This piece of concept art (pencil and watercolor), created by Disney Legend Bill Justice (1914-2011), was utilized in the planning and design of the Disneyland Christmas parade, “Fantasy on Parade.” This retooled and updated version of the park’s annual holiday celebration was made possible in large part by the recent box-office success of Mary Poppins. The reboot brought with it the new title, having been previously labeled both “Christmas in Many Lands Parade” (1958-60; 1962-64) and “Parade of Toys and Parade of All Nations” (1961). The “Fantasy on Parade” version became a crowd favorite and a tradition of the Southern California holiday season, boasting an impressive run from 1965-76 and again from 1980-85. The parade, with its cast of over 350 performers, debuted on December 18, 1965, and featured an appearance from Disneyland’s first couple, Walt and Lillian Disney, as well as the reading of the Christmas story by “Mary Poppins” star Dick Van Dyke, set to the tune of a 1,200-member choir.
Bill Justice contributed to the creation of a number of parades over his storied career, including several of the park’s yearly holiday parades, as well as the iconic “Main Street Electrical Parade.” In addition, Justice animated such classic Disney characters as Thumper (Bambi) and chipmunk-duo Chip and Dale, while also working on highly-regarded features like Fantasia, Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. He handled directorial duties on several animated shorts, including the Academy-Award nominated Noah’s Ark, A Symposium on Popular Songs, and The Truth About Mother Goose. He—along with X. Atencio and T. Hee—was also responsible for creating the stop-motion animation sequences in live-action features The Parent Trap and Mary Poppins.
The year he created the “Fantasy on Parade” concept art (1965) was his first in the ranks of the Imagineers. Walt Disney recognized the cross-application potential of his artistic talents and put him to work programming Audio-Animatronics figures for many of the park’s new attractions. Over his career, he worked on Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Mission to Mars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Country Bear Jamboree, America Sings, Hall of Presidents, and Mickey Mouse Revue. He is also known for creating Disneyland’s first official character costumes, over 130 in all. Justice’s numerous accomplishments earned him Disney Legend status in 1996.
This original hand-drawn and painted concept artwork represents just one of countless contributions from a true Disney Legend, whose work impacted the company on several fronts and spanned five different decades.