Mary Blair Tile Murals
There’s so much to do in Tomorrowland.
Circle-Vision 360 is right across from
Adventure Thru Inner Space.
Colorful PeopleMover trains
scoot by overhead and Rocket Jets
orbit not far away.
But before you run to the next ride, take a moment to look
up at the two ceramic tile murals that make Tomorrowland warm
One mural is on the Adventure Thru Inner Space building and the other is on the
Bell System CircleVision building.
Together, the two murals form a work of art called
The Spirit of Creative Energies Among Children.
You say you’re reminded of It’s a Small World?
That’s not a coincidence.
The talented artist who designed these charming muralsas well
as being a key creative force behind It’s a Small Worldis Mary Blair.
These arent just smooth ceramic tiles. The mural has textures as well as colors.
Wait a minute...
What are these murals doing in Tomorrowland?
Theres nothing futuristic or technological about these murals, is there?
Actually, the north mural shows children from different nations dancing and making music beneath a row of communication satellites.
Ribbons above their heads symbolize global communications.
Colorful communication satellites bring the world closer together.
The south mural, on the Adventure Thru Inner Space building, is about energy, with nods to solar energy, wind energy, water power, and fire.
These murals are timeless.
Walt Disney personally chose to have Mary Blairs art bring
optimism and joy to the 1967 New Tomorrowland.
Unfortunately, Walt Disney died before he could see the New Tomorrowland completed.
Get an eye-level view of Mary Blairs murals from the PeopleMover
These murals are huge.
Each mural is 54 feet in length and 15½ feet high.
When Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland opened in 1967, two
striking murals by Mary Blair faced each other.
The south mural (on the Inner Space building) lasted until 1986.
It was replaced by an outer space mural which served as the facade
for the new Star Tours attraction (1987).
For around ten years, the north Mary Blair mural and the Star Tours
mural faced each other.
It was an odd juxtaposition of styles.
Star Tours mural (1986-)
1998 Tomorrowland Mural (1998-2005)
The north mural (on the Circle-Vision building) lasted until 1997.
This legacy from the 1967 New Tomorrowland project became a victim of
the 1998 New Tomorrowland project.
The 1998 Tomorrowland Mural was actually sort of a Yesterland mural, featuring pre-1967 Tomorrowland transportation systems.
There was again an odd juxtaposition of styles.
Its a shame that timeless art by a legendary Disney artist was replaced by lesser muralsnot awful murals, just murals that didnt measure up to what they replaced.
Mary Blair (1911-1978) designed stylized concept art for Disney
animated features in the 1940s and early 1950s.
You might even recognize her work in
Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Melody Time,
Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland.
In his book Before the Animation Begins (Hyperion, 1996),
animation historian John Canemaker devotes 29 pages to Mary Blair.
No other Disney artist comes close to getting so much coverage in this book.
Canemaker followed up with an entire book about Mary Blair,
The Art and Flair of Mary Blair, published in 2003.
Its a wonderful art book with many examples of Mary Blairs
stylized concept designs for animated Disney films, as well as art that Mary Blair did outside of Disney.
Book: The Art and Flair of Mary Blair
John Canemaker, 2003
Disney Editions, New York, NY
Mural in Disneys Contemporary Resort
Mary Blair’s largest mural is not in Yesterland.
The Grand Canyon Concourse
continues to delight guests in the dramatic lobby of the
Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World.
Featuring stylized birds, animals, flowers, and American Indian children,
the mural consists of 18,000 hand-painted tiles and is 90 feet tall.
You can see it from the monorail, but that won’t give you enough time
to look for the five-legged goat.
Will we ever see the Mary Blair Tomorrowland murals again?
Were the murals destroyed?
Or are they still intact under the current murals?
In The Art and Flair of Mary Blair, John Canemaker wrote,
The Tomorrowland murals were not truly permanent:
both “disappeared” when they were covered over by renovations in 1987 and 1998.
“Mary Blairs murals were not damaged or painted on,”
[longtime Imagineering executive] Marty Sklar notes, “but the decision was made for cost reasons to leave them in placehidden treasures at Disneyland!”
Other accounts are less optimistic.
At least one person owns a chunk of the south mural.
And if cost was such an issue, how much care was taken to protect the Mary
Blair murals when subsequent murals were installed?
Maybe the time will come when the current murals are considered dated.
Maybe then, Disneyland will bring back the art of a great artisteven
if it requires reproducing some damaged tiles.
here to discuss this page on the Yesterland Discussion Forum at
© 2007 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks
Last updated December 12, 2006.
Photograph of the tile mural on the Circle-Vision building: 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of mural (children playing instruments) : 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of mural (children dancing): 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of mural (communication satellites): 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of PeopleMover passing the murals: 19xx by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Star Tours mural: 2006 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of 1998 Tomorrowland mural: 1998 by Allen Huffman.
Book cover of The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: © 2003 Disney
Photograph of mural in Disneys Contemporary Resort: 2003 by Werner Weiss.