Featured Attractions

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Walt's Hub

After the construction of DISNEYLAND's "New Fantasyland", construction at the Magic Kingdom seemed to stop. The company was suffering heavy losses in Orlando after the opening of Epcot Center and was making up the difference by using its Anaheim profits to shore up the balance sheet. As soon as things improved, the company was way behind on new attractions and promptly put many under construction, though it would be years before they opened. In the meantime, the company began running promotions to get guests through the gates. Promotions like "Circus Fantasy" and "State Fair at DISNEYLAND" brought a common Ferris wheel to Walt Disney's beloved hub, an action that was deemed to be tantamount to sacrilege.

For the 35th Anniversary, a large flashing marquee setup shop in the hub. It looked more like something found in a casino than in a theme park.

The imagineers decided that something needed to be done. How could they preserve a spot that was supposed to be a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the park? They realized that if company honchos could place these temporary eyesores in the hub, they could choose to put anything there. What could be done to avoid this?

A statue honoring Walt Disney himself! Mr. Disney had long stated that he never wanted a statue of himself in the park, but in order to prevent more garish, out of place objects placed in the center of his Magic Kingdom, Imagineers figured he wouldn't mind. Master sculptor Blaine Gibson was brought out of retirement to sculpt the statue. Initially, park executives balked at the idea, but after a secret fan campaign, they approved the project. It was an immediate success, becoming a much sought after photo location and souvenir subject. Soon copies of the statue were placed in other Disney theme parks, but the original was placed in the only park Walt stepped foot in- DISNEYLAND.