Off in the distance in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, you might spy a sailing ship’s masts and sails. It looks like a ship is anchored on the waterfront in the Port of New Orleans. I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to bob and weave my way through the backstreets and passageways of New Orleans Square to find that ship and explore further. Of course, this is all Disney magic, and it is also a tip of the hat to one of Disney’s Legends, Herb Ryman.
When Walt Disney was seeking the financial backing to build Disneyland, he needed a prop or a mock up of the park to show to his potential investors. So over one famous weekend, he and artist Herb Ryman produced a large, 18 foot illustration of what Disneyland was envisioned to be.
Needless to say, the rest is history, but Herb Ryman went on to help design many iconic Disneyland projects including Sleeping Beauty Castle, Main Street USA, Jungle Cruise and many others.
Later, when Walt decided to build New Orleans Square, he asked Herb to come up with several ideas for its layout and design. In his concept art, Herb included many of the buildings you see today in the foreground, but also included some masts and sails in the background to give the illusion of a far off sailing ship. It also added “depth” to the land.
“One of the defining concept renderings for New Orleans Square by Imagineering artist Herbert Ryman showed the masts of a tall sailing ship framed by the rooftops, appearing as if a tall ship was just entering the Port of New Orleans.”– D23.com
Those masts and sails did not make it into the construction of New Orleans Square when it opened in 1966. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that Disney Imagineers added the masts and sails to the rooftops of New Orleans Square to finally complete Herb Ryman’s original vision.