events have thus far transpired. Special 40th anniversary merchandise has appeared in the parks, but little public acknowledgement has been made of the milestone for the Florida project.
Disney has, however, begun offering quiet tributes to this special anniversary. The Art of Disney Parks website, which provides a calendar of special art and collectible related events at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland as well as Passholder events, announced a special “pre-celebration” release of art honoring Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary. This special collection includes 5 new artworks dedicated to celebrating the joy and excitement of Walt Disney World, and of the Magic Kingdom (the “anniversary park”) in particular.
All 5 artworks are by established Disney artists whose style visitors to the Art of Disney stores may recognize. These artists will be appearing throughout the month of June to sign prints, chat with Disney art lovers, and discuss their point of view on this important milestone for Walt Disney World.
The weekend of June 10-12, Darren Wilson, Brian Blackmore, and Greg McCullough will be making appearances. Although many guests may be unaware of the vast number of Disney artists and designers who make the beauty of the parks possible, these men are all a part of that artistic tradition of wonder.
Darren Wilson is a graphic designer for the Disney design group whose creative talents produce many of the merchandise designs guests see in shops. He is also among the fine artists featured at Disney, and his passion for capturing what he calls the “timeless quality” of Disney characters sets his work apart. To glimpse more of his work and read his story, take a look at the 2010 Destinations in Florida interview with him.
Brian Blackmore also works with the Disney design group as a Character artist. His pieces, ranging from Mickey on a tauntaun for Star Wars Weekends to a vinylmation Baloo, focus on the attitudes and personality of the characters. Blackmore has a deep love and appreciation for the history of Disney, having helped to develop and present a retrospective on Walt Disney’s life and legacy inside the Disney company.
Greg McCullough has been an artist with the Disney fine art program since 2008 with his vibrant oil paintings of Disney characters. Starting his connection with work on Pixar merchandise in 2007, McCollough has a place in John Lassiter’s private collection and in the Disney artist pantheon. His pieces have a vibrancy and enthusiasm to them that fits well with the jubilance of the 40th anniversary and connects the rides to the characters they embody for guests.
Although some may be intimidated by the idea of “Disney art,” the pieces offered are vibrant and accessible, and the artists are, at heart, as much Disney fans as the rest of us. If you’re at the Magic Kingdom over the next few weeks, stop in at Uptown Jewelers on Main Street, enjoy the art celebrating the 40th anniversary, and chat with the artists. These men strive to create a connection between the joy and excitement of 40 years of the Walt Disney World resort and you, the reason that resort exists. Don’t be intimidated, either by the artist or by the artwork. Although you may not be comfortable with buying an original for $5,000, or even a giclee for $350, these special anniversary artworks are being offered as “petite prints” for only $19.95. That’s less than a counter service luncheon for two.
Perhaps there is no grand event announced for the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World, but there is a rich offering of images celebrating the joy created in those 4 decades. Visit the Art of Disney Parks and Uptown Jewelers and enjoy. And come back to visit us – we’ll be spotlighting the other two artists as well.
Which one of these special pre-celebration pieces is your favorite? My favorite of the three is Mickey and Pluto take Flight – what about you?