by Liz Driscoll
When I saw that Tony Baxter was going to present with Josh Shipley, I knew I was going. We did not have “stage pass” (think fast pass) for their presentation, Undiscovered Disneyland, so we entered a few minutes after it started. I was trying to look and listen, so I didn’t take many pictures. The photographs and videos were eye candy for any Disney fan.
Initially, there was a circus in Disneyland. Live animals, clowns, and circus wagons were all in the park! There were circus shows, although they didn’t last too long. Tony also talked about the “Midget Autopia”. It never made it into the parks, but there are pieces still in Marceline.
Next, Tony Baxter showed some trees. Trees? Yes, trees. The trees were planted fully grown and eventually grew too tall to stay in Disneyland, so Tony… took them home… lights and all!!! They are still at his home. This was an amazing personal story.
Apparently not all goes according to plan in Disneyland. The Conestoga wagons would ride through the river crossing every eight minutes. They had wooden wheels. So, yeah, those didn’t last long. There was also a donkey caravan ride. Tony and Josh jokingly named the back two Pinocchio and Lampwick!
Video of the area by Big Thunder showed a lot of animated critters like beavers. Tony also showed the Big Thunder waterfall… the largest waterfall in Disneyland and the namesake of Big Thunder Mountain. I didn’t know that! There were also animated bears… in the water… with fur… can you imagine the upkeep?
Tony and Josh also settled the elk stag question. People discuss whether the elk were on the left or the right. The correct answer is… both! The elk were on one side but they agitated the live donkeys and were then moved to the other side. Tony Baxter shared “gone” things like the Devil’s Paint Pots and Geyser Country. These were go-to destinations for local school children visiting Disneyland.
Remember the shooting gallery used real bb’s in 22 caliber rifles! They had to paint the scenery every night! Also, people who worked the attraction had to wear ear protection.
Do you remember Rocket Man? Apparently it was said that he could “blow up” at any moment! How about the flying saucer ride? One of the ride attendants had a “Marilyn Monroe” moment! Air blows up through the floor… and up went her skirt!
Tony and Josh were able to add a test animation which Tony believes was done by Bill Justice and X Atencio. The animation shows a concept film from the Disneyland toys parade. Some were motorized, some looked like stop animation. This was before audio animatronics.
Tony and Josh also looked back at parades and events. My favorite memory they shared was the person who decided he wasn’t going to jump out and fly over as baby New Year… apparently he was nudged out anyway! The Tahitian terrace show was shown on video and they even talked about Mousetalgia’s recreation of the event that happened this year.
Whisking us off to Progress City… who knew Tony Baxter had a crush on Mother? Watching Wathel Rogers and Jack Taylor doing animation… and Tony saying they are just turning dials was kind of funny to watch.
Jumping to Disney World… ignore the topic name… Tony wanted to let us see the painting, drawing, and video compiled reconstruction of Journey into Imagination! He said Josh worked on this.
Since there’s nothing quite like good, clean fun… Josh also dug up some creative team fun with a young Tony Baxter. Playing cowboys in front of what looks like green screen, Tony Baxter couldn’t turn with the rest of the gang! He said he’s dyslexic, but he said it was funny to see him constantly correcting himself!
The best moment of the show, however, was the ending surprise. The one Tony didn’t see coming. Tom Staggs walked out at the end and announced to the audience and to Tony that he would be receiving a Window on Main Street for his years of Imagineering work!
Sixty years of Imagineering, a window on Main Street, a Disney Legend… so glad I was able to see him in person Expo weekend, both at this presentation and at the WDW Radio/Mouse Fan Travel booth!
Liz Driscoll went to Walt Disney World for the first time when she was five years old, though her Disney passion began seven years ago. She has visited Walt Disney World about twelve times in the past seven years. In the non-Disney world, she is a teacher who enjoys bringing a little bit of pixie dust in the classroom each day.