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This past Saturday, I had the most wonderful experience. I was one of the lucky 300 who, over the course of three separate Saturdays, attended the Ryman-Carroll Foundation Special Tribute Event at Disneyland.
What is the Ryman-Carroll Foundation? Who was Herb Ryman? And what took place at the event?
Why, Iím glad you asked Dear Readers. I am here to tell you...
The Ryman-Carroll Foundation is a non-profit foundation that was established in 1990 as a tribute to artist and Disney legend, Herbert D. Ryman. The Ryman Program For Young Artists teaches classical drawing and painting to talented young people. Accepted students receive a full scholarship to attend art classes, which are held at the USC School of Fine Arts. Annually, over 100 high school students participate in the program and in the ten years since the program has started, over 700 students have learned the skills necessary to enjoy a successful career in the arts.
Ryman graduates have gone on to such schools as CalArts, Otis, USC, UCLA, Yale, and many more. Without the Ryman-Carroll Foundation, for many, this would not have been possible especially now that public school funding for the arts is virtually nonexistent.
Iíll let the words of Vice Chairman and Principle Creative Executive at WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering), Marty Sklar, describe for you just who Herb Ryman was.
Herbie was the greatest artist who ever worked in the theme park side of the Disney business. He drew the first sketch of Disneyland and it happened over one weekend. Walt called him in on a Friday or Saturday in 1953 and said, "Roy has to take the sketches of Disneyland to the bankers in New York on Monday."
Herb replied, "Oh, Iíd love to see them."
"You donít understand Herb. Youíre going to do them."
"I donít know what to draw."
"Iíll tell you."
Walt stood over Herbís shoulder for a whole weekend and told him what to draw. It was a roadmap of Waltís mind. From then on until Herb died during construction of Disneyland Paris, the first sketch of any project was done by Herb Ryman.
And so Dear Readers, the last of the three special tours to honor the man who was Herb Ryman and raise money to donate to the Ryman-Carroll Foundation took place Saturday. The event included brunch at Club 33 and a tour of Disneyland with Disney legends Marty Sklar, Rolly Crump, and Sam McKim.
That was the good news. The bad news, for me at least, was that it started at 7AM.
You know I never realized how tranquil Disneyland is at the hour just before the sun comes up and I hope not to make a habit of realizing this too often. 7 AM is just too early. One does get a really close parking spot, however. Another bright spot. One also meets the nicest people in line.
I arrived to find my friends (and Pin of the Month aficionados), in line for registration. Being the first Saturday of the month, it meant that Octoberís character pin, Maleficent, was available to the first five hundred, early (and I do mean early), eager beavers. My friends arrived at five to get the coveted voucher. Some got to Disneyland as early as 3 AM to get the pin. It looked like a camp out and I must confess I do not understand what would make someone get up in the wee hours of the night for a pin, even a Maleficent pin. I do, however, understand why one would get up in the wee hours to be able to eat at Club 33 and listen to Disney legends tell stories of days gone by.
I joined the group and was quickly introduced to my new friend, and MousePlanet reader, Don. Don is a big fan of Imagineering so when he read about the tour on MousePlanet, his wife gave it to him as a present. She must be a really nice lady. Don came all the way from Texas just for the event. After hearing that, I decided I had no room to complain about having to arise at 4 AM and drive to Disneyland so early.
The wait in line was not long and the registration process was swift and well organized. We showed our IDs, gained wristbands and admission tickets and were escorted to Disneylandís main gate, where we were led in groups over to New Orleans Square.
Before I go any further with the tale though, Dear Readers, I must tell you how strange and unusual it was for me to see the floral Mickey with nary a tourist around. It was rather delicious to be able to take a picture of that famous floral mouse without any obstruction. Then we walked through the berm. The streets of Town Square were virtually empty and what bliss it was. Sleeping Beauty Castle lay at the end of Main Street like a picture postcard with only Walt walking through the portcullis missing from the scene. It was the first of many treats of the day.
It was an early entry morning for Disneyland, so there were a few souls about, but as we were allowed to cross the rope that barred entrance to Adventureland, all sight of guests ceased. Now there were only maintenance folks and deliverymen. How odd, and yet strangely wonderful it was to see a man driving a sweeper machine near the Rivers of America, readying the pavement for the dayís onslaught and the delivery truck pulled up to Cafť Orleans. Rather than tarnishing magic, it was rather like finding out that Disneyland is a bit human after all. It was like being let in on a secret.
The Ryman-Carroll Foundation is located at:
315 West Ninth Street #201
Los Angeles, CA 90015
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