Landscaping Walt’s Disneyland

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  • Date & Time

    Sat, May 13 | two shows: 1pm–2:30pm & 4–5:30pm | Both programs are SOLD OUT
  • Cost

    $20 members | $30 non-members | $15 student and youth members | $25 student and youth non-members
  • Location


Landscape architect Ruth Patricia Shellhorn helped define the distinctive mid-century regional aesthetic of Southern California. Walt Disney originally hired Shellhorn in March 1955 to coordinate landscape plans between the WED office and the crews at the construction site at Disneyland. Shellhorn quickly saw that much more was needed. By the time Disneyland opened on July 17, Shellhorn had created detailed design plans for the front entrance, Town Square, Main Street, and the Plaza Hub, as well as a pedestrian plan for the entire park. Join Kelly Comras, landscape architect and author of the book Ruth Shellhorn, and Imagineer Julie Bush, a certified arborist and landscape architect, for a presentation on Shellhorn’s vivid contributions. Enjoy a screening of the award-winning documentary short about Shellhorn’s 57-year career, followed by a Q&A and book signing. Discover how Shellhorn helped create a warm welcome into the Happiest Place on Earth, fulling Walt’s vision for the park. Discover how today’s landscape architects maintain the storytelling atmosphere and themed landscaping that Walt envisioned.

Due to popular demand for for this program, we are happy to inform you that we have added a second presentation, which will occur at 4pm on Saturday, May 13. This will be a repeat of the sold-out 1pm program.

On-sale Date and Time for 4pm Program:

Walt's Circle, Supporter, and Friend-level members: Purchase tickets by calling 415.345.6829 beginning Monday, March 6 at 10am.

All other member levels: Purchase tickets online beginning Tuesday, March 7 at 10am.

Public (non-members): Remaining tickets available online or at the ticket desk beginning Wednesday, March 8 at 10am.

More about Ruth Shellhorn

Most well-known for her work on the Bullock’s department stores and Fashion Square shopping centers, projects that redefined the commercial genre as a relaxing and entertaining activity, and for her work with Walt Disney on the original design of Disneyland, Shellhorn also designed a landscape master plan for the University of California at Riverside and other campuses, as well as a number of private gardens and estates for movie stars and the business and financial leaders of the Los Angeles region. She created landscape designs that refined the indoor-outdoor living concept, and she developed a palette of plant materials that perfectly expressed the exuberance and optimism of the post-war era, which became known as “the Southern California look.”

About the Speakers

Kelly Comras

Kelly Comras is principal of Kelly Comras Landscape Architecture and an attorney, practicing in Pacific Palisades, California. Comras' work focuses on the study or use of land, and bringing people together to achieve a common goal related to such use. These projects encompass both public and private landscapes and are generally community-wide in scope. Stakeholders include businesses, non-profit and charitable organizations, educational institutions, community volunteer organizations, elected officials and their constituents, public administrators (city, county, state, and national), and historical groups who work with landscape architects and other professional designers and engineers.

Comras also conducts research, publishes, and lectures on topics relating to mid-century landscape design. Her most recent book, Ruth Shellhorn, is published by the University of Georgia Press and Library of American Landscape History, 2016. She has lectured at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, the California Preservation Foundation, and UCLA. Comras presently serves as President of the California Garden & Landscape History Society.

Julie Bush

Julie Bush is a California Licensed Landscape Architect and Certified Arborist. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Management from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and a certificate in Landscape Architecture from University of California, Irvine.

After working for POD, a large landscape architecture and planning firm, Bush began her Disney career as a consultant at Walt Disney Imagineering in 1991. She later joined the Imagineering staff at the Disneyland Park office in 1993, where she had the honor of having Disney Legends Bill Evans and John Hench as mentors.

Bush is responsible for design and site construction oversight for all Disneyland Resort area development capital work and rehabs. She led the Area Development design and installation of Disneyland’s 10-year Resort-wide paving plan, New Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and the Rivers of America projects. Bush also works closely with the on-site Horticulture and show maintenance teams on show quality issues.

Bush regularly visits Tokyo Disneyland Resort, Disney’s Aulani Resort, and Walt Disney World Resort to assist the Art Directors and Horticulture teams at each park and resort on hardscape and show quality issues.

Landscaping Walt’s Disneyland
  • $20 members | $30 non-members | $15 student and youth members | $25 student and youth non-members
  • Theater