Saturday, July 9, 2011

Disney, Railroads, and My Dad

Over the years my dad has attended various Disney events with me.  He is always a great sport and says he enjoys learning about things even though he isn't the Disney fanatic I am.  In fact, he took me to a Disneyana Connvention back in the day, that was just amazing!  Well this past week he was in Sacramento for the National Conventions of the National Model Railroad Association and sent me a very excited text because he was in a clinic that was all about Disney!
I think I would have enjoyed this particular talk given by imagineers John and Katie Olson.  The Olsons talked about their work in Paris working on Big Thunder and how the union rules are different so John was able to hire sculptors along with the contractors.  (John works with the contractors to bring the imagineers vision to life).   They also talked about their work on Radiator Springs and current work in Shanghai.  Below is the clinic description:

Disney Railroading Thursday July 7 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
John & Katie Olson Convention Center 310
John Olson was recruited by Walt Disney Imagineering in 1974 when Mike O'Connell (owner of Chooch Enterprises) was working there as a show writer, and producing a film on model railroading for Kalmbach Publishing, which featured a few of John's dioramas. John began with Disney as a model builder, and soon branched into production design and field art direction for the Disney Theme Parks. Katie, a Disney Scholarship winner, joined Disney shortly after John as a model painter and color designer. Together they have worked on too many Disney Theme Parks to name! Before joining Disney, John worked closely with folks like Tom Daniel, Leo Campbell, and Fred Hill, among other manufacturers and retailers. Also at time, John began publishing with Kalmbach, Carstens, Narrow Gauge Gazette, and of course the NMRA Bulletin. John will be sharing memories of those days. Given the fact that Walt Disney himself was a huge rail fan, trains are ever-present in the Disney vocabulary. Over the years there they have worked with several famous Disney characters, such as Ward Kimball (Grizzly Flats RR), Harper Goff (Great Locomotive Chase art director), Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston (private railroads in two locations), Carl Fallberg (Fiddletown and Copperopolis), and many more. The clinic takes us to the homes of the above folks and a pictorial visit to their railroads. John and Katie will also discuss the ever present thread of trains in the Disney theme parks. Katie has color designed many of the railroad stations and locomotives in several of the parks. It was during the early years at Walt Disney Imagineering that John built the Mescal Lines, Cielo Lumber Company, Jerome and Southwestern RR. Later he built (and Katie painted) the Ferrocarril de Tascosa and Calico. John will be sharing some images of his work, and discussing how building Disney theme parks is really similar to building a model railroad!

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