Kick Off Women’s History Month By Looking At The Women Behind The Magic
We can’t think of a better way here at MickeyBlog to kick off Women’s History Month than by celebrating some of the incredible Women who helped make Disney theme parks what they are today! Here are a few of the #WomenBehindtheMagic for Walt Disney Imagineering!
I absolutely LOVE the work of Mary Blair! She started her career in 1940 and was a pioneer in the theme park and film industries. She is known for her innovative color palette which you can see in Disney attractions, resorts, films and more! It was Mary’s eye for colors that brought a depth to some of Disney’s most memorable films but she is probably most well-know for the childlike art style that perfect complemented Walt’s vision for “it’s a small world.”
She is credited with the color scheme and art design for the attraction which would initially appear in the 64-65 World’s Fair. It was her shapes, colors, and abstract compositions that would take guests on a stunning visual odyssey that still resonates with guests today. Throughout her Disney career, Mary played key roles in design for a variety of attractions, exhibits and murals for the theme parks in California and Florida.
Harriet Burns has the distinction of being the first women hired by WED Enterprising (which would eventually become Walt Disney Imagineering) in a creative role. She worked on designs and prototypes for many Disney attractions on both coasts. During her time as an Imagineer Harriet was involved in coming up with concepts for Sleeping Beauty Castle, Matterhorn Bobsleds, New Orleans Square and Haunted Mansion.
She also designed the signing birds for Disney’s first ever Audio-Animatronic show – Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. During the World’s Fair she was also involved in projects including Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln and the Carousel of Progress.
Alice Davis was the designer and personal stylist for the animated figures in “it’s a small world” and Pirates of the Caribbean. She joined WED Enterprises in 1963 when Walt recruited her for “it’s a small world.” She was the artist behind more than 150 styles and costumes for the characters from around the world.
Alice is also credited with establishing costuming procedures, a manufacturing base, and developing quality control refurbishing techniques, which established the standards for three-dimensional characters in rides and shows created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
Dorothea Redmond joined WED Enterprises in 1964 after a successful career in film. She was know for her work as an illustrator and painter and designed interior and exterior settings for many of the shops and restaurants in Disneyland, particularly in the New Orleans Square area. She famously worked on 21 Royal which sits above Pirates of the Caribbean and also came up with the concept for the incredible Castle Mural you see below!
Other noteworthy projects include the design for the Plaza Inn and various areas in Fantasyland, Adventureland and even the architecture of Main Street U.S.A.
Doris Woodward has been with Disney Since 1979 and was integral in bringing the World Showcase pavilions of EPCOT to life. She would go on Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.
Doris also played an important role in international theme park development working on the opening of Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. Most recently, she worked on Shanghai Disney Resort which opened in 2016 where she is credited with developing the culturally relevant details for the resort to give it an authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese feel.
Kathy began her career working in Adventureland merchandise locations back in 1976 before eventually becoming an Imagineer. She would work on projects including the Seas with Nemo and Friends at EPCOT, provided creative director for Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach and also worked on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. A high point was the debut of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in 2012. She held the title of Imagineering’s Atlantic regional executive overseeing the creative portfolio and strategy for Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris and Disney Cruise Line before retiring in 2018.
Hats off to all of these incredible women who continue to inspire us every time we visit the theme parks or watch a Disney film!
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