C is for Claude Coats {Blogging Through the Alphabet}

Week three of Blogging Through the Alphabet brings us to the letter C. I have to say there were a few choices I had in mind for this letter including Chicago for Walt’s birthplace. Of course, those of you who read my post from last week will know that B is for Walt’s Birthplace where I shared a bit about our visit to that special place.

So back to my notebook and some ideas for the letter C. Top of my list was Imagineer Claude Coats. I hadn’t known a lot about Mr. Coats before listening to a WDW Radio podcast with Lou Mongello where he spoke with artist and author Dave Bossert who is currently working on a book about Claude.

Of course, I had enjoyed his artistic work on some of my favorite movies and Disney Parks attractions without realizing who had designed them but I find as I get older I am interested in finding out more about these folks who worked with Walt to build his theme parks and share his genius with the world.

So here I am with C is for Claude Coats. There are so many things he had his hand in that I won’t be able to cover all of it here but I’ll do my best to give you some tidbits and a look into what this man accomplished during his tenure with Disney.

(April 11, 2013) Main Street Windows (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Getting Started

Claude began at the Walt Disney Company in 1935. At the beginning of his career there he made good use of his BA in Architecture and Fine Arts from USC with his work on the backgrounds and color stylings of movies that included: Snow White & The 7 Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Lady and the Tramp, Song of the South, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.

These are the movies of my childhood and of our daughters. Now are grandsons are enjoying them. These are classic and timeless and we have the artists to thank for a lot of it. Not only the artists who drew the character but also those who, like Claude, created the feeling of the film with their stylings and coloring.

A scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
You can almost feel yourself in their cottage

Joining WED

In 1955 Claude was selected (along with other elite artists) by Walt to help bring his dreams for Disneyland to life. He worked on the Rand Canyon and Primeval World dioramas on the railway, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Snow White’s Scary Adventure.

As one of the lead designers on the Haunted Mansion, Claude developed the Omnimover layout (now known as the Doombuggies). He was also honored with a headstone on the hill behind the mansion. Here’s a little YouTube video from Disney Park Blog:

Claude also worked on the Carousel of Progress and it’s a small world for the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

An Amazing Talent

“Claude paved the way in turning sketches and paintings into three-dimensional adventures. His energy, curiosity, and drive to create new experiences for our Disney park guests made him a leader and a teacher for all of us. He was a genuine one-of-a-kind.”

marty sklar
walt disney imagineering president & Disney legend

It takes a special kind of talent to achieve success. And a special kind of person. I have heard Mr. Coats referred to as a gentle giant, a truly good man. Listening to him speak during a 1986 interview as he gave credit to Wat and others for teaching him the Disney system of storyboarding and how he appreciated having these skills once he moved into WED and attraction design. He called it his second Disney career.

There is so much to discover about his work over his 54 years with the company. I know I am looking forward to learning more about this talented man and have pre-ordered a copy of the new book about him from author and artist Dave Bossert. I asked Dave to provide us with a bit of information about his latest project.

A Message from Dave Bossert – Author

Walt Disney’s Imagineer Claude Coats—The Making of Disneyland: From Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond is a comprehensive volume generously illustrated with rarely seen images from seminal theme park attractions, the 1964 World’s Fair, and Claude Coats’ personal work. It will include a thorough text chronicling attractions designed by this Disney Legend, who not only worked on building Disneyland, but helped to realize Walt’s dreams of a Magic Kingdom and EPCOT in Florida. Coats also helped spread the magic of Disney family entertainment worldwide to Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. Our initial campaign on IndieGoGo ran for 60-days and surpassed the goal, which allowed it to stay up as an In-Demand page. Our goal now is to get as many backers as possible to pre-order this new book. There are also additional opportunities to receive note cards showcasing Coats’ artwork as well as a small number of giclée prints that are available of his original paintings. Check it out here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/walt-disney-s-imagineer-claude-coats/x/22062661#/  You can also check out www.theoldmillpress.com for more books and additional notecards by legendary Disney artists, perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

More Blogging Through the Alphabet

So there is a bit about a very talented Disney Imagineer. I’m looking forward to learning even more (I’ll have to keep my eyes open during our next visit!)

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3 thoughts on “C is for Claude Coats {Blogging Through the Alphabet}”

  1. Tina says:

    I am learning so much from your posts. I had no clue who Claude Coats is until now. I look forward to more posts in this series.

  2. Kristen says:

    That is very interesting – I love how the older Disney movies create a 3D feel and invite you into the cartoon – they still seem really real even though they are animated.

  3. Lori says:

    An interesting man who seems to have instrumental. Very neat and the book sounds like it should be very interesting, too.

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