This last weekend, the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet held its eighth annual gathering of Disney fans, vendors, and Imagineers. Located up in Lynnwood, Washington and spearheaded by Planning Committee Chairman Don Morin, it is a celebration of all aspects of the Disney experience.
Over at the Embassy Suites, the convention’s official hotel, the festivities began the afternoon prior as D23 held their own mixer complete with nachos and special guest.
Afterwards, the entertainment continued with pin trading, PNWMM Bingo, and a trivia challenge. A door decorating contest also took place later on in the evening around the hotel.
The next morning, rope drop for the main event was held at 1000 over at the Lynnwood Convention Center. As is tradition, the corridors outside the main stage/vendor area were filled with photo-ops and displays of impressive collections of Disneyana.
Once inside, there was a number of stations set up with different attractions and activities. In one corner, this year’s speakers sat patiently and cordially autographing whatever materials were brought to them.
On the other side of the room was the annual charity raffle, benefiting the Ryman Arts Foundation and the Seattle Children’s Hospital.
A wide variety of different items and experiences were offered up, including exclusive merchandise from Mickey’s of Glendale, Club 33, and one-of-a-kind pieces of art.
Besides that, different booths had other Disneyana for sale, from books to ephemera, to Dole Whip, to original art.
In the center of the room was the stage and seating area for the day’s speakers.
As the programming commenced, Don Morin introduced Stacia Martin as the first speaker.
Martin gave a wonderful presentation on her career with Disney as a Disney Artist and Historian.
–As a life-long Orange County resident, she has never lived out of earshot of the Disneyland fireworks.
–Her professional history with Disney started at the old Disneyana shop on Main Street.
–In 1986, she moved to New Orleans Square as the first regular cast member at the Disney Gallery.
–From there she was borrowed by different divisions within the company for a variety of promotional tours across the country, doing talks and drawing sketches.
–She trained the Japanese cast members for the Disney Gallery when it opened in Tokyo Disneyland.
–WED borrowed her to help reconstruct the soundtracks (audio archeology) for the attractions in New Fantasyland.
–Other audio projects she worked on included “Disneyland Forever,” “The Lost Chords,” and “Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair.”
–Her favorite Disney musical is “Happiest Millionaire.”
The second speaker of the day was Disney Legend Bob Gurr.
Some interesting items in his illustrious history:
–He worked for Ford Motor Company right after Art Center College of Design, but found it was a dead-end job after two weeks, and quit.
–After quitting Ford, he formed his own company. WED Enterprises became a client.
–After two weeks, he became a WED employee.
–Published a book “How to Draw Cars of Tomorrow” at 20 years old.
–His first assignment for Disneyland was to design the body for the Autopia cars.
–Other projects for Disneyland included the parking lot trams, Mad Tea Party, Omnibus, Fire Engine, Viewliner, Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Monorail, PeopleMover, and the Motor Boat Cruise.
–At the 1964-65 World’s Fair, his main focus was “Ford’s Magic Skyway,” however he consulted on most of the other Disney pavilions as well.
–He designed the Omnimover ride system as a means to direct the guest’s attention to specific areas in a given attraction. It originated in Monsanto’s “Adventure Thru Inner Space.”
–The Florida monorail’s shape resembles the front of a Lear Jet with a wrap-around windshield and flush rivet construction.
–He incorporated himself within two weeks of being let go from Disney.
–Subsequently, he worked on Universal Studio’s King Kong, Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” the 1998 “Godzilla,” the pirate ship battle at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino, the Michael Jackson tour, and a spaceship for the LA Olympics closing ceremony.
–He has a new video out through Ape Pen Publishing: “Bob Gurr: Turning Dreams Into Reality.”
Last but not least, Disney Legend Marty Sklar.
Some highlights from his talk:
–Video of Richard Sherman singing to Sklar on the occasion of his retirement.
–His creation of the “Goof Award” for not-so-successful projects.
–“If you don’t fail from time to time, you’re probably not doing anything new.”
–Video excerpt from the “Marty Sklar, Walt, and EPCOT” special feature with Leonard Maltin from the “Walt Disney Treasures: Tomorrowland” DVD set.
–Three things that characterized Walt Disney: Inspiration, Trust, Optimism.
–On Jack Lindquist: “The greatest thing he did was the 30th anniversary of Disneyland when he did the Gift-Giver at the end, at Disneyland, they gave away 400+ cars that year.”
In between speakers, there was no shortage of interesting activities, from mobile photo-ops…
…To the announcement of the winners for the annual Door Decorating Contest…
…to this year’s installments of “Mousecenter.”
But even after the dust settled for the day, the fun wasn’t over for the weekend, as Sklar and Gurr were brought back on Sunday for yet another fun storytelling session.
–The two legends didn’t work together until the Ford Pavilion at the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
–Part of the effectiveness of Magic Skyway was placing the guests in the Ford cars for the ride.
–After the Fair opened, Disney flew people who worked on the attractions, and their families, to New York to enjoy the finished product.
–Both men are frequently asked why the Peoplemover was removed from Disneyland and when it will return.
–They reminisced about some of the shorter-lived Disneyland attractions, such as the industrial exhibits of Tomorrowland, and the Phantom Boat.
–The necessity of allowing people–kids and adults–to explore different things and take chances as part of their development was touched on by both.
–Gurr started at Disney October 5, 1954 at 23 years old.
–On the Autopia: “I won’t go much further than the fact that we built 40 cars and near the end of the first week, there were two running.”
–He reviewed Walt’s way of working by involving and engaging his employees instead of invoking executive process.
–It’s difficult for him to sort through his feelings about Disneyland, because the Disneyland of 1955 is so vivid in his mind.
–One of the few keepsakes he kept is one of the original Mr. Toad ride cars.
–Sklar started at Disney in Public Relations about a month before the opening of Disneyland, when he was 21 years old.
–He noted that any meeting with Walt ended with everyone knowing what decisions were made and what their assignments were, as opposed to modern day meetings that end in ambiguity.
–On advice to would-be Future Imagineers: “Read my book.”
–“There’s only one name on the door, and that’s Walt Disney. You’re never going to get your name in lights…but if you want to be part of something that’s bigger than you are, that achieves what a team can do, working together towards the same goals and objectives–that’s what we try to do in Imagineering.”
–He feels Shanghai Disneyland is the best park because it has been informed from all the lessons Disney has learned from creating all the other parks.
–On why Disneyland is so special: “Number one, it’s the only park that Walt ever walked in. Number two, it’s the foundation of everything that came after.”
In all, another great year for the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet. If you’re interested in attending for next year, keep an eye on http://www.pnwmousemeet.com/Home.html for ticket sales announcements, because each year seems to sell out quicker than the last.