The Buena Vista Street Christmas Tree

Welcome to my inaugural post on my new website. Thanks for stopping by as I dive in deeper into some of my past projects. This blog is where I plan on looking back at what paved the way for my career and most importantly give thanks to the people who helped mentor me along the way.

Concept Art created to show how the Christmas tree would look in front of Carthay.

Starting it off by featuring a project I did back when I was with Disney Creative Entertainment. In 2011 I partnered with David Caranci from Resort Enhancement on getting the new additions for California Adventure ready for their new Christmas seasons. What was the most exciting was helping design the new main Christmas tree for the theme park. 

In typical Disney forced perspective goodness, we had 4 sizes of bells, larger at the bottom up to smallest at the top, making the tree appear taller than it really was.​

The lights from the 1930s that inspired the bell ornaments on the DCA Christmas tree

Over the years, the Park never had a real consistent location for their Christmas tree. A stark difference from across the esplanade where Disneyland has had their tree prominently displayed for more than half a century. 

What was interesting here was the surrounding buildings for our new tree weren’t built yet, so I created some concept art to help capture the feel of the new area for the holiday season. This was used for the fabrication of the tree as well as marketing to get guests excited about what was coming to DCA for Christmas.

Buena Vista Street was themed to Los Angeles in the 1930s. Which was a beautiful thematic story flow from the entrance to Disneyland just steps away. Walt’s childhood in Missouri for Main Street USA then later when he arrived in Hollywood for Buena Vista Street. This new hub for the Park would feature the ideal planter for a large Christmas tree centerpiece. 

The question we had was how to make this tree stand out on it’s own apart from Disneyland’s tree. We researched what a typical tree looked like in the 1930s and noticed the types of trees and branches that were used and how they were decorated and trimmed. Taking it a step further we discovered that Walt actually licensed a set of Mickey Mouse ornaments in the 1930’s. 

They were a set of illuminated colored bells, with hand drawn images of Mickey and his friends. Based off that original art, I hand drew each bell’s design and characters. Each drawing was then applied to the light up bells.

California Adventure's Christmas Tree sits in front of Carthay Circle Theatre

In typical Disney forced perspective goodness, we had 4 sizes of bells, larger at the bottom up to smallest at the top, making the tree appear taller than it really was. The end result was something that makes me proud to see every single year. 

The light up bells are a detail that most might not even notice, let alone know that they were based off an actual product that existed back then. But even if just one person from that generation has somehow remembered them as a kid I think I’ve done my duty.

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