In the photo of my 1955 office wall, not only is there a watercolor rendering of my version of the GM concept Scenicruiser, but there’s also two other bus sketches. One of them has two rear axles, the other a single rear axle. So what’s the story? Why are these buses there?
As Walt Disney was envisioning the Autopia attraction, he was aware that very small children wouldn’t be able to drive the little cars. So, he asked me to modify two of the ride cars to look like sheriff’s cars, complete with red lights, a siren, and painted black and white. Then ride operators could still thrill the tiny children by giving them a ride around the track.
Walt had another idea to increase ride capacity by giving several children at a time a ride in… a miniature Greyhound bus. So I started a design layout for the bus, going so far as figuring out a rear engine and drive train arrangement that would still have room for enough seats to make it practical. But, instead of a greyhound dog logo on the bus sides, my drawing showed, what else? A dachshund!
It soon became apparent that the bus idea was not practical, but the cute little bus drawings lived on and were last seen decades ago in some old wooden drafting cabinet drawers.
The documentary, Bob Gurr: Turning Dreams into Reality, tells the story of one of Walt Disney‘s earliest 1954 Imagineering Legends, Bob Gurr. His career, spanning 45 years creating 250 projects with Disney and beyond, will be explored.
From Disneyland to Las Vegas, Olympic spectaculars to rock star shows, Bob’s creations included Monorails, Abraham Lincoln mechanical animation, Pirate Battle Shows, even massive animated figures of King Kong and Godzilla.
Viewers will learn much about how these attractions were created from those who were there sharing these creations. Eight theme park creators who worked with Bob over these years will describe the unique ways in which he created a vast variety of attractions. The cast includes Disney Ambassador to the World Marty Sklar, Imagineering VP Craig Russell, Imagineer Chris Crump, and many others.
Bob Gurr: Turning Dreams into Reality is directed and produced by Carlene Thie, President of Ape Pen Publishing.
The documentary stars: Glenn Austin, Christopher Crump, Joel Friche, Bob Gurr,
Bruce Hayes, Garner Holt, Monty Lundy, & Marty Sklar. Run time: 52 minutes.
For more information: http://www.apependisneyproducts.com/#!disney-media-dvds-disneyland/con8
The Making of Turning Dreams into Reality
Carlene Thie, Ape Pen Publishing, over many years has produced and sold numerous DVDs and graphic materials featuring Legendary Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr. Early in 2014, Carlene began the multi-year Dreams project based on the never ending requests for more stories of Bob’s creations over his 45 year career, some 250 projects for a wide variety clients from Disney and beyond – Universal Studios Tour, Michael Jackson, Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn to name a few.
In addition to the Ape Pen Publishing materials, Bob has made over 500 public appearances, podcasts, video interviews, and live radio talks during the past 35 years. The subjects have always been to answer questions about the creation of these projects, the clients, the teams, and the behind-the-scenes details.
But still the Disney and theme park entertainment fans want to know more. Not just what the project was, but the how of Bob’s working methods. Since Bob never had any engineering training, he was an Art Center car stylist at age twenty, just how did he accomplish these one-of-a-kind projects? These fan questions about the how never cease.
Thus Carlene’s quest was to explore beyond the what to discover and tell the hidden story of the how. The result is her latest DVD, Bob Gurr: Turning Dreams into Reality.
Asking Bob how he did this work was futile. Many people who have achieved significant accomplishments are puzzled when asked these kinds of questions. To them, what they did was their ordinary work, but a mystery to to others. Bob told Carlene – “Go ask the witness’s what they saw”.
Eight “witness’s” promptly assembled over a weekend in the summer of 2014 where a team of camera and audio technicians led by a director captured many hours of “testimony” as to what makes Bob “tick”. At last she had enough evidence to commence a story to answer all the how questions.
Glenn Austin, Christopher Crump, Joel Friche, Bob Gurr, Bruce Hayes, Garner Holt, Monty Lundy, & Marty Sklar all got in their thoughts, and a few digs too. luckily, Carlene and Bob had a lot of suitable photographs that could be used in the documentary. Walt Disney Imagineering also furnished a number of specially licensed company owned photographs.
Bob’s Emmy winning professional TV recording engineer nephew Eric Johnston lived near Carlene in Riverside California and volunteered his audio editing services. Eric also arranged for additional location shoots as well as other editing services, equipment, and technical assistance.
2015 saw the long process of documentary production – story writing, further editing, both audio mixing and video media, graphic material permissions, and of course obtaining a copyright license from The Walt Disney Company. The documentary is not connected with or a production of TWDC.
The documentary Turning Dreams into Reality will have a sneak premiere at an advance signing sale July 9th at the Pacific Northwest MouseMeet in Lynnwood, Washington. An official World Premiere will take place on July 15th in Garden Grove, California during the DisneyanaMania 2016. A making-of panel discussion will be featured attended by several documentary stars.
For more information http://www.DisneyanaFanClub.org
Advance internet sales are now available at http://www.apependisneyproducts.com/#!disney-media-dvds-disneyland/con8
While attending Art Center School in Los Angeles from 1949 to 1952, among the various courses required, was an illustration class using many techniques and subjects. Whenever students were given free choice of subject (flowers, mountains, etc.) I chose vehicles. When the assignment was for a outdoor watercolor scene, I selected the, then-concept study, GM Scenicruiser, since I thought it was so cool. (My sister has that painting today in her ‘Bob Gurr Gallery’ in Texas.)
After graduation in 1952, I joined Ford Styling. I went to a car show in Walled Lake, Michigan where a new Scenicruiser was on display – I was entranced by it! Later in 2001 I toured some of the western States with a mountain biking group though AdventureBus which used… an old Scenicruiser rigged up as a hippie camper. We’d ride during the day, then sleep in it while driving to the next trail site. The poor thing had been modified with a tiny Detroit Diesel 8V-74, replacing the original monster W-style diesel engine. It would be flat out in second gear at 20 mph climbing any grade. But, it was a classic Scenicruiser… and I finally got my ride in one.
As a life long car nut and credentialed car tester at the annual Los Angeles Auto Show for many years, I get to drive every alternate-fuel car available on the show’s Green Drive Day. Advanced diesel, hydrogen fuel cell, and virtually every electric car available the past 18 years. My favorite is any Tesla – the Roadster, Model S, and now a big SUV, the Model X.
Thru the kindness of the Jason Knapp family, who are loyal Bob Gurr fans, I recently had one of these wondrous concoctions in my driveway. Jason had shared their Model S in 2012 and now had the big travel wonder for me to try out. Nothing on the planet is anywhere like this “On to the Future” machine. The falcon wing door X followed the previous month’s visit from Dave Tavres’ gull wing-door ’82 “Back to The Future” DeLorean. So it’s bird-wing car 2016 for sure.
Rather than listen to me gush over the big X, please go to this Autoblog link for a very interesting evaluation – www.autoblog.com/2016/03/11/tesla-model-x-p90d-first-drive/
A caveat; as most readers know, my historic design philosophy has been to keep stuff simple, even if it was the very first creation of it’s kind. The future is never free or easy. Stuff that sounds terrific as an idea can suffer the growing pains of eventual perfection. This stunning device is a huge leap into “automotive tomorrow” which will need to endure the course of all pioneers. I know the drill…Walt Disney wanted the first American Monorail and gave me less than nine months to do it. I spent a decade getting it right. I suspect the Model X will experience a dose of the same.
On Saturday, February 6th, 2016, Bob visited a couple of old friends at the Los Angeles County Fire Museum in Bellflower, CA. Those old friend were actually two fire engines from Ward Kimball’s private collection, which are now on display at the Museum.
Bob happily retold the story of the time he drove Ward’s 1916 American LaFrance fire truck in a parade in Temple City, CA. The engine was originally in service to the Venice Fire Department, in Venice, California until the Los Angeles Fire Department took over the Venice Fire Department. It then became LA Fire Department Engine #63, until it was retired and Ward Kimball bought it for his Grizzly Flats Railroad. Ward also used his new fire engine to drive around Disneyland with his band, the Firehouse 5 Plus 2.
When Ward Kimball passed away, his family donated the ALF fire engine and his 1888 Silsby Steam Fire Engine to the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.
Gary and Bob first met as pals in the Rolls~Royce Owner’s Club of Southern California in 1979, when he was the Chairman of the Club. Gary was fearlessly building or restoring the wildest cars. Some were very authentic and correct, but the best ones were totally original. His latest mad-man project is the LaBestioni Rusty Two.
More details here – Leno drives a 1915 American LaFrance fire truck roadster