Denise's Corner

Interview: Dave Bossert Talks “3D Disneyland: Like You’ve Never Seen It Before”

Hi everyone!

I spoke with author Dave Bossert about his upcoming book, 3D Disneyland: Like You’ve Never Seen It Before – which features a collection of almost one hundred 3D photos (paper glasses included) taken between 1955 and 1980. Bossert is not only a busy writer with books including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons and an upcoming book on Imagineer Claude Coats, but he used to be an animator – including as a supervising effects animator on Beauty and the Beast. Bossert also worked on a variety of Disney park projects including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train AND was awarded a U.S. Patent for his concept in converting 3D film images for use in an iPad app. So, he’s very busy and I’m happy he had some time to talk.


Before diving into the interview, I recommend going to Old Mill Press and picking up one of the first 750 copies of 3D Disneyland: Like You’ve Never Seen It Before – those first books will be signed should ship earlier than at Amazon (otherwise Amazon may be less expensive when released but will debut October 15th)). Bossert was hoping for an August launch of the book but I’m revising this on September 14th and we haven’t heard anything yet on shipping.

Also, I spoke with photographer Ted Kierscey a couple of weeks after this interview, and I have added another paragraph at the end from that conversation.

Bossert started out by telling me that there was an interesting backstory to the book from 25 years earlier. He was working at Walt Disney Animation Studios and happened to split an office with Disney effects animator Ted Kierscey (who took all the photos in the book). Bossert views Kierscey as a mentor and a friend. When Kierscey was 9 years old, he bought himself a Kodak Aniston 3D camera and took it to Disneyland the first week that it was open in July, 1955. He also continued returning to the park and taking 3D photographs through the years, most of which have never been seen except by a handful of people including Bossert.

The Mark Twain July 1955

Photo by Ted Kierscey, from 3D Disneyland: Like You’ve Never Seen It Before by David A. Bossert (The Old Mill Press, 2020)

Kierscey brought in some of the Disneyland slides to Walt Disney Animation Studios (where he worked with Bossert) and Bossert says of that, “We went into a conference room after hours with some other people. Tony Baxter was there, and a few other folks. And Ted was able to project these images and for us to look at them. And I said to Ted – boy, these really should go in a book someday”. And now 25 years later, Ted has been long retired from Disney and Dave and Ted are still friends. And Bossert said to Kierscey that maybe it was time to write the book. “These are pictures that nobody has ever seen before and I’d love to put this together in a book”.

4. Amazon 3D Disneyland riverboat ad

Bossert says that “3D purists would want to have the left and right image in the book and you’d have to take a special lens and look at that and try to get those images to merge together. Another way of doing it is to take the left and right eye image and you merge them together – you are kind of overlaying them together – with one image being tinted cyan and the other eye tinted magenta. Then you are able to look at them with the paper glasses to get the ‘incredible 3D effect”‘.

Bossert chose the concept of the book to be as if you were having a walking tour of Disneyland. The very first image is Walt Disney (as is the last). Bossert said that “I wanted Walt there”. The first image is Walt at the dedication of Fantasyland in July, 1955. “It’s a beautiful picture. People may have seen this picture before, but they’ve never seen it in 3D. We used some digital technology to actually create a 3D image of that.” That photo was not shot in 3D but Bossert wanted to be able to show Walt in 3D.

Once past the Walt photo, the first 3D image is taken from outside the berm, looking up at the train station (the Disneyland entrance). Then you go into Town Square, with the firehouse, City Hall and then there are shots down Main Street. Then you go to Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country and more. “You go from Rivers of America to Frontierland, and then to the castle, to Fantasyland, and then there are some great shots of the Skyway to Fantasyland and the Skyway to Tomorrowland. And a couple of shots from Toontown.” Bossert continued, “We end the book with the beautiful picture of Walt sitting on a bench in an empty Disneyland looking down Main Street. People have seen that image before, but again – they haven’t seen it in 3D”. Bossert is really excited about sharing the images (and we are all excited to see them!) There is a shot of the original spur for the railroad, which was on the NW corner of the park, sort of behind where Critter Country is. That is where the original railroad spur was, before they built the roundhouse on the NE side.


Photo by Ted Kierscey, from 3D Disneyland: Like You’ve Never Seen It Before by David A. Bossert (The Old Mill Press, 2020)

There are “really neat” photos from 1955 – 59, and then a bunch from 1980. It goes from the first week the park was open until 1959 before the 1980 images. Bossert also threw in a couple from 2019 as “connective tissue” and not leave out a particular area. That includes Splash Mountain, which will be rebranded to The Princess and the Frog.

I asked Bossert what a few of his favorite images were. He first said that most images have a really great 3D effect but there are a few that don’t but he wanted them in anyway because it was “brand new Disneyland”. He continued, “The trees aren’t even grown in, there are little sticks holding up the trees at Rivers of America”. The spur photo was fascinating to Bossert as well as another train photo, where beyond it is nothing but orange groves. There are also photos of attractions like The Monsanto House of the Future as well as Jungle Cruise “before the jungle grew in”. And also, of the Mark Twain, where foliage nearby was almost non-existent.

Bossert calls the book “A labor of love” for himself and that “Ted was excited about it, he never thought it would happen”. Bossert went with The Old Mill Press as he did with the Kem Weber book last year so that he could write the books he wanted. Bossert is also working on a Claude Coats book, he’s been writing on it for 4-5 months.

2. Amazon 3D Disneyland train ad

Bossert said that usually he would have a book signing but due to the pandemic, he and Kierscey will sign the 750 books and ship them out. There will be a special holographic emblem with a number on it, 1-750 through The Old Mill Press. The signed books can be ordered now until they are sold out of the 750, and they will be shipped at least a month earlier than Amazon. Add in 20% off with free domestic shipping and Kierscey will likely not be signing any other books.

Bossert talked more about Kierscey, saying he received a scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute from Walt Disney himself, shaking his hand and thanking him for it. After going to service in Vietnam, Kierscey went back to Chounard and then worked for Disney and was mentored by the Nine Old Men.

The book is about the same size as Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, 200 pages. Not every page will have an image (there are just shy of one hundred). Bossert showed me one of the images and how there would be a nice white border to create a windowing effect on the image to enhance it. There are also 14-15 pages of text, including about 3D photography and a history on Kierscey. Bossert worked with Kierscey on many movies, including Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

I did speak with Kierscey on the phone 2 or 3 weeks after I spoke with Dave Bossert. He told me that he had brought enough bottles back to the store to afford a stereo camera, which he took to Disneyland within a  couple of weeks after the park opened. He still has great memories of early Disneyland. Tom Sawyer’s Island was just starting to grow, and Fess Parker had been there the previous week. He says the “big brag” was to go to Disneyland and everyone watched the broadcast of the opening. Kierscey talked about how Disneyland was freshly painted and new, and everyone came dressed up. “You couldn’t wait to run to your favorite ride”.  He loved 20,000 Leagues and remembers the Skyway buckets going over the park with no Matterhorn. He practiced with his grandmother’s box camera, his dad taught him to use a light meter, and the cover image he shot in 1958.

Honestly, I feel there is another book just with Kierscey’s memories that could be written! And one thing I found fun is that he rode his bike to Knott’s Berry Farm as a kid, and he knew he was getting there because of the chickens. Disneyland was a little too far to ride from his home.

3D Disneyland: Like You’ve Never Seen It Before will be a very unique book for those who are fans of Disneyland. Visit The Old Mill Press to order this special book!