We just returned from Southern California where we spent almost three days at Disneyland. One night while we were waiting for a light show to begin I was looking at the facade of the It’s A Small World ride and thinking about how much I’ve always loved it when I realized that it surely must be an Alexander Girard design. I decided to research its history when we returned home. Then on my way out of the park I noticed an art exhibit on Main Street called something like The Colors of Mary Blair. I didn’t know who Mary Blair was, but I figured there would be plenty of time for me to find out during another park visit. That was a mistake; I never did get back to see the exhibit.
Through my internet research I learned that the designer of the small world facade (and interior sets) was not Alexander Girard, but Mary Blair. And now I’m just kicking myself for missing her exhibit. Mary Blair was a favorite artist of Walt Disney and she worked on a number of projects for him. Still, the similarities between her work and Girard are so strong that I did a search with both their names and that led me to this post which I highly recommend for both content and visuals – you’ll even find a short video of Walt Disney and Mary Blair discussing the small world design with a scale model of the project.
Luckily for me The Walt Disney Family Museum in The Presidio (San Francisco) has a collection of Mary Blair’s art and even a selection of her merchandise in their gift shop. I learned this from the Magic of Mary Blair website that her two nieces run. It’s wonderful – do take a look. You can even see what I missed at the Disneyland exhibit by visiting this blog post. Below are just a few favorite images of Mary Blair’s art that I found online.