The 2016 PNW Mouse Meet Guest Speakers have been Announced! The speakers include:
Disney Legend and former Imagineer Bob Gurr has always been a man on the move. And for nearly 40 years, he’s helped move many a happy Disney theme park guests aboard vehicles and ride conveyances of his own design. As he has often quipped, “If it moves on wheels at Disneyland, I probably designed it.” And he certainly has, developing more than 100 designs for attractions ranging from Autopia to the Matterhorn Bobsleds to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Monorails, and more.
Born in Los Angeles, young Bob was fascinated with tools, mechanical devices and cars. He often crawled through a hole in the fence of nearby Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale to sneak into the cockpits of transport airplanes, while at school he decorated his test papers with sketches of automobiles.
Later, he attended Art Center College of Design, then in Los Angeles, on a General Motors scholarship, where he studied industrial design. Upon graduation in 1952, he was hired by the Ford Motor Company, but soon purchased a rubber stamp marked “R.H. Gurr Industrial Design” and went into business for himself.
Soon after, WED (Walter Elias Disney) Enterprises, today known as Walt Disney Imagineering, hired Bob to consult on design of the mini cars for Autopia. Walt Disney was so impressed with Bob’s knowledge and skill that he invited him to join his Imagineering family, which then was solely dedicated to the design and construction of Disneyland.
Over the next nearly four decades, Bob worked transportation magic developing the Disneyland Monorail Trains, the memorable Flying Saucers attraction in Tomorrowland, as well as the antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company’s Magic Skyway, which premiered at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, and more. Bob also designed the mechanical workings of Disney’s first Audio-Animatronics figure – Abraham Lincoln featured in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
In 1981, Bob retired early from Imagineering in order to launch GurrDesign, Inc., and three years later, joined creative forces with two former Imagineers to form Sequoia Creative, Inc. The firm, which specialized in “leisure-time spectaculars” and “fantastical beasts,” developed King Kong and Conan’s serpent featured at Universal Studios, Hollywood.
Among his other mechanical feats, Bob was instrumental in creating the mysterious UFO that soared over the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. He also consulted on the T-Rex animated figure featured in Steven Spielberg’s motion picture Jurassic Park.
In 1999, he was honored with the Themed Entertainment Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award (THEA). And The Walt Disney Company honored him in 2004 as a Disney Legend, again honored in 2008 with a Disneyland Window on Main Street. Bob Gurr practices a favorite life philosophy as quoted in the words of Malcolm Forbes: “While alive, live!”
Marty Sklar began his Disney career at Disneyland in June, 1955 — one month before Disneyland opened. He was hired to create The Disneyland News, a tabloid newspaper sold on Main Street for 10 cents during Disneyland’s first summer. Two weeks after he started — at age 21 — Marty had to present the newspaper concept to Walt Disney. Fortunately, Walt liked it — and Marty says that’s why his career at Disney lasted 54 years.
• After completing his last year at UCLA, where he served as Editor of The Daily Bruin, Marty returned to Disneyland’s publicity and public relations group in 1956, and worked for the Walt Disney Company continuously until his retirement on Disneyland’s 54th birthday, July 17, 2009. On that day, Disney paid tribute to Marty with the ultimate Parks & Resorts honor: dedicating a window in his name on Disneyland’s City Hall.
• He moved to WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) in 1961 to work on shows for the New York World’s Fair 1964-65. For 10 years, until Walt Disney’s death in December, 1966, Marty wrote personal material for Walt, including his messages in the Annual Report and a 25-minute film that expressed Walt’s vision for Walt Disney World and Epcot.
• Starting in 1974, for 30 years, Marty was the creative leader of Imagineering as Vice President, President and Vice Chairman & Principal Creative Executive before retiring as Exec. Vice President, Imagineering Ambassador.
• He is the only Disney cast member to participate in the opening of all 11 Disney Parks around the world, and was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2001. He has also received the Lifetime Achievement award from TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) and has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions). In 2007, Marty received the prestigious Professional Achievement Award from UCLA. Starting in 2008, he served a two year term on the Board of Directors of the UCLA Alumni Association.
• Marty’s community service includes two terms as an elected member of the Anaheim City School District Board of Education. Twenty-six years ago, the Sklars were among six founders of Ryman Arts, a non-profit foundation providing teaching and mentoring for talented young high school artists. The free weekend program has served over 6,000 students in Southern California.
Following his retirement from Disney, Marty formed Marty Sklar Creative ”to answer all the requests I receive for concept development, speaking engagements, writing and advice about leadership”. Disney Editions has published two of Marty’s books: “Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms” in 2013; and “One Little Spark! – The Road to Imagineering” in 2015.
When asked to describe her job, Stacia Martin is likely to smile and reply, “How much time do you have?”
Stacia, who in 2016 celebrates her 38th year with The Walt Disney Company, is based out of Disneyland in California, but spends much of her time on special projects for diverse Disney groups including Walt Disney World, Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney Consumer Products, Walt Disney Records, Disney Destinations, Disney Cruise Line, The Walt Disney Archives, the Disney Legends program, D23, Disney Interactive, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Disney Entertainment Productions and the ABC Cable Networks Group.
An early predilection for art led Stacia to focus her professional goals at age seven during a third grade “career day.” Self-trained “with refinements” (Illustration Studies at California State University), Stacia began her Disney job a week and a day after her high school graduation.
At first, it was not strictly art or the tricky “quick sketch” skills that occupied her time; as an avid Disney fan and collector, Stacia first found her niche in the original Disneyana Shop on Main Street in Disneyland. There, and later when opening The Disney Gallery in New Orleans Square, she enjoyed spending time with Park Guests whose specialized questions were well met by her knowledge of Disney lore. Today Stacia continues to share this history as a writer, creating and presenting illustrated lectures, and with appearances in Disney video documentaries.
Alongside art assignments, Stacia has enjoyed an array of duties: being an “Audio Art Director” for Walt Disney Imagineering’s New Fantasyland attractions at Disneyland, an “Audio Archeologist” for the innovative Disneyland Forever digital system, and spearheading the restoration of one of her favorite films, Walt Disney’s 1967 musical The Happiest Millionaire.
Since 1985, Stacia has traveled extensively for Disney. In 2001 she opened the preview center for Hong Kong Disneyland, and exotic locales such as Australia, Indonesia, Scotland and Singapore have shared her calendar with trips throughout the USA.
Recent assignments have continued in their variety: illustrating books, designing collectibles, creating specialty art, and enjoying a multimedia presence across radio, television and podcasts. Favorite writing projects include The Sounds of Disneyland, the elegant book accompanying Walt Disney Records’ 50th Anniversary CD box set A Musical History of Disneyland, and Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair, included in a 5 CD celebration one of the most innovative periods in Disney history. Stacia was also tapped to write the historic liner notes for The Walt Disney Legacy Collection’s 2015 CD release honoring the 60th anniversary of Disneyland.
Stacia says that some of her favorite moments are the simplest ones… particularly the time spent drawing for children. “To watch a child’s face light up when three circles suddenly become Mickey Mouse before their eyes, and then to show them that this is something they can learn to do, too–their reactions, to me, are the true definition of Disney’s magic.”
She is particularly proud to have been named to the inaugural “classes” of both Walt Disney Legacy and Disney “Archives Angels” award recipients. “Being able to carry on the legacy of Walt Disney and his original staff…to create images for people that will mean as much to them as their predecessors have to me…it’s not a job, it’s a privilege.”