Welcome back friends to another special episode of the Disney Avenue Podcast. With all the excitement going on right now for the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, I though…what could we do on this show to really make it special for you in commemorating the 60th? And then it hit me…let’s invite the one and only Marty Sklar to come back on the show and tell us all about the opening of Disneyland because, well, simply put, Marty was there with Walt on that special day! You’re about to hear from the legend himself as he takes us back to July 17, 1955 and the opening of Disneyland!
As former vice chairman and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, Marty Sklar stood as a dedicated torchbearer of Walt Disney’s philosophy since first joining the Company a month before Disneyland opened in 1955. He helped express and preserve Walt’s spirit of optimism, happiness, and hope for the future through attractions and special exhibitions in Disney theme parks around the world.
Born Martin A. Sklar on February 6, 1934, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Marty attended the University of California at Los Angeles where he served as editor of the Daily Bruin campus newspaper. In July 1955, the student editor was recruited by Walt Disney to create an 1890-themed tabloid newspaper, The Disneyland News, which sold on Main Street during the Park’s debut year. After completing his education, Marty returned to Disneyland publicity and marketing.
He joined WDI in 1961 as part of a team assigned by Walt to develop industry-sponsored shows and pavilions for General Electric, Ford, Pepsi-Cola and UNICEF, and the State of Illinois at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Ever since, Marty served as a key representative working with American industry in developing and sponsoring attractions for Disney parks and resorts around the globe.
During his early years at Disney, Marty not only learned Walt’s philosophy firsthand, but metabolized and translated it into materials he wrote for the master showman which were used in publications, television appearances, and special films. Among them was a 20-minute movie devoted to communicating Walt’s vision of EPCOT, his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, originally intended to help resolve the urban challenges found in American cities.
Marty first became an Imagineering officer in 1974 when he was appointed vice president, concepts and planning, a role in which he guided creative development of Epcot Center at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. In 1979, he was named vice president of creative development, followed by executive vice president in 1982. He served as president and vice chairman from 1987 to 1996.
In 2001, the Company honored Marty with a special award for 45 years of service and leadership. After the 50th anniversary of Disneyland in 2005, he transitioned into a new role as Imagineering’s international ambassador. He is the only person to have attended the grand openings of all Disney parks. He retired from Disney on July 17, 2009, after 53 years with the Company.
Friends, it is with great joy and excitement that the Disney Avenue Podcast welcome back the legend himself to discuss the opening of Disneyland 60 years ago, the one and only Marty Sklar…..Enjoy!
The Disney Avenue Podcast would like to thank Geren Piltz for his contributions to this show!