Monday, February 23, 2015

Tomorrowland, August 1969

Let's start today off with a wonderful shot of one of the whimsical Mary Blair tile murals that used to grace Tomorrowland's main corridor. This one is the south mural; the two murals illustrated the theme of "The Spirit of Creative Energies Among Children". Look at that kid being creative on that bicycle; Or is he being a showoff? And the girl dangling from the balloon, should that really be encouraged? I think she should have used the theme, "The Spirit of Children Watching Television and Eating Snacks". This mural was covered over in 1986 when "Star Tours" was added. I wonder if we'll ever see it again?

Over at the entrance to the New Tomorrowland, one could find this unusual fountain, with water cascading from strange, amorphous shapes. Alien spaceships? I have always loved the silvery sculptural metal walls that grace both sides of the entrance, with their many angles and textures reflecting the sunlight.


Nanook said...


I always had a fondness for the fountains gracing the entrance to the "new" Tomorrowland.

And as for the Mary Blair mural - where's the parental supervision-??!! Nowadays 'children' under the age of about 15 had better not be seen in public without some sort of adult supervision, otherwise those adults may receive a visit from CPS or the cops. Ahh - such a world in which we now live. I think I need to relax in my high-flying balloon swing.

Thanks, Major.


Those ceramic basins to those fountains were saved and are in storage.....not sure about the poles--anyway about two-three years ago a set was pulled out and there was a proposal to install a set out on the "patio" at Walt Disney Imagineering. It sure would be nice to see them as fountains again. They haven't been put up yet!

Rosie said...

As a kid, these were two of my most favorite icons of tomorrowland. I'm just waiting for the day they unveil Blair's murals again!!! Thanks for sharing these great photos! love, rosie

Unknown said...

Ah, the Mary Blair Murals...

It's funny but as a kid I never cared for her work. At that age I preferred hard-line realistic renderings. Of course now With a little (a very little!) maturity I view her work with nothing but admiration and fondness.

As for the murals themselves I've seen photos (that I can't seem to dig up) that show minimal damage to the North mural to attach the covering structure. But the South mural is toast. The bottom third was cut away to open that part of the building to ground level. And there's a YouTube video with a link on Yesterland showing substantial bands being removed by hammer to make some necessary change on that building. Oh well.

K. Martinez said...

The Mary Blair mural image is awesome. It almost implies that "it's a small world" could've been thematically placed in Tomorrowland.

Unfortunately, I doubt we'll see the murals again. I seem to remember that quite a few holes were punched into the Mary Blair murals to support the new skin for the current Tomorrowland murals. As much as I love Mary Blair's Grand Canyon Concourse mural at the Contemporary Resort, I think they screwed up the surrounding interior that now it seems mismatched and irrelevant.

It's sad to think of all the water elements that have been removed from Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom through the years. In Disneyland, it was Cascade Peak, Skull Rock Lagoon and Tomorrowland entrance fountains.

In the Magic Kingdom it's the Caribbean Plaza fountains, the Fantasyland Lagoon for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Tomorrowland Skyway falls and most of all the jet-spray falls of the Tomorrowland entrance pylons that are now gone. I'm glad we still have the submarine lagoon in Tomorrowland.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, what kids need these days is a few years in military school! And they need haircuts too, the hippies.

Mike Cozart, I guess I always assumed that the basins were made of hammered metal of some kind. Ceramic, huh? It would be nice to see them being used again, though of course the general public wouldn't get a chance to check them out.

Rosie, we can only hope!

Patrick Devlin, I think I have always liked Mary Blair's work, mostly because of her influence on the background art and design in the 1940's and 50's; even as a kid I thought that the backgrounds in "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan" were especially wonderful, and that was largely due to her influence. I am not holding my breath about the murals coming back, but I believe that the damage you mentioned (even the chiseled-away bottom portions) could be restored if somebody wanted to do it enough. Folks from Disney used to say that the murals were "perfectly preserved" beneath the newer artwork… were they misinformed, or just lying?

K. Martinez, has the interior of the Contemporary Resort been changed drastically? I haven't seen any recent photos. I'm curious about what was done. I love any water features at the parks, there is just something calming and beautiful about them (or dramatic, in the case of waterfalls). Don't forget how Schweitzer Falls has become a mere trickle! I worry that the Sub's days are numbered (it might be years, but still…) and that the lagoon will be filled in like the one in Florida.

Anonymous said...

The Blair murals were a wonderful artwork that I didn't have the sense or taste to appreciate when young. I certainly miss them now.

Their destruction seems like straight-up vandalism. I wish the Disney management had some perspective of their park facilities as historic and valuable art works in themselves, and not just decorations on an ATM machine.

We saw the Mary Blair exhibit recently at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. There was a nice little feature on this work, some development sketches, fabrication and installation photos, etc.

The narrative was clear that the bulk of the maquettes and sketches are lost while the installed work is largely damaged by installation of later work with some pieces destroyed and others drilled through, etc. It is doubtful that anything meaningful could be recovered out of the debris. Apparently, no comprehensive representation of the whole composition exists any longer, just little bits. At least, that's how I understood it.

I think it would be great to see a blogger collaboration on a reproduction of the images using the photo record available. It's complicated by the curve of the facades, but might be possible to develop a definitive version in this way. That's something that even the museum organizers apparently didn't have.

I wish I had the skills to offer in putting this together, but all I know about Photoshop is the name.

Thank you, Major. Splendid stuff.


Anonymous said...

Re the fountains. Very good to hear that those bowls weren't lost. Glad to hear they might come back somewhere.

Fountains are terrific architectural amenities, popular with users and designers, but...

They are expensive to operate (pump electricity) and maintain (water damage to surrounding materials, waterproofing upkeep) and are personal injury liability magnets.

So most architectural fountains end up as planter boxes or sculpture after a few years in the facility managers hands.


Chuck said...

Major - although I'm sure it's shown up here before, and I know I have to have seen it in the 70's, I don't think I've ever REALLY looked at the south mural before. Thanks for sharing.

JG - I think a collaborative reconstruction is a brilliant suggestion!

It's a shame that there isn't a comprehensive representation of the overall composition anymore. I seem to recall seeing a 2-D rendition of the artwork in a Disney book some years ago, but couldn't tell you where, and I guess it wasn't complete anyway.

Unknown said...


I suppose with money the murals are restorable, though I fear for that lower third of the South mural, basically where all the water scenery was placed.

As for Disney's position, Yesterland quotes from John Canemaker's The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: “Mary Blair’s murals were not damaged or painted on,” [longtime Imagineering executive] Marty Sklar notes, “but the decision was made for cost reasons to leave them in place—hidden treasures at Disneyland!”

I think think the North mural is fairly intact but the video at seems to put to doubt Mr. Sklar's statement. But if restoration was a project it might only require 80 or 90 tiles if the lower section of the South mural was taken out in a preserved section.

Me? I'm sneaking up on the roof with a crowbar on one of those 24-hour openings at the park and doing a little "restoration" of my own. "Gee! I don't know how that Star Tours mural could have ended up on the ground, sir!"

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, in general I think the Disney Company has preserved its past better than most, but on occasion they seem to be amazingly short sighted. It seems hard to believe that they don't have rough sketches, or official archives photos, or SOMETHING. I don't think that I have enough good photos of the murals to put together some kind of composite image. Yes, the curve would definitely add to the difficulty, but it would be cool.

Chuck, see my comment to JG! Plus… I'm way too lazy. It's true. I think I remember seeing a 2-D rendition of the mural, but (in my memory) it was not accurate to the final design. WHO KNOWS!

Patrick, I have seen that video, and it is painful to watch. That guy is just hammering away. OUCH. I was pretty sure that it was Marty Sklar who had said that the murals were untouched. He HAS to know the truth, right? Marty seems like a nice man, but a lot of his job was public relations, after all. Let's keep those rabid Disneyland fans calm! On another Marty subject, any time I read a quote from Walt that seems too "greeting card inspirational" (, I chalk it up to Marty. It sort of bugs me that so much of what "Walt said" is stuff that he never actually said (or he said them, but Marty wrote them first).

Nancy said...

love Mary Blair's work. this is a favorite of mine as well. Likewise, the mural in the Grand Canyon Concourse at WDW's Contemporary Resort is just so impressive. It is especially cool when the sun is shining in from the glass wall of windows. :)

The fountain bowls remind me of whales' tails rising gracefully from the water on this angle. Hoping to see them in person someday as well. Maybe by the next time I get back to Disneyland they will be on display once again!

Thanks for these two beauties, David! :)