Mickey Mouse Paint Job

by Lani Teshima, staff writer

The Boeing 737-400 aircraft (N784AS), renamed the “Spirit of Disneyland,” made its inaugural flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 1:07 p.m. on Monday, December 16, arriving at John Wayne-Orange County Airport at 3:43 p.m. Although other overseas airlines have long enjoyed having painted Mickeys on their exteriors (such as Japan Airlines, which has sported Steamboat Willie on its Boeing 747 aircraft JA8908), this is the first time a major U.S. airline has worked with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts to paint an aircraft with Disney characters.

Detailed plans outlining the correct application of colors to the aircraft. Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

In addition to the exterior, the plane’s interior sports Disney touches as well. A commemorative plaque welcomes travelers at the forward door, while the overhead bins have printed messages inside.

According to Alaska Airlines’ spokesman Jack Walsh, this aircraft will not be limiting its service to just Seattle-Tacoma and Orange County airports. “The plane will travel throughout the West Coast, as well as Alaska, and sometimes even to Mexico,” Walsh said. Unfortunately, the logistics of the airline industry are such that it is almost impossible to know well in advance where the airplane will be flying to.

The nose of the aircraft is preppred with Minnie Mouse. Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

In addition, recent changes in airport security mean that unticketed persons have almost no access to viewing an airplane that is parked at an airport gate. “Things were different two years ago, but it’s very difficult for anyone [to view the airplane] unless they have a ticket now,” Walsh said.

A worker removes masking from Goofy after the intial paint has been applied. Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

Fortunately, the paint job is expected to stay on for a regular length of time for airplane paint jobs, which according to Walsh will be about four or five years. Hopefully you will have the good fortune to see—or better yet, travel in—aircraft N784AS. If you do, please send us a photo, and let us in on whatever details you can provide.

Donald gets a beak. Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

The Alaska Airlines Web site currently has a page devoted to the “Spirit of Disneyland,” which includes an informative slide show of photos depicting the process that artists and technicians went through to create their magic.

The new paint job was announced at the same time that the airline announced its special Kids Fly Free promotion. Travelers who book the airline’s Southern California Vacations Package through March 12 receive a free night at participating hotels – including Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Details are available at their Kids Fly Free Web page.

[All photos in this article reprinted by permission from Alaska Airlines.]

Alaska Airlines’ press release


12/16/2002 10:51 a.m.

>SEATTLE — The Eskimo that has adorned the tail of all Alaska Airlines aircraft since the early 1970s is taking a well-deserved vacation—at least on one aircraft that is.

Instead, the faces of Disney’s most recognized theme park characters—Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy—take to the skies today on a newly-painted Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 named the “Spirit of Disneyland.” The aircraft makes its inaugural flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 1:07 p.m., arriving at John Wayne-Orange County Airport at 3:43 p.m. This is the first time a major U.S. airline has worked with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts to paint an aircraft with Disney theme park characters.

To appropriately inaugurate the “Spirit of Disneyland,” Erik Lindbergh, Seattle resident and grandson of Charles Lindbergh whose famous plane was the “Spirit of St. Louis,” is joining representatives from both companies and Disney characters in Alaska Airlines’ Seattle hangar at 10 a.m. Monday for ribbon cutting ceremonies.

Lindbergh, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis, is sending off three families from the Arthritis Foundation Washington/Alaska Chapter on the plane’s first regularly scheduled flight. Three of these children on the flight have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and are spending the following day enjoying the magic of the Disneyland Resort.

“It’s been more than a quarter of a century since a face other than our trademark Eskimo has graced our aircraft,” said Bill Ayer, Alaska Airlines’ president and CEO, referring to the period when the images on Alaska’s aircraft not only included an Eskimo, but also a Sourdough, Russian spires and a Native totem. “And come to think of it, it’s the first time four faces have appeared on one of our aircraft at the same time.”

The exterior of the “Spirit of Disneyland” aircraft is painted bright blue with the characters’ images and the words “We’re going to Disneyland!” The interior of the plane has fun graphics and printed messages from Disney characters inside the overhead bins, and a commemorative plaque at the forward door. On the inaugural flight, the crew and guests will receive Mickey Mouse ears and a bag of Disney treats. This Disney-themed jet will fly throughout most of Alaska Airlines’ route system, including flights to and from Southern California airports.

“The Disneyland Resort and Alaska Airlines have enjoyed a successful partnership for many years and we’re delighted to see this continue in such an exciting way,” said Cynthia Harriss, president of the Disneyland Resort. “This is an amazing first for our company. We’re honored to work with Alaska Airlines on this flying ambassador of happiness.”

The launch kicks off a major marketing initiative featuring special vacation offers between Alaska Airlines and the Disneyland Resort. January begins with “Kids Fly Free” combined with five days of theme park fun for the price of three, and the fourth night free at a Disneyland Resort area hotel.

The nation’s ninth largest carrier, Alaska Airlines celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Alaska and its regional partner, Horizon Air, serve 83 cities in the Lower 48, Alaska, Canada and Mexico. For reservations, visit www.alaskaair.com or call Alaska’s toll-free reservations line at 1-800-ALASKAAIR (1-800-252-7522). For news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines Newsroom online at http://newsroom.alaskaair.com.

The Disneyland Resort features two theme parks—Disneyland park, “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and Disney’s California Adventure—park that captures the excitement of California through Disney storytelling—a place where Disney magic meets California fun. Downtown Disney District is a public esplanade of dining, family entertainment and shopping. Hotels include the luxurious Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel. For general information, call (714) 781-4565 or visit www.disneyland.com.

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(NOTE: For more information on the Arthritis Foundation or the families on the inaugural flight, contact Tess McShane at (206) 547-2707, Ext. 112.)