Last week was marked with a “grand” day in Disneyland park. It was the 56th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama…you know, that grand finale scene you pass as you travel back in time to the land of the dinosaurs while aboard the Disneyland Railroad! It was created by the brilliant Claude Coats who was also chosen personally by Walt Disney to help in the making of Disneyland back in the 1950s.
Claude was born in San Francisco on June 17, 1913 and graduated from USC with a architecture and fine arts degree. He later joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1935 as a background painter for films. His artistic touch made its way onto backgrounds of some the most beloved and classic Disney animated films such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Fantasia”, and “Peter Pan”.
Work was only a portion of Claude’s wife though. He met his wife Evelyn Henry while working at the Studio and two years later, they were married and had two sons named Alan and Lee. After the celebrations died down, he went back to work and joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) in 1955 to be one of the first show designers for Disneyland. During his tenure, Claude put his artistic touch on some classic attractions that are still around today like the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as the Diorama.
Claude retired in November 1989 after working with Disney for 54 years. He was named a Disney Legend in 1991 and passed away on January 9, 1992. For his passionate and quality work, he was given a window on Main Street USA. His window can been seen above the Emporium and says “Coats & Co., Claude Coats, Proprietor, Big and Tall Sizes for Gentlemen.” So fitting for a man who put a “coat” of paint and fun on everything he did.
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(via Disney Parks Blog)
Do you like the Grand Canyon Diorama scene while you’re on the Disneyland Railroad? What are some of the things that you love to look at in it? If you had the chance to add a scene to the large Diorama, what would it be and why? Comment below!