Odds are that if you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom, you will recognize the large bronze statue of Walt holding Mickey’s hand at the end of Main Street, USA. Without a doubt, every time I visit the world, I see a myriad of guests standing in front of it, trying to get their picture taken with the iconic statue as Cinderella’s Castle stands in the background.
I took a closer look at this statue on my recent trip with my good pal, Stephen. It is called “Partners” and was sculpted by the well known Disney legend, Blaine Gibson. Blaine’s work is all over the park ranging from Pirates of the Caribbean to the Hall of Presidents. He is currently retired, but still takes on special projects for the company when the opportunity arises (um, would you say no to Disney?). Like with many things, the sculpture was unveiled in Disneyland first in 1993 and later was showcased at Disney World in 1995. Then another statue with Roy Disney sitting on a bench with Minnie Mouse was added in 1999. Stephen, having been to WDW only months before (lucky guy) was nice enough to share with me a fact about the statues he heard on the Keys to the Kingdom tour. The tour guide had explained to Stephen and his friends that the two statues, although made at different times, were actually one piece. With Walt and Mickey, most people think that the two friends are surveying the park and seeing all the great things they have accomplished. Walt is also pointing Mickey towards the statue of Roy and Minnie, telling him that even though he is going somewhere that Mickey cannot follow, there is a place for him on the bench with his brother and Minnie.
Of course like many things, there has been much controversy over whether or not this is actually true seeing as how Roy’s statue wasn’t created until years later, but the sentiment is so sweet that I’m going to believe it anyway. I can’t imagine how Walt felt being so close to finishing the Florida Project knowing that slowly but surely, his health was failing him . How could he leave so many things undone? However hard the ordeal was, it must have given him comfort in the end knowing that Roy would still be there to see his plans through . And above all, his alter ego, Mickey Mouse would go on making millions of people in the world happy well after both brothers had passed…
Whether the sentiment was intentional or not, I’d like to think that in the end, Gibson was merely trying to create a piece to show people that even after the creator was gone, the creation would live on.