Saturday, April 28, 2007

Postcards, tiki bars and ghoul-meisters

When local history sage Don Dobmeier showed me this postcard (above) I immediately grokked it on two levels. First, it showed the Polynesian-themed Christian’s Hut in Newport Beach. And secondly, it was rendered in the classic “California watercolor” style that I love so much. But then I noticed a third cool thing about the card: The artist was Yale Gracey, the Disney animator and Imagineer who led the team to fill Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion with 999 ghosts. How cool is that?

Christian's Hut began on Catalina Island in 1935, as a temporary watering hole for the cast and crew of the film Mutiny on the Bounty. When the film was done, the bar was re-opened on the mainland, became popular with the Hollywood set, and eventually grew into a small chain. Their logo character was called the Goof, who can be seen on the roof in this image. A Goof statue can still be seen atop the Bali Hai restaurant (formerly a Christian’s Hut) on Shelter Island in San Diego. Sadly, Christian's Hut burned down in the 1960s.

As for Yale Gracey, I continue to be amazed at how well the Haunted Mansion holds up. For all the new technology, money and talent Disney has aquired in the past four decades, they have yet to build a more entertaining ride.

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