Harriet Burns: The First Lady of Imagineering

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Read Time:2 Minute, 41 Second

There have been many, many, many Imagineers over the years, and they have each played an integral role in the development of all things Disney Parks. But back in 1955, Harriet Burns became the first female Imagineer. She was known for her sleek styling, continually dressing in high heels and stylish skirts. This, naturally, made her stand out amongst her male counterparts and the power tools used in building sets and models. She was hired in 1955 to work on the Mickey Mouse Club. There, she helped build and design the Mouse Clubhouse, which served as the centerpiece of the show.

Burns shared a work station with Fred Joerger, who was a model builder for WED Enterprises. Together, they worked on models for Disneyland Park, in addition to Burns job as a set builder. Originally, WED Enterprises had 3 members: Burns, Joerger, and Wathel Rogers. WED Enterprises then became the WED Model Shop, before officially becoming what is now known as Walt Disney Imagineering.

“It was the 1950s,” she later explained. “I wore color-coordinated dresses, high heels, and gloves to work. Girls didn’t wear slacks back then, although I carried a pair in a little sack, just in case I had to climb into high places.”

-Harriet Burns

Harriet Burns first began work designing the model for just this one tiny thing for Disneyland: Sleeping Beauty Castle. You know, no big deal. Next, she began working on the model for the Matterhorn Bobsleds, a 1/100 scale of Switzerland’s Matterhorn Mountain. She also built the model for, and designed, New Orleans Square, including the Haunted Mansion, Storybook Land, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more.

In addition to model-building, she was also seen doing figure-finishing, or applying paint and other finishing touches to attractions and mannequins to create the “finished” look. Famously, she personally feathered ALL of the Tiki Birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and gave them their lifelike appearances, including making them appear to be breathing. She also finished the pirates, going so far as to give each pirate ACTUAL LEG HAIR.

I’m not sure if you know this, but Harriet Burns is, in fact, responsible for the fact that birds sing words. She built a miniature model of the entire Pirates of the Caribbean ride, placing each scene and pirate meticulously out so that everyone could visualize what they would design. I mean, absolutely incredible.

She personally designed and painted the set pieces and underwater figurines for the submarine voyage ride, in addition to the famous magic of the Haunted Mansion.

But not only did she do this work at Disneyland, she also worked on designing for the 1964 World’s Fair, where she did figure finishing and set design for both the Carousel of Progress and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. She also made regular appearances on The Wonderful World of Color with Walt Disney himself.

Harriet Burns was the first woman in Disney History to be honored with a Main St USA window, located in Walt Disney World. She is also memorialized in the Haunted Mansion’s graveyard. So many great Imagineers are honored in these ways, and I encourage you to pay close attention the next time you’re there!

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Pass Time in Lines

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Read Time:4 Minute, 25 Second

15 Ways to Pass Time in Lines

Even with the most meticulous planning, chances are you’re going to spend time in line at some point on your Disney vacation. Here are my tried and true tips for keeping everyone happy while waiting to get to the front of the queue! Enjoy my 15 ways to pass time in lines!

GRAB A PARK MAP OR TWO!

It may seem counterintuitive to grab a park map or two, and not very environmentally friendly, but remember they are great free souvenirs and can be repurposed as other things (I, myself, have decoupaged several vases with park maps to add that Disney magic to my home decor!). So when you enter the parks in the morning, regardless of which park you’re in, grab some maps. As you wait in line, have each member of your group pick out and rank what rides they want to do that day, from must-do to want-to. Then you can compare lists and make sure to do something everyone wants to do! You can also play “I Spy” with the maps, or see who can find secret pathways from land to land or who can come up with the best shortcuts for avoiding crowded areas.

Play the “Heads Up!” Game On Your Phone

Pass Time in Lines

“Heads Up!” is a fun game that combines Super Password and Charades (kind of). The app puts the game on your phone, so all you need is that! Just open the app, choose your deck, and then start the game.

One person will hold the phone on their forehead, so that only the other players see the word. Players give verbal clues, and the person holding the phone try to guess the word. We LOVE to play the Disney Parks deck while in line, and we usually get lots of “hey what is that?!” questions from our fellow line-mates.

To get the deck, it is $.99 on iOS or free on Android. You can also get it for free if you “check in” to the Disney parks online via the Heads Up social media.

Play Games on the Disney Play App

Pass Time in Lines

Did you know that Disney has made an app full of games and trivia? Well download the Disney Play app now! There are games to play in line queues that interact with the queue, trivia, badges for rides, and more! And, with the all-new Magicband+ launching this week, there will be even MORE games to play!

Pass Time in Lines

Stay Hydrated and Snack to Avoid Hanger

Lines are a great place to refuel and rehydrate. Pack small snacks, like fruit snacks, trail mix, goldfish, and keep yourself going. It is very hot in Central Florida, and it’s easy to get dehydrated and then you forget to eat. While you’re standing there, take advantage of the time to drink up and snack up! You could also grab an ice cream treat or popcorn or pretzel, etc. before hopping in line, but beware, it may last longer than the line or make an incredible mess!!

Play Games!

  • Pack a small pad of paper and play hangman, Pictionary, tic tac toe, etc.
  • Play “I Spy” using the line queue
  • Play Disney “Would you rather?”
  • Play Disney 20 Questions

Play Disney Eye Found It

Pass Time in Lines

Basically a deck of cards to play “I Spy,” but it takes the leg work out of you having to come up with the thing you spy. Get it here on Amazon.

Disney Mad Libs

There are TONS of Mad Lib books available, including Disney Fab 5, Marvel, Star Wars, Princesses, and more. Find one (or more) that your whole group will enjoy and pull it out in line for a fun game to pass the time.

Look for Hidden Mickeys

You can do this on your own, or get one of the MANY books that list in great detail where the Hidden Mickeys are and go from there!

Order Your Next Meal on My Disney Experience

Figure out where everyone wants to eat, and place your mobile ordering order while waiting in line, so you can just quickly pick it up after you finish riding. Read more about Mobile Ordering here!

Journaling

Get a travel journal and keep track of your adventures (or let the kids journal, a good way to keep up with writing skills!). Kid’s Travel Journal: Mouse Edition

Check Out All Your Latest Photos

Take the downtime to check out your latest Memory Maker photos posted to the app! OR talk about what you’re going to do as a group for your next EPIC ride photo!!

Pass Time in Lines

Plan Your Next Adventure

Talk to each other (GASP) and decide what you’d like to do next!

Pack Fidgets and Other Small Toys

Sometimes, small toys are a life saver! Get your kids a fanny pack or a small cinch sack and whatever they can carry, they can play with!

Reapply Sunscreen/Freshen Up

Again, it’s hot in Central Florida. Pack additional sunscreen, wipes to clean up your sweaty self, even a travel size deodorant. Don’t be the smelly family!

Talk to Each Other/Other Guests In Line

I know, how dare I suggest communication. How very old-fashioned of me.

Ready to book your vacation? Contact me today for your free, no-obligation vacation quote!!

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