November 18, 1993 – The Partners Statue is Installed in Disneyland
“I thought that it was an honor to do a statue of Mickey and Walt who was, in my opinion, the real genius behind all of this…Walt gave me and many others some of the happiest times of our lives, and this project was important because it wasn’t just for Walt…it was about Walt.” – Disney Legend Blaine Gibson
On November 18, 1993, the famous Partners statue was installed in the hub at Disneyland. Depicting Walt Disney holding hands with Mickey Mouse, it was added to the park to celebrate Mickey’s 65th birthday. It was created by Disney Legend and former Imagineer Blaine Gibson, who came out of retirement specifically for this project, and it took him a year to work on it. The statue was based on a bust Gibson had done for Walt back in the 1960s as a thank you gift, although Walt had apparently said upon seeing it, “What am I going to do with this? Statues are for dead people.” The statue stands at 6’ 5” tall, although Walt himself was only 5’ 10”, and the hand-holding between Mickey and Walt was based on the movie Fantasia, where conductor Leopold Stokowski shakes Mickey’s hand after the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence. The unveiling ceremony featured many Disney Legends in attendance, including Rickard Sherman, who played a rendition of “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins, one of Walt’s favorite songs. At one point during the performance, one bird flew down and glided right over the piano, with Sherman taking this as a sign from Walt that he approved. Since the unveiling of the statue, copies of it have been replicated in other parks: Walt Disney World in 1995, Tokyo Disneyland in 1998, Walt Disney Studios Paris in 2002, and the Disney Studio in Burbank in 2003.