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.
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