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The ABCs of Creativity: Yes, and…

In improv comedy, you never want to shut down the person you’re on stage with. Even if you have no idea how something is going to be funny, you need to take what you’re given and add to it. The phrase is “Yes, and…” Because improv is creative and difficult enough, negating someone’s idea will shut down the comedy as it destroys the other person’s confidence.

Walt Disney knew instinctively that creativity came from the “Yes.” People who said “no” were always looking at how not to do things and that’s what they would end up doing – nothing. When Walt proposed something that sounded crazy, the answer was always “Yes.” Sometimes, there was a qualifier and the answer was “Yes, if…” People who said “No” to Walt often found themselves unemployed.

When creating the effect for the Rainbow Caverns, Heinz Haber told imagineer Claude Coats that it would be statistically impossible to keep the colors separate form each other. They would be gray within a week. When Coats relayed Haber’s assessment to Walt, Walt said, “Well, it’s fun to do the impossible” (according to MiceChat). Walt trusted his people to find a way to accomplish the impossible because he believed in the power of “Yes.” As long as someone thought they could or they thought that Walt thought they could, they usually did.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity,” “the Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories,” and join our Patreon. For more on the Disney Company, get “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Claude Coats

Claude Coats started out in backgrounds in animation; through this experience, he became a master at establishing moods through the use of atmosphere. In the 1950s, Coats designed the building for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, pioneering the idea of sculpting ideas before they were built. He told imagineer Tony Baxter that Baxter should remain hands on. Drawing can trick people into believing that something can be done. Those same tricks can’t be done to a sculpture.

He worked alongside Marc Davis on the Pirates of the Caribbean, and at the completion of that attraction, he was assigned the Haunted Mansion. While both Coats and Davis wanted to be the headman on the Haunted Mansion, it was there interaction that made the Haunted Mansion a classic attraction. The tension between the two came from their differing ideas about what the Haunted Mansion should be. Coats wanted a scarier attraction. Marc Davis wanted some humor in the attraction.

Walt Disney recognized that Coats had a knack for being able to translate two dimensional images into three dimensions. Coats was also able to lay down tracks that maximized the use of a building’s interior. These talents were put to good use by the Disney Company. Find out what your talents are and find the best way to use them.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park” by Jeff Kurtti.

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.

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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Marc Davis

Marc Davis is one of Walt’s Nine Old Men, who worked many of the early films designing characters that included animals from Bambi and Maleficent. When Marc Davis came over to WED, he brought his sense of humor with him. He added humorous scenes to the Jungle Cruise and was one of the main designers of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

When he was brought on to the Haunted Mansion project, he had to struggle with Claude Coats and his design preferences. The two men were equals in the office. Coats wanted a scary Mansion; Davis wanted something funnier. A compromise of sorts was reached, and Coats’ influence can be seen at the beginning of the attraction with Davis’ scenes becoming stronger in the end.

“I think that’s the whole thing with creativity is if there’s something new out there, why not give it a try?” said Marc Davis (Disney Family Album). Use Marc Davis as your motivation and give something new a try.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

“Disney Family Album #17 – Marc Davis” at https://youtu.be/pVf6DdqkpjU

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.

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My Niece, the Haunted Mansion and Fear

Niece and Minnie at Disneyland

When my oldest niece was about five, my mom and I took her on the Haunted Mansion. We went through the Stretching Room, down the Portrait Gallery and boarded the same Doom Buggy. As we rolled up the stairs and into the mansion, I was getting into it. The Haunted Mansion isn’t scary, but it’s fun to pretend it is.

So, I was taking everything seriously. The armor, the endless hallway with the floating candelabra, the chair that seems to be staring at you. Each new “horror” made me look more fearful. As we rotated to see the body trying to get out of the coffin, my mom hit me in the shoulder.

“Lighten up. You’re scaring your niece,” she whispered at me.

I switched the way I was looking at the mansion and laughed at its humorous elements. I kept smiling through the ride, and my niece had a great time. She wasn’t afraid of no ghosts.

Fortunately, the team of Claude Coats and Marc Davis helped to provide the elements of a frightening atmosphere and comic presentations. (Of course, there are plenty of contributions from other prominent imagineers, like Rolly Crump and his human-like furniture and wallpaper and the effects pioneered by Yale Gracey with Crump.) So, you can see the Haunted Mansion the way you want to. It is the creativity that the team put into the mansion that makes it a classic attraction that everyone loves.

For more on the Haunted Mansion and creativity, preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” You can also get “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve your Creativity for a Better Life and World.”

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

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Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Exterior and trouble accepting new ideas

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

In a story about Ignaz Semmelweis, the survival rate of children and their mothers, and handwashing included in his book “How to Fly a Horse,” Kevin Ashton points out that even in a “field as empirical and scientific as medicine… Creation is seldom welcome” (74 – 76). People need creativity and change, and they resist it at the same time. It’s part of the dichotomy of being human.

When Walt Disney wanted his imagineers to envision and create a haunted house for his theme park, they all came up with the same idea: a decrepit, run-down building that had ghosts. Walt didn’t like it. He didn’t want a run-down building ruining his pristine park.

According to Sam Gennawey’s “The Disneyland Story,” Ken Anderson, the original lead on the Haunted Mansion as we now know it, wanted to hide the run-down mansion behind trees native to Louisiana. Walt didn’t go for it.

Harriet Burns built three models for Walt to choose from. The imagineers put the pristine building behind the other two decrepit versions. Walt chose the beautiful building every time. He wanted guests to feel welcome in his park; that meant everything had to be clean and in good repair, even the haunted mansion.

Walt was working with some of the most creative people in the planet. Imagineers knew Walt, had experienced his success and demeanor first hand. Even when he told them, “We’ll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside” (Surrell, Jason, “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic,” p. 13), they insisted on trying to convince him that a haunted house needed to look a certain way.

“Everyone expects a residence for ghosts to be run-down. But Walt was always looking for the unexpected,” (Genneway, p. 180) said Claude Coats.

When those who consider themselves creative and create for a living have trouble accepting new ideas and ways of doing things, everyone else has even greater problems to accept the changes that come with innovations. It’s okay. We just need to realize that creativity is just as necessary for the advancement of humanity as being wary of the change that it brings is. As soon as we can embrace our seemingly opposed sides, we can see they are working together to make us more successful, as long as we don’t let one win over the other all the time.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company” officially releasing on April 14, 2019.