Off the Page
By: Sarah McClure
As a huge Disney Parks fan, I get butterflies and that giddy feeling all through the vacation planning process, but it definitely peaks after walking through the entrance to any of the Disney Parks. I have learned that surprises can be around any corner. I have also learned that more surprises come my way when I make an extra effort to engage with Disney Cast Members.
I love chatting with ride operators, restaurant servers and hotel staff. They all have different stories to tell about how they began their career with Disney, their favorite parts of their job, experiences with guests and fun hints and tidbits of information you may not know about.
My philosophy on how I spend time in the parks has changed over the years. Initially, our family was all about the rides and characters. How many autographs we can get in our book, how many rides did we go on, how many shows did we see? Not that we won’t make time to hit all of the attractions, even doing our favorites 4 or 5 times, but we also like to seek out the lesser known gems and soak up all the magic that Cast Members can offer.
On our last visit to California Adventure Park, we walked into a shop called Off the Page. Here you can
purchase Disney animation sketches and other merchandise. The store is decorated like an artist’s studio
with Disney drawings on the walls and ceiling. It’s really fantastic to be reminded that all of our favorite characters started on an artist’s blank paper and it’s the Imagineers that bring them to life on the screen.
In a corner of the shop you can sometimes catch an Imagineer at work. On this day, Imagineer Brian was
working on a Rapunzel and Flynn Rider sketch. My daughter was enthralled with his work and we began
asking him questions, simple at first, “How long have you been an artist? When did you start working for
Disney? Where did you go to school?”
Brian was so kind to spend time talking with her and out of the blue, he grabbed a blank piece of paper and gave my daughter an impromptu drawing lesson. He explained that all drawings are built on the basic 3D shapes, like a cone, sphere, cube and cylinder. Once you can draw those with tilts and turns, you can draw anything!
He showed her how Mickey Mouse’s head is built from spheres and he then drew Mickey looking in
several directions. This showed her to tilt and turn her drawings for different effects. He then went on to explain that Mickey’s legs and fingers come from the cylinder shape and all you have to do is move the
shape to give Mickey a new form.
My daughter has always enjoyed doodling, but Brian’s gift of a few minutes has sparked a new light in her. We go to the library and check out drawing books and she spends more time experimenting with the concepts he taught her. Every time she shows me her latest drawing, I am taken back to that magical moment in Off the Page!
I encourage you to seek out surprises on your next Disney vacation. Strike up a conversation with a Cast Member and experience the magic!
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