Disneyland Park turns 54 today. Disney Legend Marty Sklar is retiring from his position as Executive Vice President and Imagineering Ambassador at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. What better time for him to get the special Disney honor of his own window on Main Street, U.S.A. at the Disneyland Resort? My report, complete with photos, is after the jump.
In July 1955, as student editor of UCLA’s Daily Bruin, Sklar was recruited to create a tabloid 1890-themed newspaper, The Disneyland News, which sold on Main Street during the Park’s debut year. After completing his education, Marty returned to Disneyland publicity and marketing, establishing Vacationland magazine.
He went on to become one of the biggest shapers of the Disney image, especially when it comes to Disney’s theme parks and resorts. For 10 years, Sklar wrote personal materials for Walt Disney including a 20-minute film that established the creative intent for Walt Disney World Resort, including EPCOT. He had been recruited by Walt to go to WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) from the Disneyland publicity team, to work on the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
By 1974, he was responsible for the creative development of Disney parks and attractions, and would have this leadership role for 30 years. then, he took on the newly created ambassador role. At the time of his retirement, Sklar was the only current Cast Member of The Walt Disney Company who had participated in the opening of all eleven Disney Parks around the world.
It was twenty years ago today that I first met Marty, at the grand opening of the original Splash Mountain. I was so excited to get to meet the President of Walt Disney Imagineering – which was his title at that time. That was one of the highlights of that day for me – heck one of the highlights of the year.
Marty had been responsible for other people getting their windows on Main Street. His was placed where he once had an office – upstairs at City Hall.
The man of the hour was brought out on the mobile Main Street fire engine by the Fab Five. Then Disneyland Resort Presisdent Ed Grier spoke about Marty before being interrupted by a “guided tour group”.
Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, spoke about Marty, and then it was turn for former Disneyland President Jack Linquist to share some hilarious stories about working with Marty in the old days. I hadn’t seen Jack in person since he retired in the mid 1990s as Paul Pressler took his place.
Then, it was time to reveal the window. The Fab Five did the honors. Goofy decided to stand behind a tree, so he’s not in the shot.
Here’s a better look and what the window looks like up close…
Then it was time for Marty to speak.
He garnered a standing ovation. And a repeat visit from the “guided tour group”. Then, “members of the audience” started to stand up and sing “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, joined in by the tour group, the Fab Five, and the Disneyland cast member choir, and probably plenty of people in the audience as well! They were aided, as was the whole event, by the firemen musical band.
In addition to the speakers, plenty of notables from Walt Disney Parks & Resorts history (and present) were there, including Alice Davis, Tom Fitzgerald, Tim Delaney, Tony Baxter, Barry Braverman, longtime Disney Archivist Dave Smith, Buzz Price, Bob Gurr, Eddie Sotto… and plenty of people I’ve missed, I’m sure.
No Disneyland event like this would be complete without confetti and a release of doves, and they had those, too. Alas, the doves were a little too quick for my camera finger.
Congratulations to Marty Sklar!