Update/review: Artists shine amid copious crowds at Disney World’s 40th
Related: Disney World celebrates 40 years of mid-century magic
Disney World’s updated Enchanted Tiki Room has retro feel
See below: Shag’s Disney World 40th anniversary collection | Video
Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily’s Disney World 40th anniversary collection
It’s late 1972. I’m visiting my grandparents in South Florida but I’m more excited about our day trip to the East Coast’s answer to Disneyland: Walt Disney World. The park had opened just a year earlier and promised to be – in the eyes of an 11-year-old in the early ’70s – the coolest place on Earth.
I’ll never forget my first ride on the futuristic Monorail, the spooky and fun Haunted Mansion, the cartoonish architecture of Tomorrowland, plus the iconic castle and all the classic characters. The day flew by too fast but I cherished my souvenirs, including a Haunted Mansion record that I played to death over the years.
Fast-forward some 30 years and I’m a childless grown-up in South Florida. I’ve made the rounds of most of the state’s attractions as a teenager and young adult but never made it back to the Magic Kingdom. My only Disney World experiences were a day at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and a trip to Downtown Disney for a concert at the House of Blues. Like many others, I thought I was too cool for Disney World.
But then some weird things started to happen. By my mid-40s, I had become a full-blown Tikiphile and also began to indulge my lifelong appreciation for mid-century pop culture. Like other children of the ’60s and early ’70s, we never really let go of our early influences. In my swinging bachelor pad, prints by Shag and other retro-inspired artists found a place on the walls while mugs designed by Kevin Kidney were among those that filled the shelves behind my Tiki bar.
Then, everything changed. I met the love of my life and discovered that she was a full-blown Disneyphile. I fell madly in love with her on our first trip to Disney World and we were engaged just months later at The Hukilau, the Tiki event I help organize in Fort Lauderdale. Our two seemingly disparate worlds collided. We were married at my favorite place (The Mai-Kai) and honeymooned at hers (Disney World).
My return to Disney World was like stepping back in time. The Monorail, the Haunted Mansion, Tomorrowland – it was all exactly as I remembered, only better. I discovered Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and the rest of the vast Disney World Resort. We found more and more areas of common ground beyond the Polynesian Resort and Enchanted Tiki Room.
When I discovered that Shag had designed an entire line of merchandise for the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion in 2009, that sealed the deal. Disney was cool again. I was thrilled to pick up an aloha shirt at the Haunted Mansion gift shop, and it’s become one of my most cherished Disney/Shag collectibles. Shag’s previous collaborations with Disney had included the Enchanted Tiki Room’s 40th anniversary in 2003 and Disneyland’s 50th anniversary in 2005.
As fate would have it, Shag (aka Josh Agle) was the special guest at the 2010 Hukilau. He showed some of his art and participated in many of the events, including the fashion show. It was a pleasure to work with Josh on the Master Mixologist Cocktail Challenge (he was one of the judges) and hang out with him at The Mai-Kai.
In 2011, the circle became complete when Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily were invited to participate at The Hukilau and show off their new artwork. Fresh off their work on the new Disneyland parade (they’re the art directors of “Soundsational”) and Tiki bar Trader Sam’s, they charmed us with their friendly, down-to-earth manner.
Now, here’s where I finally get around to the topic of this post: Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary. It’s a reason to celebrate on many levels, but one of the coolest is all the great retro collectibles that are being made exclusively for the occasion.
When I found out that both Shag and Kevin & Jody would be contributing their talents, I got the same feeling I had back in 1972. Forty years after opening, Disney World keeps its cool factor by employing great artists and creative people with a flair for Walt’s mid-century aesthetic that never goes out of style.
Shag’s Disney World 40th anniversary collection
Josh Agle’s colorful work captures the spirit of fun and wonder of Disney World’s iconic Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, and Polynesian Resort in his wide assortment of art and merchandise.
He created original artwork and prints; glassware and coasters; a postcard set with a tin keepsake box; an embroidered pillow; a bracelet featuring 33 individual charms; a men’s island shirt; and a women’s T-shirt.
* Click here to see photos and prices of all the items
We missed Shag’s appearance in June, his first-ever signing at Disney World (see the video below). But we’ll be on a mission to find his signature items on our next trip. They’re reportedly available only at Uptown Jewelers in Magic Kingdom, and at the Art of Disney store in Downtown Disney.
Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily’s Disney World 40th anniversary collection
These longtime Disney collaborators (they’ve been designing mouse-related items and attractions for more than 20 years) created a wide assortment of unique gift items similar to what the did for Disneyland’s 50th birthday. There’s a vintage Magic Kingdom paper cup cast in ceramic; dinnerware illustrated with the colorful map from 1971; a ceramic vase based on a famous mural at the Contemporary Resort; and a boxed set of mini-attraction posters silk-screened onto sheets of tin.
According to Kevin’s blog, the prolific duo came up with all kinds of nostalgic collectibles – including attraction replicas and scale models, and Tiki mugs for the Polynesian Resort – that didn’t make the final cut. We’re hoping we don’t have to wait for the 50th anniversary for these.
* Click here to see Kevin’s blog
Kevin & Jody’s merchandise is available now at shops around the resort (See video). They’ll be making an appearance and hosting a signing event at Disney World’s special 40th anniversary event at the Magic Kingdom on Oct. 1. We hope to see them there and will be posting a full report.
* More: Interview with Shag and photos at Walt Disney World signings
Shag.com | Shagmart.com | Flickr Shag group | Tiki mugs
Hand Pulled: The Complete Shag Print Collection
Kevin & Jody links
Miehana.blogspot.com (official blog) | Official Facebook page | Flickr page | Tiki mugs
Official Disney sites
Walt Disney World | Walt Disney Family Museum
Disney World history
* Media coverage: Video: Modern Marvels | Life: Disney theme parks, then and now
* YouTube videos of Walt Disney World’s grand opening
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9
* Fan sites: DisneyBooks.blogspot.com | Yesterland.com | WDWMagic.com.com
* Other links: Disney World on Wikipedia