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Entries in Scale Models (20)


Walt Disney Family Museum: Disneyland Model [PART 1]

It's referred to as "The Disneyland of Walt's Imagination". It's the Walt Disney Family Museum's million-dollar masterpiece scale model representing many things built or conceptualized in Walt Disney's lifetime. And it's magnificent.

The 14-foot diameter hand-crafted model is among the most elaborate and detailed scale models in the theme park industry. On a recent visit to the WDFM in San Francisco, I spent hours looking at this and could hardly pull myself away.

It's a version of Disneyland that exists in no particular time period. To my knowledge, nothing here represents anything that originated after Walt Disney died in 1966. I guess if you were to assign a time period, it could be 1950s-1970s. 

Small and interesting details can be found throughout. Here, just beyond the castle gate, we see miniature figures of Walt and oldest daughter, Diane, entering Fantasyland.

Cute little ticket and souvenir booths everywhere.

Skull Rock! Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship!

The Fantasyland portion of the model gives us a good idea of what Fantasyland was before the big 1983 "New Fantasyland" makeover.

Mechanized larger-scale "it's a small world" figures rotate on the model. 

Look closely at the Skyway buckets entering the Matterhorn from Fantasyland and you'll notice they're the old Skyway vehicles (1956-1967). Now look at the Skyway buckets entering the Matterhorn from Tomorrowland and you'll see they're the upgraded 1967 vehicles. Nice touch.

It's Tomorrowland 1967 with some pre-1967 elements mixed in!

Some things removed prior to the 1967 "New Tomorrowland" seen here are the Moonliner (rocket), Monsanto House of the Future, and the World Clock.

And look at that. It's a representation of what eventually became Space Mountain. It's design was inspired by concept art like this and this. At one time the futuristic roller coaster concept was called Space Port and some concepts included ride track(s) on the exterior of the building as well as in the interior. 

Even though Walt died before the public opening of "New Tomorrowland" in 1967, he experienced some of the "new" attractions in one way or another. He, of course, rode Carousel of Progress at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

BONUS: Check out these mysterious details about an old Carousel of Progress RIDE concept.

He also rode a Disneyland PeopleMover on an off-site test track. 

Now these (very cool!) little Flying Saucers also predated all the Tomorrowland 1967 stuff. Their location was later occupied by the Space Mountain complex (1977), but don't they look nice next to each other?? If only.

Remember when there were TWO Autopias not that long ago? (Yeah, there were THREE at one time but that was long long ago). Until 1999, there was Tomorrowland Autopia and there was it's almost identical sister attraction, Fantasyland Autopia (previously called Junior Autopia). Tracks were later reworked and combined into the Autopia we have today. Fantasyland Autopia loaded near the Matterhorn, as we see here, and for a brief period of time it was transformed into the Rescue Rangers Raceway (yeah, I know) as part of the Disney Afternoon Avenue.

Oh, and look. Some Motor Boat Cruise motor boats or "The Autopia on Water", as some called it. Much of the Motor Boat Cruise dock is still there. Go visit it while you still can.


In Part 2, we'll explore the West side of the park.

Major kudos to the model makers and consultants like Tony Baxter. 


Related posts:

Disneyland 1955 Model Close-ups
Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade
Big Thunder Mountain Model
Buena Vista Street Model
Working Splash Mountain Model
"it's a small small world" [ PART 1 ]
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 3 ]



The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 3 ]

We bring you an update on Sam Towler's incredible Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland model.

"This is a stand-by basis project without a deadline, so it tends to hit the back-burner a lot due to other things with higher priorities. But whenever I can, I'll give an update when there is something worth talking about. All of my updates since day one are here, which include photos, videos, and plenty of rambling notes and descriptions." –Sam,

Isn't it wonderful??

For more info on Disneyland's extinct Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland, visit [PART 1].
For more additional photos of this scale model, visit [PART 2] or visit Sam's site


Related posts:

The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 1 ]
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 2 ]
Working Splash Mountain Model
Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade
Marc Davis and His Early Days at WED
Hop Aboard Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland
Big Thunder Mountain Model




"it's a small small world" [ PART 1 ]

Who loves theme park models?? We do! Join me as I build a scale model of a portion of Disneyland's beautiful "it's a small world" exterior. 

While I was building a tiny Jungle Cruise model, my wife suggested I model part of her favorite attraction, "it's a small world". I figured such a model would require many different fabrication processes... which would make for a good model-building tutorial... which is something I've wanted to do for a while... so here we are.

First, I decided to create a tiny passenger boat using a process I'd never tried before– 3D printing. I built a 3D model in Google Sketchup (free version!) then exported the file to Within seconds I had a price quote for each of the many materials offered by Shapeways (like plastic, steel, and even gold). I chose "White Strong & Flexible Plastic". This particular model at this size came in at just over $18.00.

After a few business days (which felt like FOREVER), the tiny boat arrived in the mail. Basing my color selection on an old photo of an actual "it's a small world" boat, I painted the 3D-printed boat with two shades of pink plus some black for the bumper. 

I found a pack of unpainted HO-scale figures by Model Power® at my local hobby store which I then painted with regular old craft paint.

They fit!

The layered cut-out look of Mary Blair's "it's a small world" facade called for some laser cutting. I drew each layer in Adobe Illustrator then separated the layers before sending them to be cut. I found a guy nearby with a laser cutter in his garage who offered to cut the designs into 1/16" clear acrylic for about $30.00.

Laser-cut pieces are cut with great precision and are well worth the cost. Cutting these by hand would have been a big old pain in the neck. No thank you.

A quick check to see if everything is here.

Now it's time to peel away the protective paper... But only the portions that need texture.

The protective paper serves perfectly as a mask, when cut accordingly.

You'll notice the real "it's a small world" facade is made up of both smooth flats and textured flats. About half of this piece of facade needed texture. A quick coat of textured spray paint did the trick.

Next, all protective paper needed to be removed.

I then made a simple oak box to contain the model.

The flume was a cinch to construct. I used Evergreen Scale Models® sheet styrene and styrene strips (modeling must-haves) and Plastruct® Plastic Weld solvent cement (my favorite solvent) to join the styrene pieces together.

According the Evergreen package, "Unlike wood or other materials, styrene parts are joined by bonding with a solvent. Parts are assembled by merely holding them in position and applying a small amount of solvent to the joint. Use a small brush and apply the cement very sparingly– only a little is required to make a joint. The cement will be drawn into the joint by capillary action, softening the mating surfaces so that a fast bond, as strong as the styrene, is formed."

It's recommended that this sort of styrene structure be air brushed or spray painted, but I brushed on craft paint with a normal 1/2" flat brush and it turned out just fine.

The same process of joining styrene together was applied to the clear acrylic pieces.

A block of green high-density floral foam is cut to form the hill between the flume and facade. More about this in Part 2.

A quick, temporary assembly of existing pieces brings the model to life. 

I then sprayed a coat of primer onto the acrylic.

Then two coats of white spray paint.

We're about halfway through the model-making process. You might be happy to know that this sort of thing requires less artistic ability than most people assume. It requires some know-how and a bit of practice, but really, most people can do what you see here.

Stay tuned for Part 2.


Related posts:

Tiny Jungle Cruise Model
Tiny Submarine Voyage + PeopleMover Model
EPCOT City Model [Part 1]
Working Splash Mountain Model
Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade
Mars and Beyond Robot
Swiss Family Treehouse Model