Toys for Tots Train

Ok, so what does Toys for Tots have to do with Casey Jr.?

In 1948, Walt Disney designed the first poster for Toys For Tots, including the trademark train logo still used today by the organization.

A few other posters were also designed that included Disney characters as well...  Although I'm not sure which train influenced the use of the other on the posters.  Was Casey used because it resembled the train logo, or is the logo derivative of Casey Jr.'s silhouette.  
I was pleased to see these poster images still in use today, at the Walt Disney Studio store on the Burbank lot.  
So next time you see the red Toys For Tots train, think of Walt and Casey helping out children in need.

Monstro the Whale

During the development of Fantasyland, a Monstro the Whale ride starring the famous aquatic mammal from Pinocchio was proposed.  Guests in small boats would enter a cave, perhaps pass by a scenes from the movie with a spashing exit out the whales mouth. 

In this design, Montro has taken the place of Hook's pirate ship as the "weenie" in Fantasyland.  Casey's track winds along the back of the land.  You can almost sense these two attractions beginning to merge.

Of course, now we know Monstro as being then entrance rather than the exit to Storybook Land.  The only flaw with the final design is the fact that many children find going INTO a mouth full of teeth just too frightening.

Just what was Walt looking at in that previous post you ask?  Why, that would be Bruce Bushman's incredible caricature of Storybook Land.  Similar to the park maps that guide visitors around the park, this illustration was meant as a roadmap for the different sights one should expect to see in the new attraction.  

Canal boats full of Mickey-eared guests, two Casey Jr. trains full of smiling children, and a handcar with two rail workers traversing the quilt.   Wait... a handcar?

Where'd these guys come from?  Did the Casey Jr. railroad ever have a tiny handcar that ran around the tracks powered by a couple hickory striped cast members?

Like an open book

Before the Storybook Land Canal Boats opened, the original boat ride under and through the wooden trestles of Casey Jr. was called the Canal Boats of the World.  Walt's original plan for Disneyland was to include an entire miniature land on the same par with Frontierland and Tomorrowland.   Now just nine months after Disneyland opened, the original plan for "Lilliputianland" could be realized.

In this photo Walt shows off a giant storybook map of the new attraction under construction. Walt's characteristically pointing with two fingers to Cinderella's castle, the crown jewel of the new ride. Each miniature's location has already been mapped out, including the nation where the story takes place. Perhaps this was a way to link the theme of "Canal Boats of the World" to "Storybook Land Canal Boats"

Disneyland Magazine

After an extended break in posts, today I'm sharing a bit of Casey in print form on the back cover of Disneyland Magazine from 1971. Here Casey's colors are interpreted as a hunter green with gold wheels and capstack. A fairly well illustrated image, despite the creepy looking Mickey Mouse in the corner trying to sell you a used car. (I think its the eyebrows.)

Can you find all six hats in this image? I should have photoshopped on out just to drive you folks crazy!

Disneyland '55

Although technically not an opening day attraction, Casey Jr. was operational on July 17th 1955. Just three days before Disneyland's opening day, the design of the ride had to be revisited. The locomotive nearly tipped backwards as it crested the peak of the 25% grade of the first steep hill. A nearby construction worker saved the operator, imagineer and Disney legend, Roger Broggie, from catastrophe by catching the front of the engine and returning it back down to its rails. With no time for major retrofitting, lead weights were attached under the pilot of the locomotive. On opening day, Rogger Broggie himself solely ran the train around the tracks for fear that anyone else may get hurt. Following black sunday, Casey Jr. remained closed for six weeks in order to slightly level off the hills. The ride reopened on July 31st, 1955. 

This model was created for the 50th anniversary of Disneyland showing how the park looked in 1955. Without the Storybook Land additions the landscaping looked rather bare. The wood trestles do more closely represent the film incarnations of Casey Jr. though. These were replaced with arched stone bridges during the renovations in 1956.

The locomotive #9 shown here in a publicity shot. Without a bell, eyes, leading truck or cow catcher, Casey also sports a striped paint scheme on the steam dome.

Casey is lowered on to the tracks with the help of a 2x4. Eyes, bell, and cow catcher are still missing, but the steam dome has been repainted. The calliope car can be seen in the background with the side service panel removed.

Here is how little Casey #7 looks today. He has gone through a few changes cosmetically since 1955. But that story will be coming soon.

John Lasseter and Dumbo

The UCLA Film&Television Archive held a special event Monday in a series entitled "The movie that inspired me." John Lasseter was on hand to show a newly struck print of Dumbo made especially for this screening. It was a beautiful print to see up on the big screen. I had grown up only seeing VHS or DVD versions, so seeing the resolution of projected film was a unique experience. Afterwards, John talked about the film and why it was truly his favorite film of all time. Although he mostly talked about the "Baby Mine," "Roustabouts," and final climax of the film, he did mention the Casey Jr. sequences.

"I was always inspired by Dumbo with that perfect, beautiful combination of the cartoony world but everything is done so exquisitely. That scene with Casey Jr. making it over the hill, 'I think I can,' and then those last shots of him going across with the reflection, there's something so beautiful about these little moments. Ken O'Conner, one of the great layout artists at Disney and an instructor of mine at CalArts, brought in layouts on a number of the scenes he had worked on. You dont realize the sophistication of the staging of a lot of things in this film. Its so appealing. The film making aspect of this film is very, very special. Its not just a cartoon. There's really some dramatic staging in this film that sets up the storytelling so beautifully."

"Its so satisfying at the end when they get that really cool private rail car, I always loved that. Even the subtlety of that, Ward Kimball worked that scene and he was such a train nut, he even got the bounce of all the train cars except their car is just perfectly still. Its the little touches like that you just know that he made it."

Casey Junior, the ride

From early on, Casey Jones Junior was put on the design table during the development of Disneyland.  Although these pencil sketches by Bruce Bushman show a ride vehicle slightly different from what eventually was built, the essence of that original ride is still present.  I am, of course, speaking purely of the Casey Jr. Circus Train ride rather than the Storybook Land elements that were later added.
The train shown here has children sitting in open-topped cage cars rather than enclosed cages as well as passengers riding in the locomotive cab and tender.  The tender depicted here is still shown as a separate car rather than attached to the rear of the locomotive as one unit.  Now if only they could have found a way to make those perfect smoke rings.

Even though the volcano never made it through to construction, the hills and tunnels did.  That station also looks suspiciously similar to the Fantasyland Skyway station.

By the time Bruce got to creating this drawing of the station the ride is looking very close to what we all know.  The "TO THE TRAINS" sign you may recognize from the top of this blog, the indication of the two hills in the background, and the locomotive design very close to the final design with the attached tender.  This version still shows children riding in the tender, but with what looks like a ride operator actually in the cab itself.

You can find these images and more in the highly recommended book The Art of Disneyland

Courvoisier cels

I thought I'd post some examples of animation cels that survive to this day.   Most often they are referred to as Courvoisier cels, after gallery owner Guthrie Courvoisier.  He convinced Walt to sell the otherwise destroyed cels as artwork rather than a byproduct of the animation process.  Most of these early cels are nitrate and painted with water based pigments, before acrylic cels and paints were introduced, and are therefore very fragile and deteriorate easily.

The scene from the film

a Courvoisier cel in excellent condition

One in not so good condition.  This particular example may have been varnished as a method of paint preservation.  Over time the varnish has clouded and the cel has split just below the engine.  Its so sad to see cels deteriorate in this fashion.

How long is that train?

The off model colors make me think that this was actually created for the poster or other promo art. However it does give a good depiction of how many cars poor Casey had to struggle with to get up that hill.

Dropped scene

This amazing convoluted background painting was from an unused scene for Dumbo.  Even though I can easily imagine Casey puffing in and out of those tunnels, just how exactly it would have been done remains a mystery.  Its almost as if I'm looking at model train layout just begging to be played with.  

Dumbo Storyboards

This is somewhat a continuation of the previous post. More artwork and storyboards from the hill climbing sequence.

I think I can!
I thought I could!

These scenic shots are some of the most cinematic in the whole film.
One of the last images in the movie. I suppose once you've made it big as a flying elephant you can buy your mother a garishly-painted airstream-shaped private car. So odd...

Dumbo story art

One of my favorite images.  I love how the door to the engine shed has the little cut-out for the smoke stack.  
This shot shows some actual interaction between Casey Jr. and Dumbo and Timothy, something that never made it into the final film.
Like all of the backgrounds in Dumbo, this color study looks to be watercolor.

The mood in both of this images is great.  Casey looks pretty worn out.

Character designs

These are model sheets most likely created for Dumbo. Drawn by Ward Kimball, they were passed out to the animators as reference for the characters they were animating. Whats interesting is the number of characters that were created for the film that were not used. The switch character is back from The Reluctant Dragon, as well as several Semiphore characters. Ward even created an Engineer character that bears striking resemblance to himself. Eventhough these characters never made it into the final film, some did make it into a Casey Jr children's book, which I will post as soon as its scanned.


On October 23rd, 1941, just four months after Reluctant Dragon, Dumbo flew onto the big screen. This time Casey stars as the locomotive pulling the circus train. The melody of his music remains the same from The Reluctant Dragon, but this time lyrics have been added. Perhaps the line "Casey Junior's back" refers to the fact that audiences had just seen him in the studio's prior theatrical release; however, it could simply refer to the fact that the circus has come to town once again.

Ward Kimball

Casey Jr. was created by the one and only Ward Kimball. I could devote an entire blog to covering every aspect of this man and still only scratch the surface, so this will be topic I'll be revisiting often. As one of the famed "Nine Old Men," he was a prized feather in the hat of the Disney studio and was highly respected by Walt himself. Ward's love for trains shone through his animated work on several occasions. If a train appeared in a Disney film, Ward undoubtedly had a hand in its creation.
This autographed image of Ward taken during the filming of The Reluctant Dragon is a recent addition to my collection. What I found particularly interesting is the maquette of Casey Jr. sitting on top of his animation desk.