This next installment will be focusing on the French Village, the very same village that we at the Carolwood Foundation are seeking funding to restore and display. The following images may be painful to see, but it illustrates how these buildings were removed from the banks of Storybook Land in 1981 and eventually ending up in our hands.

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The original French Village, one final picture before they’re pried from their foundations.

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With the structures removed, a gaping hole into the deep underground realm of Storybook Land is revealed. What’s down there you ask?

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The most spiderwebs Jerry Parker had ever seen! This is the support structure for the rock wall that surrounds the French Village. I bet you never knew it was hollow!

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The exact buildings that we are trying to restore, laying next to the Casey Jr. track before being transported back to the Staff Shop.

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Looking at these same buildings now and how they were removed, its clear why and when they were separated into four pieces.

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Only the Stair Tower remains after the entire French Village has been razed and a new foundation poured over the hole left behind.

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Some parts of the lower French Village didn’t survive their removal, making the surviving village we’re restoring that much more priceless.

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More casualties of the removal. Among the rubble, you can spot the Stair Tower which was eventually salvaged in pieces and now on display in Walt’s Barn.

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The French Village, as it exists now. The only piece of the original Storybook Land that exists today. Its pretty amazing that its lasted all these years. However, without restoration soon, it too will end up falling apart like the rest of the original houses of Storybook Land.

If you’ve enjoyed these amazing behind the scenes images of Storybook Land’s history, then I encourage you to help our efforts to preserve an actual piece of Storybook Land’s history.  Your donation to our Indiegogo campaign will help us restore and display an entire original village that has survived from its removal in 1981 at Walt’s barn.  Please don’t let these priceless artifacts of Disneyland history go to waste.  We can only do this with your help.

Donate here

 

The forth installment of Gerald Parker’s Storybook Land rebuild process is the largest one yet, focusing on one of the largest structures in the attraction – second only to Cinderella’s Castle.  And that is the Tremaine house which sits at the base of the castle and features the tall tower where Cinderella was locked away from going to the ball.

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How the Chateau looks today – version 2.0

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When the Chateau first arrived in the Staff Shop backstage after being crow-barred out of Storybook Land it was in pretty bad shape.

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One whole side of the house had collapsed and was delivered in pieces to the shop.

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Jerry Parker attempts to reassemble the chunks of Tremaine house so that accurate measurements could be made.

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No Prince Charming will be walking up these steps with a glass slipper any time soon.

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Even the windows had been completely covered up by years of repainting and quick fixes.

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Jerry with the framed out replacement constructed out of redwood sitting in front of the original house.

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Now clad in grey fiberglass board and the interior lighten installed.

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In order to create the stonework around the tower, a paper template is first wrapped around the surface.

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The template is then removed, giving them a guide for the stonework.

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The template can then be used as a cookie cutter on a sheet of resin cast stonework that will be pulled from the blue silicone mold.

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Side by side comparison of the two Tremaine houses.

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All the detail work that had to be remade for just the Tremaine house sits infront of Jerry.

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A single window with copper leading soldered over top held up by Will Graham.

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All the detail now applied to the exterior, with the copper widow’s walk and finials now being added.

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Graham and Parker adding in more details to the roof lines.

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Another miraculous save by Will Graham and Gerald Parker!

 

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Jerry adds the new front steps to the Chateau. Now Prince Charming will have no trouble at all navigating those steps!

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Now fully painted and ready to be installed, Jerry says goodbye to the Tremaine house.

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A rare downward shot of the chateau showing of just how truly enormous this building is!

If you’ve enjoyed these amazing behind the scenes images of Storybook Land’s history, then I encourage you to help our efforts to preserve an actual piece of Storybook Land’s history.  Your donation to our Indiegogo campaign will help us restore and display an entire original village that has survived from its removal in 1981 at Walt’s barn.  Please don’t let these priceless artifacts of Disneyland history go to waste.  We can only do this with your help.

Donate here

 

The Gerald Parker images continue this week with a incredible shot of Jerry standing next to his reconstructed Cinderella’s Castle.
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Compare this image with the final installed version of Jerry’s castle below and you’ll see just how large this “miniature” actually is! The story goes that after the original castle was built at WED in Glendale, in order to transport it down the freeway to Anaheim it had to be placed on its side to fit underneath the overpasses!  Luckily, the Staff Shop where Jerry built the replacement castle was located backstage, just a hop and a skip away behind Critter Country.
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Continuing with the Gerald Parker series documenting the reconstruction of Storybook Land, this installment will focus on one of the most iconic structures of the entire attraction – Toad Hall.  Originally sitting where Agrabah now resides, Toad Hall was such an enchanting design that when the new Fantasyland facades were being designed for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, the Storybook Land miniature was used as a template for the full-size ride building.

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The original Toad Hall – Jerry remembered fondly just how many chimneys he had to rebuild on the new Toad Hall.

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Jerry’s handwritten measurements taken out on Storybook Land before the old building was torn out. Yes, Toad Hall really is 6 feet wide!

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A rare look inside the interior of Toad Hall. Looking directly at the front door and large leaded glass window, the 12V Transformers for the lighting system can be seen in the lower right.

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The new interior lighting system inside Toad Hall. Note the mirror on the right side of the image. Jerry figured out how to bounce the light around inside the building using mirrors so that every window would be lit up with the soft warm light.

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Jerry’s new Toad Hall, complete with its seven chimneys, now sits in its new location on the other side of the canal.

 
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Gerald “Jerry” Parker of the Disneyland Staff Shop surrounded by his rebuilt Storybook Land miniatures.

Just one month after installing the Stair Tower display in Walt’s Barn, Gerald Parker, retired 13 year veteran of the backstage Staff Shop who was taking his first trip to the barn stumbled upon the new display. It was something he thought he’d never see again.  In 1981, Jerry was responsible recreating all of the Storybook Land miniatures which had nearly been destroyed by the elements and years of cosmetic fixes.  So when you visit Storybook Land now, every building you see from Toad Hall to Cinderella’s Castle and even the French Village, are all new models crafted by the Jerry and fellow carpenters Will Graham and Frank Babish.  Jerry had no idea that we were mounting an effort to preserve the original French Village, and was very surprised that they even still existed!  However, what blew us all away about this series of fortunate events was that Jerry owned volumes of photographs that he took to document the removal, recreation, and replacement of Storybook Land that took place from 1981-1983!

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Rob Fendler and Gerald Parker with the original Stair Tower display in Walt’s Barn.

At last month’s barn day, Jerry and his wife sat with me inside the Disneyland Railroad Combine car where I had set up my scanner.  Together we poured through his photo albums that recounted his time at Disneyland.  You couldn’t ask for a more patient and generous couple as the two of them sat with me as I documented Jerry’s personal story and the story behind each photo.  They were surprised that I was so interested in his work and at the same time so happy to have been able to help me out with the restoration.  Page after page of photos of the French Village floored me so many times that I think my jaw is still rolling around under the naugahyde seats of the Combine.  Before now, all I had were a few images of the original village taken from the vantage points allowed from both Casey Jr. and the Canal Boats.  But now, sitting in front of me were close-ups of the original village from every angle, heart-stopping images of the tear-out process, Polaroids noted with measurements,  and snapshots of the old village sitting next to the new one.  The missing link in Storybook Land’s history had been found.

 

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The amount of detailed woodwork throughout the Disneyland requires a full time staff responsible for repairing and replacing those details so that the average park guest will never know that they’ve been replaced.  These replacement parts are carefully handcrafted in the Mill Annex, a backstage woodshop behind Critter Country that could provide on-the-spot replacement parts for whatever arrives in the shop in pieces.  In 1979, Jerry landed a job in Disneyland’s Staff Shop because of his previous work for the Hollywood Wax Museum, and his experience with fiberglass and mold making.  After proving himself to Staff Shop Supervisor, Don Crosby, Jerry was asked to take on a daunting task – rebuild all of Storybook Land.  He told his superior, “This is beyond my abilities, but I will do my best.  However, I’ll only do it on one condition: if this doesn’t work out, I get to go back to my work in the Staff Shop and I won’t hear another word of it.”  His supervisor  agreed and Jerry was presented with a crumbling Geppetto’s workshop.  Jerry began creating a new miniature building from redwood and wrapping it in fiberglass board, improving on the original’s construction materials of marine plywood that had disintegrated over the years.  Although unsure he could achieve the level of craftsmanship of Wathel Rogers, Fred Jeorger, and Harriet Burns, Jerry pressed on.  His finished Geppetto’s workshop was a success and it fit perfectly back into Pinocchio’s village.  One building down, many more to go.

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The new building being constructed out of rot-resistant redwood next to the original Geppetto’s that been pulled out of the attraction.

 

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The exterior walls now clad in fiberglass board, the small details are added back in along with a newly cast fiberglass roof.

 

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The finished replacement getting final paint before being installed back into Storybook Land.

 

 

This is the first installment of many that will be exploring this rare behind the scenes look at the history of Storybook Land.  During these last few weeks of the Indiegogo Fundraiser to preserve a piece of the original Storybook Land, new installments of Jerry’s photos will be posted leading up to the Dec. 10th close of the fundraiser.  Check back soon; and if you can, please help us preserve a piece of Storybook Land history through our Indiegogo fundraiser.

 

If you visit Walt’s Barn this weekend you’ll discover a new exhibit has been added among the displays of railroad items surrounding Walt’s love of trains.  The “Stair Tower” from the Storybook Land village has been put on display in its current unrestored state.  Because of its fragile condition and intricate detail, the miniature had to be placed behind glass.  It is however, well lit from the inside and out so visitors can truly appreciate these details up close.

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You can also walk around the back of the display to peer through the missing section of roof tiles to see the interior as well as the original light bulb used to bring these miniatures to life. Its not every day you get to see inside the houses of Storybook Land, so be sure stop by Walt’s Barn, open every third Sunday of the month, to see behind the magic!

 

We’re happy to announce the Indiegogo campaign is live!
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Head over our campaign page to check out the donation rewards we’re offering including actual pieces from the Storybook Land village. We only have 10 pieces available as rewards, so if you’d like to have an actual piece of the original attraction that was hand crafted by Fred Jeorger, Harriet Burns, and Wathel Rogers among others, then you won’t want to miss out on this rare opportunity. We also have exclusive pins, t-shirts, and posters available too.

We’re hoping that, as a Disney fan and someone that may have a personal connection to Storybook Land and an appreciation of Walt Disney and Disneyland’s history, that we can welcome you to support an important cause like this one.

 

The smallest of the Storybook Land village that I’ve named “Stair Tower” (because its a tower and its next to…well, stairs) is entering into the preservation stage of restoration.  This entails reassembling whats left of the structure, and bringing it back to its original shape without adding anything new, other than wood glue and replacing any rusted out nails.  Since the Stair Tower was never included in the original design for the exhibit (I didn’t realize we had it!), I’m considering leaving it simply in this “preserved” state and displaying it separately as an example of the state the village was in when it was donated and a clear example of why further restoration was needed.  Below, you’ll see the first steps taken in this preservation.

Towerfix01The years of  damage and fungal rotting have begun to eat away that the details.

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Wood glue is injected into the joints and behind some of the detail wood work that is pulling away from the expanding plywood.  Epoxy injection will take place at a later date to those spots that are really bad.  I may, however, skip the epoxy step to keep it as “original” as possible for this piece.

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All glued and clamped up to set!  One can never have too many clamps…

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Clamps, clamps, and more clamps.  Its starting to look like a complete building again.

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Here’s what the finished building will look like.  When I snapped this shot, the walls and roof were simply loosely connected with its existing rusty nails.  One huff and puff and it would have fallen apart.  Once the preservation is complete it will be able to be displayed; however, since its still very delicate it will have to remain behind glass.

 

 

Yesterday, prior to the barn opening up to the public I took the opportunity to move the first of large sections of the village from storage at the barn to my workshop to begin cleaning them up and assessing the full extent of the repairs needed.

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With the help of the other barn volunteers we got it secured and loaded up.

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The other sections were lightly wrapped as well to protect them while they are waiting to be transported at a later time.

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Safe and secure back at the shop.

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Closer inspection reveals what I was fearing.  Termites!  There have been black piles of termite droppings under this section, but seeing the damage confirms it.

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The first day of moving ended with a mini-termite tent over the village and a bug bomb to hopefully take care of these unwanted Storybook Land tenants.

 

 

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We’re pleased to announce an upcoming opportunity for those that would like to support the restoration of the Storybook Land village. As a thank you for your charitable donation, we’re offering several unique and extremely rare items as rewards. Along with the previously announced Richard Terpstra t-shirts, we’ll also be offering “Small Worlds of Walt” donor pins not available anywhere else.

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We’re also pleased to announce the reward at the premium donation level, an actual piece of the original Imagineer-crafted 1956 Storybook Land village. We can only offer 10 of these pieces, so we wanted to get the word out ahead of time so everyone can have a chance to own a piece of Disneyland’s history. Each piece will be mounted in their own individually numbered shadow box and accompanied with a signed certificate of authenticity. Actual artifacts from Storybook Land are rarely available to collectors, so if you’re interested in owning one of these ten pieces, mark your calendars for Friday, October 11th when the Indiegogo donation page goes live.