How Former Head of Imagineering, Marty Sklar Almost Missed The Opening of Shanghai Disneyland

By the time he retired in 2009 after 54 years with the Walt Disney Company, Marty Sklar had been at the opening of every Disney theme park.

But attending the opening of Shanghai Disneyland was not in his plans.

That changed, of course.

Sklar was asked to head to China, and is in Shanghai checking out what Walt Disney Imagineering, the arm of the Disney company that designs its theme parks, has done.

He fully approves.

“Shanghai is the best park we’ve ever done,” he said.

He should know. Sklar was the head of Imagineering for many years. During his tenure he oversaw the development of Epcot Center, Tokyo Disney Seas, both parks in Europe, Disney California Adventure, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Marty Sklar is all smiles as he waits for the premiere of The Lion King at the Walt Disney Grand Theater at the Shanghai Disney Resort on June 14, 2016 - Photo Credit: OC Register

Marty Sklar is all smiles as he waits for the premiere of The Lion King at the Walt Disney Grand Theater at the Shanghai Disney Resort on June 14, 2016 - Photo Credit: OC Register

He also worked on all the others prior to Shanghai, and wrote scripts for many Disneyland attractions when Walt Disney was alive.

Sklar started his career at Disneyland, one month before it opened, working as the editor of “The Disneyland News,” a mock newspaper that was handed out to visitors to Disneyland. He ended up at the design company, which he eventually headed up. “If you reflect on 1955, who could have envisioned this,” he said of Shanghai. Sklar arrived Monday and immediately began touring the soon-to-open park. He liked the attention to details.

“The paving changes from land to land and area to area," he said. "That is impressive.” He added “the rock work and facades (of the buildings) are really amazing.”

Photo Credit: OC Register

Photo Credit: OC Register

He started his tour of the new park on Shanghai’s version of Main Street, only there it has a different name. “Mickey Avenue is all about fun, and that’s what it’s supposed to be.”

While many of Disney’s classic films have not been released in China, way back in 1938, Disney’s first full-length animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” was shown in Shanghai.

“Walt was ahead of us, as usual,” said Sklar. He added that Disney would have wondered why it took the company so long to build a theme park in Shanghai.

But as he walked around the new Disney theme park with some of the Imagineers (who used to work for him), he couldn’t help but smile.

“It was worth the wait.”

Source: OC Register

Banner Photo Credit: Dateline Disneyland