My regular readers know that I am passionate about how the past is preserved. We, as a culture, are so obsessed with money that blow our heritage off all the time. That’s one reason I wrote a new article for Travel + Leisure about the original Disney attractions that Walt knew best.
The destruction of Walt Disney World’s Snow White’s Scary Adventures, which happens on Friday, distressed me enough for me to write a slideshow feature about the oldest Disney rides, and for it, I talked to Bob Gurr, an Imagineer who helped build Disneyland in 1955 and went on to be a crucial designer for the park’s most seminal rides.
That same passion for making details about our past available to everyone has inspired me to put Gurr’s full interview on this blog so that anyone can read his words. Magazine and Web articles can only put so many words into stories before people’s click fingers get itchy. But there’s no reason the words of someone as esteemed as Gurr should be left on the cutting room floor. (I also salvaged a choice nugget from an interview with Anthony Bourdain last year.)
Make sure you go to Travel + Leisure and read my whole piece — that will make everyone happy, including me. You can also buy Bob’s book on engineering and Disney History, Design: Just for Fun, at his website. You probably have a long emotional connection with his worth without even knowing it, since he shaped the vehicles of most of Disney’s most iconic ride systems from the Disneyland Monorail (a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark) to the Haunted Mansion‘s distinctive Omnimover (a name he coined).
I asked Bob to discuss a few Disneyland attractions that he had a hand in, and the way Walt Disney figured into their creation. Some of his recollections won’t be new to Mouseheads, but they are full of reverence for the process, and considering the cultural importance of the results of that process to American culture, it’s worth putting on the record anyway. Here’s what Bob said, in his words.