Heard the sad news?


I have just learnt the sad news of the passing of Bruce Gordon and I just can't believe it!

What a shame and a loss for us all!


Bruce Gordon, 56; helped create Disney attractions

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 8, 2007

Bruce Gordon, a former longtime Disney Imagineer who was involved in the creation of numerous Disney theme park attractions around the world and wrote or co-wrote an array of Disney-related books, has died. He was 56.

Gordon died at his home in Glendale on Tuesday, a Disney spokesman said. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

A Disneyland fan since he first visited the Anaheim theme park as a young boy shortly after it opened in 1955 -- he built models of Disneyland attractions in his garage while growing up and was a lifelong collector of Disneyland memorabilia -- Gordon launched his career at Walt Disney Imagineering as a model designer in 1980.

He played a key role in the creation of Splash Mountain at Disneyland in 1989 for which he was credited as "show producer": He was responsible for turning the creative vision into reality.

Gordon also was the show producer for the 1998 renovation of Tomorrowland, as well as for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which opened at Disneyland in 2003; and for Tarzan's Treehouse, which opened in 1999.

When he left his position as a project director at Walt Disney Imagineering in 2005, he was the show producer for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, which opened at Disneyland this year.

Tony Baxter, creative vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering, met Gordon in the early 1980s when Gordon was in charge of constructing all the props and sets for "Journey Into Imagination" for Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

"I recognized this guy was really special because he not only knew how to do it, but he understood the magic and the emotion of what we were trying to create," Baxter said. "We instantly became partners, because I'm an idea person and Bruce was someone who could make ideas real."

After leaving Walt Disney Imagineering, Gordon served as show producer and creative consultant for the upcoming Walt Disney Family Museum, which will be in San Francisco's Presidio area.

"When we conceived the idea of the museum, Bruce was at the top of our list of people we wished to engage to work with us," Diane Disney Miller, Walt Disney's daughter, said in a statement. "Bruce had a deep understanding and appreciation of my father as a man, not simply a brand or icon."

As much as Gordon was highly regarded as an Imagineer, he also was known for his sideline: writing books.

The first, co-written with fellow Imagineer David Mumford, was "Disneyland: The Nickel Tour," a 368-page history of Disneyland told through postcards of the park.

The idea for the 1998 book was hatched in 1983 when Mumford encountered Gordon leafing through a collection of old Disneyland postcards in his office. Mumford had his own collection of these colorful slices of park history.

"We thought that it would be fun to amplify the postcards with information behind what each card shows," Gordon told the Orange County Register in 1998. "We wanted all the stories that nobody ever heard before and that don't make it into the official guidebooks."

Gordon and Mumford had a draft of their massive manuscript completed by 1990, but Disney and several other publishers thought that it was too large and would be too expensive to print.

With the advent of sophisticated desktop publishing, however, the two authors finally decided to self-publish the 4 1/2 - pound book.

After Gordon spent his nights and weekends designing the book on his computer, he and Mumford reportedly mortgaged homes and borrowed money from friends to raise $100,000 to have an Italian printing house produce 3,000 copies.

"Disneyland: The Nickel Tour," which sold for $75 when ordered directly from the publishing house they founded, is widely regarded as the most authoritative book about the Magic Kingdom.

"It was not only comprehensive but refreshing in how someone from the inside was able to share secrets and stories in such an enjoyable manner; it's just a nice combination of fun and history," said David Koenig, the author of "Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland" and three other unauthorized Disney books.

Koenig, who knew Gordon, said he often would see him at Disneyana shows, where "he would give lighthearted presentations on some aspect of Disneyland history. He was an extremely clever, funny guy."

Koenig added: "Disneyland was the greatest passion of his life."

"Disneyland: The Nickel Tour," which went through two printings and is now out of print, was the first of numerous books Gordon turned out.

Among the others he wrote and designed were "The Art of Disneyland," "Disneyland: Then, Now and Forever," "Walt Disney World: Then, Now and Forever," and "The Art of Walt Disney World."

Gordon was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on April 18, 1951, and grew up in Palo Alto and Fullerton. He is survived by his father, Walter E. Gordon, and his sister, Nancy M. Gordon.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at the Church of the Recessional at Forest Lawn, 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale.

Instead of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made in Gordon's name to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.



New Member
I met Bruce a few times, and I really loved to hear him talk. He knew so much about Disney it was scary - but amazing to listen to! I will really miss him.



Bruce Gordon, a former Disney Imagineer who spent 25 years working in a variety of top creative capacities for the Disney theme parks and authored/co-authored definitive books on a wide range of Disney subjects and legends, passed away suddenly at his home in Glendale, California on November 6th. The cause of death has yet to be determined. He was 56 years old. Gordon wrote and designed books about the Disney theme parks (Disneyland: The Nickel Tour, The Art of Disneyland, Disneyland: Then, Now and Forever, Walt Disney World: Then, Now and Forever, The Art of Walt Disney World), and such famous Disney figures as the Sherman Brothers (Walt?s Time), Peter Ellenshaw (Ellenshaw Under Glass), and Herb Ryman (A Brush with Disney). Since leaving his post as project director at Walt Disney Imagineering in 2005, he had been serving as show producer and creative consultant for The Walt Disney Family Museum, which will be housed in San Francisco?s Presidio area.

Commenting on Gordon?s passing, Academy Award?-winning composer/songwriter Richard Sherman said, ?Bruce had an amazing and inventively creative mind. He had a warm and generous heart. He marched to his own drummer with an unswerving desire to achieve excellence. He was my great and very dear friend and I will miss him forever; many will.?

Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney, added, ?All of us who have been working with Bruce on the Walt Disney Family Museum are devastated by his sudden death. When we conceived the idea of the museum, Bruce was at the top of our list of people we wished to engage to work with us. Bruce had a deep understanding and appreciation of my father as a man, not simply a brand, or icon. Brilliant, inventive, creative, Bruce understood the value of entertainment, of playfulness. He knew the story we wanted to tell so well, and he had strong ideas about how to tell it. As ?show producer,? he was always a passionate voice for the things he considered vital to the story. He himself was vital to our project. His fingerprints are all over our museum, and they always will be.?

Tony Baxter, creative vice president at Imagineering, noted ?Bruce?s talent in fabricating the amazing show for Epcot?s ?Journey Into Imagination? stood out so dramatically from all other efforts being done back in the early 80?s. It was destiny that he would become my instant creative partner in conceiving and producing attractions that continue to delight guests around the world. He was a true renaissance artist, accomplished in every area of creativity, with the practical ?know how? to make complex Disney dreams a reality. His talent and friendship will never be replaced.?

Gordon began his career as a model designer at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) in 1980, and went on to lend his talents and passion to the creation of numerous Disney theme park attractions around the world. He made major contributions to such popular attractions as Splash Mountain (for which he was credited as show producer), Tarzan?s Treehouse, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Most recently, he helped to develop the concept for the ?Finding Nemo? Submarine Voyage, which opened at Disneyland earlier this year. Among his earliest assignments for WDI, Gordon produced show set pieces for a number of Epcot attractions and was also a member of the installation team for ?Journey Into Imagination? in Future World. At Disneyland, he assumed the same responsibility for New Fantasyland, which opened in 1983.

Born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Gordon grew up in Palo Alto and Fullerton, California. He went to Disneyland often as a child, and built countless models of the famous landmark in his parents? garage. One particularly ambitious project involved actual water from the ?Jungle Cruise? that he smuggled out of Disneyland in a milk carton.

Gordon was a lifelong collector of Disneyana and sought vintage Disneyland memorabilia at swap meets, conventions, and collectible shops. In addition to the numerous books that he authored and designed on the history of Disney theme parks, he was also a frequent editor and contributor to various Disney employee publications, and wrote feature articles on the subject for national magazines. He also appeared frequently as a speaker at Disneyana conventions, often paired with his initial co-author, the late David Mumford.

Over the past two years, besides working on The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, Gordon worked closely with acclaimed songwriter Richard Sherman (and collaborator Milt Larsen) writing the book for an ambitious new musical themed to the early days of Broadway called ?Pazazz!? He is also credited as co-producer on ?The Boys,? a feature length documentary about the Sherman Brothers that is currently being directed by Gregg Sherman (son of Richard) and Jeff Sherman (son of Robert). He had also recently completed co-authoring and designing a biography on famed Disneyland ?Golden Horseshoe? performer Wally Boag. Entitled The Clown Prince of Disneyland, the book will be published in 2008.

Gordon is survived by his father, Walter E. Gordon of Placentia, California, and his sister, Nancy M. Gordon of Washington D. C. A memorial service is scheduled for Monday November 12th at 2:00 pm at Forest Lawn - Glendale in the Church of the Recessional (1712 S. Glendale Ave. Glendale, 91205).

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Active Member
There are also two more books on the way that he authored. "Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever", and "The Art of Walt Disney World". both are due out next year in April and May respectively. He really left an indelible mark on Disney history, especially with his book collaborations. He'll be sorely missed.

Dr. Know

Terribly sad news. I can't believe David Mumford and Bruce Gordon are now both gone. Disneyland: The Nickel Tour has always been my favorite park history book.
With my Mom just being placed in a nursing home a few weeks ago, and just coming back home after visiting her in that setting for the first time over this past weekend, I was instantly attracted to a post offering yet more bad news...bring it on...

Anyway, sad news indeed...I agree with you, Jim--"The Nickel Tour" is a cornerstone in my Disney collection. It's essential for the historical narrative, but also, for me personally, I actually have a number of the postcards shown, from the 60's, as my aunt(Mom's sister) lived almost next door to Disneyland at that time, and she kept sending back East an endless supply of tempting memorabilia--and postcards, including cards that squeeked(the Si and Am card, I believe) and ones with lenticular images; I found all the ones I saved, gathered together in a box in the garage a few years ago--they've since moved up in their memorabilia status. Now both David and Bruce are gone...yet another Disney tragedy.

I had been interested in seeing "No Country For Old Men," the Coen brothers' latest, tomorrow--but I really think I need to be Enchanted...


P. S. Thanks for the links, X-S.