Saturday, August 26, 2017

20 Iconic Images Taken By A Former Disneyland Photographer

By Keith Mahne

How would you like to be known as the person who shot more pictures of Disneyland than anyone? That's the title held by former Disneyland photographer Renie Bardeau. As someone who started at Disneyland back in the summer of 1959, there is no doubt about it that Renie has seen and, thankfully, captured some pretty iconic images of Walt's Magic Kingdom over the years. In fact, Renie is responsible for taking perhaps the most famous image of Walt Disney ever captured on film — the iconic photo called “Footsteps” which features Walt strolling in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Learn the story behind this historic image of Walt as we take a look at 20 iconic photos taken by a former Disneyland photographer in today's new article...

Renie Bardeau holds up a photo album of Disneyland images he took throughout his storied career at the "Happiest Place On Earth."

They call it “Footsteps,” and it happened so fast.

Renie Bardeau, a Disneyland staff photographer, was walking toward the park’s photo lab, three cameras dangling from his neck.

He saw Walt Disney strolling in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.


Bardeau didn’t know it at the time, but on that day in 1964 he had just made history.

Disney officials call the iconic photo “Footsteps.” Over the past 50 years, it has become one of the most reproduced pictures of Walt Disney at Disneyland, appearing on coffee mugs, T-shirts, limited-edition lithographs and posters.

“It was a ‘grab shot,’” said Bardeau, now 81 and living in Arizona. “I didn’t think I had anything.

Renie Bardeau stands next to other iconic photos of Disneyland he took over the years.

“There’s the right way, the wrong way and the Disney way to make photographs. You can’t teach the Disney way. You can’t describe it. When it’s right, you just feel it, and snap.”

The iconic images seemed to roll out of his camera: Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Robert Kennedy, John Glenn, Emperor Hirohito, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, John Wayne. All classic images used in advertising, newspapers, books, posters, note cards.

Not bad for a college student who went looking for a summer job back in 1959.

“At times I have moaned and groaned, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat,” said Bardeau.

Bardeau holding up his Main Street window.

Bardeau probably shot more pictures of Disneyland than anyone. He figures his tally is in the hundreds of thousands.

Bardeau enjoyed a warm relationship with Walt Disney, and the stories he tells are terrific.

There was the time he was eating breakfast at the old Hills Brothers Cafe on Main Street.

“In comes Walt and asks me if he could sit down. So immediately a waitress comes over and asks, ‘Can I help you, Mr. Disney?’ Walt says, ‘Yes, but remember, I am Walt. There is only one Mr. in Disneyland and that’s Mr. Toad.’”

The photo Bardeau most cherishes? His very last snap of Disney in the park, sitting at the wheel of a firetruck with Mickey Mouse at his side and Sleeping Beauty Castle towering in the distance.

He had already snapped 11 photos of the scene.

“Go ahead and shoot one more,” Walt Disney said.

Renie Bardeau was a photographer at Disneyland from 1959 until 1998. He served as the theme park's chief photographer from 1975 to 1998. His first photo assignment was a black and white series of photos featuring, then, Vice President Richard Nixon and Walt Disney at the dedication of the Disneyland Monorail System.

And now, here are 20 iconic images by Renie Bardeau taken throughout his magical career as a Disneyland photographer...

1) Walt Disney's Last Public Visit to Disneyland:

Disneyland park photographer Renie Bardeau recalls making this series of photos with Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse during Disney's last visit to the theme park before his passing. This time, Bardeau was handling color photos while another shooter focused on black and white pictures.

2)  Walt Disney's “Footsteps” Photo:

This is perhaps Bardeau's best-known photo. Known as “Footsteps,” the candid picture of Walt Disney leaving Sleeping Beauty Castle during one of his quiet walks through the park was made on a Saturday morning in 1964 before the park opened.

3)  Jack Benny at Disneyland:

Jack Benny on a visit to Walt's Magic Kingdom known as Disneyland.

4) Walt Disney Opens "it's a small world":

Walt Disney participates in the grand opening of i"it's a small world".

 5) Capturing the Matterhorn:

Renie Bardeau says one of his favorite challenges was finding new ways to photograph Disneyland. He took particular joy working on The Matterhorn. "It was fun to find new ways to make the mountain look different," he said. Here, the long-gone Astro Jets attraction occupies the foreground.

6) Jim Carrey at Disneyland:

Jim Carrey with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.

 7) The Candlelight Processional:

For the annual Candlelight Processional Bardeau says he perched himself on top of the highest tower on top of the Emporium Gift Shop on Main Street to get this stunning vantage point.

8) Walt and The Jungle Cruise:

Walt Disney points to a lion during a renovation at The Jungle Cruise. According to Renie Bardeau, who took this picture, Disney was generally accompanied by two staff photographers. One shooter would handle black and white pictures and the second would handle color. The black and white photos were meant for newspapers and the color photos were made for magazines and park marketing.

9)  Robert Kennedy and John Glenn at Disneyland:

Robert Kennedy, left, and John Glenn on Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds.

 10) Walt's Special Coffee Maker:

According to long-time Disneyland photographer Renie Bardeau, Walt Disney was traveling through Europe and enjoyed both the aesthetic and flavor of the coffee at ‘some restaurant.' The restaurateur, according to Bardeau, had an identical coffee maker shipped to Disney as a gift. Walt had it installed at Disneyland, where it remained for years, posed for this photo, by Bardeau, and sent it to the restaurateur as a thank you. The shoot itself couldn't have been easier, according to Bardeau. “Walt was a real pro at this sort of thing,” he explained. “We set up our lights early and recruited a couple of servers to be in the picture with Walt. He walked in, picked up the saucer and coffee cup, smiled and I went ‘snap-snap-snap' and that was that.” But the picture remains special to Bardeau because, “It's just something different.”

11) The Opening of the Submarine Voyage:

Mrs. Mildred Nelson, wife of Chief Machinist Mate Stewart N. H. Nelson of the USS Nautilus, left, smashes a bottle of champagne on top of Disneyland's Nautilus submarine with Walt Disney during the attraction's dedication in 1959. The picture was made by Disneyland photographer Renie Bardeau.

12) John Goodman at Disneyland:

John Goodman on a visit to Disneyland during The Lion King Celebration.

 13) Kodak's Walt at Disneyland Commercial Shoot:

Walt Disney poses with children at Disneyland during a commercial shoot for Kodak. Kodak, Bardeau says, wanted pictures of Walt surrounded by children. So, park employees were asked to bring their kids to work that day.

 14) Ronald Reagan at Disneyland's 35th Anniversary:

Ronald Reagan waves to parade goers during Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Celebration.

15) George H.W. Bush Visits Disneyland:

George H.W. Bush visited Disneyland in September 1988, when he was still Vice President.

16) Walt Disney at the Walt Disney School:

Walt Disney appears at Walt Disney Elementary School.

17) Michael Jackson at Disneyland:

Michael Jackson with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland.

18) Jay Leno Visits Disneyland:

Jay Leno poses with Minnie Mouse at Disneyland.

19) O. J. Simpson at Disneyland:

A young O.J. Simpson eating lunch on a trip to Disneyland.

20) Steve Jobs at Disneyland:

Steve Jobs stops for a photo with Minnie and Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.

Source: The Orange County Register


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

You can find all of Keith's articles here.

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