Featured Attractions

Monday, July 28, 2014

Disney Legend #7: Ward Kimball

To call Ward Kimball a character would be an understatement. Mr. Kimball was known throughout Disney as an eccentric prankster with a weird sense of humor. Many people wondered why the straight-laced Walt Disney would keep him around, but the reason was obvious- Mr. Kimball was very talented.

While his most famous character was undoubtedly Jiminy Cricket, Mr. Kimball often found himself animating sequences that other animators were too scared to even try, like the "Three Caballeros" scene in The Three Caballeros. A dazzling burst of frenetic craziness, the scene is still discussed as an innovative moment in animation.

In addition to his artistic skills, Mr. Kimball also played the jazz trombone in the Firehouse Five Plus Four alongside his fellow Disney artists. The group would often play at DISNEYLAND to appreciative guests who never realized that these talented musicians had also created many of the most beloved Disney characters featured elsewhere in the park.

Mr. Kimball's love of trains also influenced the very creation of DISNEYLAND itself. He helped Walt build the backyard train whose existence led to Walt building his Magic Kingdom.

Mr. Kimball passed away in 2002, but his influence lives on in the characters he animated and in the park he helped build. In 2005, Ward got a posthumous honor from DISNEYLAND itself- a new train was placed on the tracks- the Ward Kimball. It was the first train at DISNEYLAND named for a Disney Legend. (The other trains are named after famous railroad executives.) The Ward Kimball is easy to spot- it's the only train with a Disney character painted on it- Mr. Kimball's Jiminy Cricket.