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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


« YEAR IN REVIEW– 2011 | Main | Mars and Beyond Robot »

Mural-Removin' Season at Disney

We bring you rare documentation of an old mural you might remember.

Recently my soul was hit with a sledge hammer when I read Kevin Kidney's post about a different mural literally being hit with a sledge hammer. Then I was informed by Michael Crawford that another equally obscure mural had the same fate. It's times like these I'm glad I documented the Bill Justice character mural in the old Walt Disney Story Theater.

Above for the first time online (we think) you can see the entire mural panned out this way. Forgive the distortions here and there. I photographed it in sections years ago with a digital camera that was sub-par. Nevertheless I'm happy I did it. Click image to enlarge or click here for extra larger version (6.6meg).

Bill Justice seen here working on other projects.

The mural was placed in the holding area of the Walt Disney Story attraction (1973-1992) in the Gulf Hospitality House on Main Street.

Guests would approach the mural on the curved wall, hear a cast member speil a few words, then proceed to one of two theaters. Doors would open on either the left or ride side of the mural depending on which theater was available at the moment. For a detailed history of this experience I refer you the great Widen Your World site.

Here you can see the doors to Theater 2 to the right of the mural.

Here you see where the doors to Theater 1 were removed when that theater was drastically changed to accommodate plywood photo ops (not pictured). Just behind those (temporary) curtains there used to be a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride car. Even better than the plywood in my opinion.

"But you hate when characters are mixed together" you say? Yes, normally I do. But I only really hate it when characters from different time periods/locations interact with each other. Like in the hideous Villains Tonight show on the Disney Cruise. A less-offensive-to-my-intelligence way of mixing characters is Mickey's PhilharMagic. Those characters do not interact with characters from films (Donald being the exception). The same is the case with this mural. The characters only look at the other characters from their own film (with a couple exceptions, like a Dalmatian puppy barking at the antics of The Three Caballeros).

Sleeping beauty was represented with a whopping 19 characters.

And Robin Hood with 14, including one of my favorites, Alan-a-Dale.

I know many fans of less-represented movies who loved the mural wide-spread representation of many films.

Black Cauldron fanatics (all thirty five of you), I'm sorry your only Black Cauldron reference is now gone.

I'm glad Elliott made it onto the mural. But I have a question... Isn't Pete's Dragon a live-action film with some animation mixed in? But so is Mary Poppins. And others. Song of the South made the cut. That makes sense because it's more of an animated film with live-action mixed in. Elliott was added years after the original mural was painted. I'm sure it was done to promote the latest film. And the film did have an animated title character. It makes sense.

The Three Little Pigs wasn't a full-length feature but they fit in nicely.

Charcters from new releases were added up until The Great Mouse Detective (1986).

When was this quote added? After the microphone and control box were no longer needed?

Added bonus.

Here are two control boxes from Theater 2. I love discovering remnants of things that no longer exist. Things like labels for "PRE SHOW PODIUM" or "PROJ ROOM" or "TURNSTILE". Even better, "MAPO", a label we don't see much anymore.

Theater 2 awaiting its fate.

Instead of posting my thoughts about what currently occupies this great Magic Kingdom building, I refer you Mr. Crawford's post about the Town Square Theater. I share his thoughts. And when you visit the Town Square Theater in person look closely for this little nod to the mural. Thanks @Crushinat0r for sending us the photo.

As it turns out, this particular mural has escaped the ill fate that other murals have not. The Disney Archives has kept the actual painting for preservation. And maybe to post it somewhere else??


We are getting messages that the mural was NOT saved. Reports claim that the fine people of the Archives attempted to save it but the 40 year old paint crumbled as the canvas was removed from the wall. Let us know if you have further details.



Thanks to a comment from "Wedway" we share this little tribute to the Plaza Pavilion mural that Kevin Kidney wrote about. This artwork can be found in what was the Plaza Pavilion, now called the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. It resembles the former mural but features song lyrics and imagery from Mary Poppins. Thank you Wedway, Kevin, and The Disney Food Blog.


To anyone who worked on the refurb who might have found my Mike Fink Keel Boats sign... GIVE IT BACK. It was given to me a few years back, then I hid it in the theater for a moment, and I never saw again. Another soul-crusher.


Related posts:

Illustrated Donald Duck
Magic Kingdom Map Found in a Main Street Wall
What Disney Characters Love
Disney Characters...Maybe We Should Rethink a Few Things
Walt Disney and the Santa Maria Railroad
HORIZONS MURAL, "The Prologue and the Promise"
ABANDONED DISNEY: MK Fantasyland Skyway Tower


Reader Comments (21)

I remember this mural. I always admired the composition and the fantastic line work. It must have been terribly difficult to lay out. And to think, all the character poses are unique, none of them copied from their common marketing material standard poses. Very nice.

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHanson

I always loved seeing the Walt Disney Story so I could stare at this mural while we waited to get into the theatre. Seeing all these wonderful images is so bittersweet, sigh. Thanks for a great post!

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdichuy

when were these pics taken?

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTTraymore

I believe they were taken in early 2007. After the area was closed to guests.

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFritz

If its any new info i remember seeing the mural intact in 2009 briefly and it was in the same condition as in these pics. Had i known about the town square theatre I would have taken pics before its now speculated demise

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTommyHagen

is the second theater still there

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterradler

I found one of the projectors from the WDS in the utilidors a few months back. It looked so proud with all of its mickey globe logos placed on various parts and places.

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdisneyanaworld

Hi guys, I read Kevin Kidney's article about the mural at Plaza Pavilion and its tragic fate. Well as you probably know, they just opened the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in the Plaza Pavilion's former location. I was looking on the Disney Food Blog at pictures of the new eatery and I found this picture of one of the wall paintings:

Looks like the Imagineers snuck in this little tribute to the original Plaza Pavilion mural! The funny thing was that the author of the picture didn't seem to have any idea as to the painting's origins. As much of a tragedy as it was the fate of the original mural, I was enthralled to see that the mural hasn't been forgotten and will continue to exist in some shape or form.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwedway

Here are 2 photos I took of the mural in Aug of 08
It was very sad just to see it sitting there, but I did visit one last time in Dec 09 and took a good look at it before it was gone forever.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeremiah Good

I found a mug with a portion of the mural at a thrift store a few years back, needless to say I purchased it. The mural was a favorite of mine.

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancie

Nancie- Got a photo of the mug??

February 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterMitch

I remember seeing this mural at the Disney Story Theater pre-show at Walt Disney World in the mid 90s. Sadly it had been covered by a curtain attached to a frame which was attached to the wall using bolts that went right through the mural. Not sure what's happened to it since.

I also stumbled upon a large setting for part of Walt's old 1/8 scale Carolwood Pacific Train in the same area. The train wasn't there but there was track going into a tunnel with railroad decor all around. This too had been covered, by a wall this time. We found a small access panel and wandered in.

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShannonL

Grandpa lived in Winter Park, half an hour from Disney, so my brother and I were there when I was 2, 4, 7, 11, and 14. (Translation: 1986, 1988, 1991, 1995, and 1998.) The second I saw the top picture I went, "Wait - I know that." I then recalled a distinctly childlike thought of, "They're coming with me" - which makes sense now that I know where it was. It's exciting to see something that I didn't even remember on its own but must have thrilled me ("Of course they're coming to watch the show with me!"); it's sad to know it's now gone.

February 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJo

Even though I have never been there in my life, in my opinion I think Disney should've updated the mural until 1989/1990 to include characters from ''Who Framed Roger Rabbit'', ''Oliver & Company'', and ''The Little Mermaid''.

March 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Disney artist Russell Schroeder is the one who updated Bill Justice's artwork for the mural.

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFrançois

My dad and I had our photo taken in front of that mural in 1979 and then again in 2000. That year for Father's Day I printed out both photos, matted and framed them together for a "now and then" piece to hang on his wall. That was one of the other times I ever saw my dad cry. Several times after that we returned to look for the mural (mom and dad moved to FL in 2007 and dad got a job at WDW) we were told it was taken down and archived when they built that building was retrofitted to add Mickey Mouse's M&G.

June 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

The "Black Cauldron" characters on the mural are actually not from that movie, they are from The Sword in the Stone, 1963.

November 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerb

Actually, Derb, the "The Sword in the Stone" characters Taran, Eilonwy, Gurgi, and the pig (I forgot her name) are from The Black Cauldron (1985).

February 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGreg


May 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly Belanger

To follow up on the mural. My husband and I both worked for Disney World starting in 1974. Disney started with slides in 75. I was invited for one of the five photos on main street. A year later available to the public a year later. I am very pleased to be part of the archives. My positions at Disney were an experience and enjoyable. Enjoy Keeping up with the company thru the web. My best to all Beverly York Belanger

June 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly Belanger

The artwork on this mural is featured in the book "Walt disney's treasury of children's classics" on the copyright/dedication page. But in the middle,instead of the updates shown on here, Scrooge, Daisy, Huey, Duey, and Luey are holding a gold frame. I don't remember the mural, but I recognized the art from my book. I always enjoyed seeing all the characters at the same time. Especially the less popular ones.

August 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRose

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