Old Trees for a New Park

One of Walt Disney’s many challenges in building Disneyland was taking an orange grove and landscaping themed lands in a way that made it appear like they’ve been there for a long time. The man in charge of that unenviable task was Disney Legend Bill Evans, who previously helped Walt landscape his Holmby Hills home along with his partner and brother, Jack Evans. They are both pictured here overseeing the delivery of another tree. 

There were few existing trees on the property to utilize. One exception was the row of eucalyptus trees that still exist today between City Hall and the Jungle Cruise, that provided an excellent visual barrier to keep people from seeing Main Street from the jungle. Aside from those trees, the Evans brothers were desperate to find full growth trees as Walt demanded. They searched everywhere throughout the region and reportedly even offered random homeowners $200 to buy a suitable tree. Fortunately, the construction of the Santa Monica, Pomona and Santa Ana freeways coincided with the park’s construction and the Evans brothers worked closely with the crews building the freeways to take away trees that were set to be uprooted. 

As if simply accumulating the trees wasn’t bad enough, the Evans brothers also had to please Walt and his meticulous vision. During one of their many walk throughs of the park before it opened, Walt turned to the park’s construction manager, Joe Fowler, and asked, “Joe, that tree looks a little close to the walkway doesn’t it?” Fowler then turned to Bill Evans and said, “How about moving that tree, Bill?” Evans did as he was told and “moved all 10 tons of it a little ways back” about 10 feet overnight. The following day as the men went past the spot, Evans said, Walt “didn’t say a word. He just smiled.”

Design People

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