Our blog partner, Alain Littaye of Disney and More, brings us an article about an Imagineer whose name you may not recognize, but whose work you certainly will - Don Carson. I'm reposting the article here to MiceChat at Alain's request. (Alain is French and speaks and writes English as a 2nd language, as a result some of the word choices and phrases may seem odd at first, but you'll still enjoy the wonderful information and photos - we absolutely appreciate the effort that Alain puts in to complete these articles for us in English!):
Author Alain Littaye:
It's with great pleasure that I introduce today a two part column about former Imagineer Don Carson.
Don was initially trained as a commercial illustrator at the Academy of Art College of San Francisco. Launching a freelance career in the early 1980’s, Don quickly discovered he disliked working as a commercial illustrator, and much preferred designing for environmental and theatrical projects. This style of art allowed him to communicate ideas through conceptual drawings, and were not merely selling a product or illustrating an editorial.
Don also had a childhood love for Disneyland that later manifested itself as a series of beautiful sketches of different areas of the park. These sketches were created for a proposed book to be called “Attention to Detail, A Disneyland Sketchbook”. Although this book was never published the work created for it became the foundation of his portfolio, which led to his being hired as an Imagineer.
Here are some of the sketches from that proposed book, from the top: Adventureland, Treehouse, Fantasyland.
Below, Don Carson artwork of the Briar Patch shop for WDW Splash Mountain.
This next rendering was done for a Critter House, always for WDW Splash Mountain.
Don also designed a WDW Splash Mountain wishing well...
...as well as the Splash Mountain-Frontierland train station.
Below, Don's rendering for a "Critter Elixir Wagon" to be located on the exterior section of the Splash Mountain attraction.
During the production of Splash Mountain, Don started work with Imagineer Joe Lanzisero on the beginning phase of what would become Mickey’s Toontown for Disneyland California. Unlike his work on Splash Mountain, Toontown worked with a team of designers, including Hani El Masri, Andrea Favilli, Marcelo Vignali, Maggie Parr, Chuck Ballew, Jim Shull, and Judy Chin. Don became the Senior Show Designer responsible for the Downtown portion of the new land, and eventually participated in the construction phase of the attraction
At the top of this article, the rendering of Don Carson's vision for Mickey's house. Below a picture of the house actually built in ToonTown.
Below, an early concept for Toontown when it was still under the working title of Mickey Land. As you can see the rolling slope of the street was supposed to go up and down. Considering the problem of accessibility for some guest, the idea was later turned into the flat land you see today.
The rendering below is a Toontown elevation for the island building located in the downtown portion of the land. Some of the buildings designed by Don made it into in the final Disneyland version of the Toontown we know, others not.
Since the buildings in Toontown do not follow traditional right angle construction methods, all concepts needed to be done as both flat elevations and three quarter view sketches. Below are examples of the Barber Shop (not found in the finished land) and the Fireworks Factory. The black and white sketches were used to create construction drawings while color sketches helped communicate the desired final look for the structures.
The next rendering is of the now famous “Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin” facade.
Although the Toontown Powerhouse facade did make it into the finished land, the elevated track depicted in the concept sketch did not. The original intent for the Roger Rabbit attraction was for it to take place on two stories. As part of the attraction, vehicles would pop out of the Powerhouse facade on a second story and crash and careen through the Glass Factory and Gag Warehouse facades. This second story feature was later cut, but the second story balcony that would have supported these vehicles remains in both the Disneyland and Tokyo parks as you will see in the pictures below.
This next rendering is for the Goofy Gas Station.
This last sketch was one of the very first done for the project and depicts a "Piano Movers" truck, which unfortunately did not make it into the park.
Don worked on many other projects for the Disney parks, including these Adventureland themed elements, like this Elephant God, in fact a penny pinching machine - the arms of the elephant god would animate and give the illusion that it was pressing your penny! It was build at Disneyland, Anaheim
Same for this Adventureland truck with an Indiana Jones theming, which was also built.
I love this next one! Don's design for the entrance of a Hook's Tavern at WDW Magic Kingdom, with lamps based on a design that appears in Disneyland's Peter Pan attraction.
In part two of this tribute to Don Carson's artwork, we will have a look at the other projects that Don did participate during his career at WDI. Don't miss it!
Keep reading - Part 2 below
All artwork by Don Carson and pictures: copyright Disney - WED enterprises