Disneyland played a central role in my father’s life. His father—my grandfather Hank Filtz—worked there for the bulk of his career (1955-1987), and Dan himself worked a few summers there growing up.
The two actually went to Disneyland on opening day—July 18, 1955. Here’s how Hank told it:
Disneyland opened to the public on July 18, 1955, and guess who was among the first few thousand people to go through the gate–my son Danny and I. I think that the admission was $1.00 per adult. Danny was only just over 4 years old and so went in free. Our first impression was one of awe, even though the remnants of the TV cable equipment was still everywhere and painters, construction workers, et cetera, were still putting the place together. Many of the rides, later to be known as attractions, were not open yet.
Here’s my father on that day: looking relatively relaxed for a four-year-old at Disneyland, amidst what was probably a lot of activity.
Later in life, Dan continued to go to Disneyland regularly. But rather than riding the rides, it was more likely that he’d be camped-out in an out-of-the-way place with his sketchpad, drawing or painting. The mages he captured—bits of architecture, people in motion, small details—make this bustling place feel downright calm, quiet; almost zen.
Here’s a handful of them, from 2000 to 2004.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
Main Street, USA: View from Market House
Water Bottle Lady
“A Popcorn Urge”
Art Corner, New Orleans Square
King Arthur Carrousel
“Lady & Matterhorn”
Tom Sawyer’s Island
“Snack Fire-Truck,” Main Street
Main Street Christmas Decorations
New Orleans Jazz Band
Train (California Adventure)
“Dinner and a Show”
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
“Mickey Mouse Shadow”
“I Count 12 Chairs”
Sleeping Beauty Castle and Tree
Elephant (California Adventure)
America Concert (California Adventure)
Big Thunder Mountain
California Zephyr (California Adventure)
Disneyland Railroad Water Tower
Bear Country Fishing
New Orleans Angel
Paradise Pier (California Adventure)