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D23 Expo - WDI 60th: Working With Walt

WDI 60th: Working With Walt

On Sunday there were a series of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) panels celebrating their 60th Anniversary. The first panel of the morning was entitled working with Walt and featured Disney Legends Marty Sklar, X Atencio, Alice Davis, and Bob Gurr.

Geeks Thoughts/Observations:
This panel ran much the same as several other discussions they have been involved in. Most of the stories I had heard before, but it is always great to hear them again from those that lived them. There will not be that many more chances to hear from some of them as they are getting up there in age.

This was the first panel of the morning and it started at 9:30am up in Stage 23 on the third floor. Due to the early start time and many still working their way into the convention center as the panel started the room was not even half full. By the end it reached probably 3/4ths the way. I am guessing many did not venture up because they got in after it started. I would have liked to have seen an early entry line or something to allow more guests amble time to get up to the area to see the presentation.

A quick run down of the discussion with some notes that stuck out to me:

  • After the introductions the first question was when was the first time you met Walt:
    • Alice Davis - He stopped by her and Marc's table while at dinner one evening and was fascinated by her work on elastic in garments.
    • Bob Gurr - Did not even realize he met Walt the first time since it was a weekend and everyone was dressed down and talking about cars until Walt walked away and someone told him.
  • Bob Gurr talked about how he was asked to work on the Lincoln project.. his instructions were "Make it work". He also commented on how it would have been an easier task if Walt had chosen say Grover Cleveland instead because of his body shape...
  • Alice Davis commented on going from Dolls to Dirty Old Men in her career... she started work at WDI doing the costumes for It's a Small World and eventually worked on Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Alice Davis shared a story of what happened when she asked Walt about the budget for the Small World Costumes.. the response was her concern is to design the outfits and it was up to another group to figure out how to pay for it.
  • Alice Davis - shared a Walt philosophy - Give everyone more than they expect.. if you cheat them you will never see them again
  • They discussed how WDI has changed. When Walt was there there were no titles, no names, no formal meeting schedule. You met when you needed to and there was only one name on the door.. Walt Disney.
  • X Atencio - Walt had the ability to find talents we did not know we had, such as song writing for him. He then sung a few verses of Pirates for us.
  • Bob Gurr - Walt was always interested in what you were going to do next... not what you had done.
  • Bob Gurr - In those days there were no modern tools to get in the way of the work being done. There were no cell phones, computers, etc..
  • They commented on how they thought the Saving Mr. Banks film got it right when you could hear Walt's cough. That was his warning to alert you he was coming.
  • Walt would say that is kind of interesting but what if.... which would lead to new directions for projects
  • Another quote that was mentioned was a story of how someone was to show Walt designs of a project. They only did one option. Walt's response was it is hard to choose when there is only one.

Below are some pictures and a quick video clip from the presentation.


WDI 60th: Working With Walt
Marty Sklar was the moderator/leader of the discussion.

WDI 60th: Working With Walt
Bob Gurr mad an energetic and funny entrance as always.

WDI 60th: Working With Walt
Bob Gurr escorting Alice Davis to her seat.

WDI 60th: Working With Walt
Alice Davis

WDI 60th: Working With Walt
X Atencio

WDI 60th: Working With Walt
Marty Sklar

Bob Gurr and Marty Sklar share a Walt memory in the clip above.

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