There's something about a neon sign that can't be replicated by any other form of signage. LED's are too sterile, and hand painted signs are great, but lose their impact when it's dark. Neon seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years, and we felt that reproducing a historic Disney sign would pay an homage to the historical studio, and neon signs in general.
We set out to build the most historically accurate reproduction we could, using photographs, and diagrams from various archives around the company. This seemed to be a walk in the park, however there was one missing ingredient, what color were the neon tubes? All of the photographs we had referenced were black and white, and the diagrams had no color callouts. Variants of this sign have been reproduced by the company in the past, in forms of novelty wall hangers, and enamel pins, but they seemed to vary wildly, and that's not what we were after. The Silly Symphony shorts of the era had variants of this sign's layout, but again, varied wildly, and we weren't getting anywhere. The neon artist we had contracted to produce the sign began giving us a history lesson on what colors were even available at the time, and how they would have been used in this format of a sign. We knew that "Mickey Mouse" and "Silly Symphonies" were red, based on that being the only constant we found in the title card exploration we had done. So based on the contrast in the black and white photographs, we came to the conclusion that the top half of the sign had to be blue.
The final product now hangs in the lower level break room of the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, CA, and was produced by Lili Lakich.
All images ©Disney enterprises inc.
Historical photo of the construction of the original Walt Disney Studios lot, located on Hyperion Ave. in Los Angeles. You can see the original sign hoisted on the roof of the building.