Disney Legends


Top Left: Yale Gracey surveys one of his ghostly illusions devised for the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion.  Top Right: Gracey’s iconic flame effects for the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.  Bottom Left: Adjusting the hat to one of his ghostly creations.  Bottom Right: Together with the legendary Hat Box Ghost of the Haunted Mansion. *Photos courtesy of The Walt Disney Company and the estate of Yale Gracey.

1.  Artistic Training  Self-Taught

2.  A Start At Disney  Yale Gracey joined the Walt Disney Studios as a layout artist in 1939, contributing layout and backgrounds to animated classics such as Pinocchio and Fantasia.  By 1961, through years of hands-on experimentation and curiosity Yale began his second career at Disney as a special effects and lighting artist at Walt Disney Imagineering – then WED Enterprises.  John Hench, former Senior Vice-President, Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering recalled   “Whenever we needed a special effect, we went to Yale.  Sometimes it took awhile to get what we were asking for, however along the way he’d develop other marvellous effects we could use.”

3.  Widely Recognized For  The iconic ‘grim grinning ghosts’ that inhabit the Haunted Mansion.  The realistic flames burning the overtaken city in Pirates of the Caribbean.

4.  Disney Legacy  Creating unique and creative illusions for Walt Disney’s most beloved attractions including the Carousel of Progress for the 1964-65 New York World’d Fair.  The simple, elegant illusion of glimmering pixie dust developed for the Carousel of Progress was later used in Space Mountain to block out the surrounding roller coaster structure.  For the original EPCOT Center the creation of the breathtaking ‘CenterCore’ finale of the much missed World of Motion attraction.

5.  Becoming A Disney Legend  Yale Gracey was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1999.

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