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An outpost at the intersection of Life and Disney

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Creative Connections - In Search of the Disney Coat of Arms

Back in June, we made a creative connection between shop-front signs at Epcot's UK pavilion and some real-world signs that are still evident in today's United Kingdom.

Following the connections also showed us how images from family heraldry play a role in both historic and WED-created UK signs.

Based on these discoveries, I started to wonder if there might be evidence of a Disney family Coat of Arms somewhere in the parks.

The Disney family name is apparently derived from the Norman d'Isigny ("from Isigny"). Given their European roots, Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle seems a likely spot to search for a Disney family crest:

Disneyland Jan 2010  050
A likely place to find a Coat of Arms?

Sure enough, if we look closely over the portcullis  there does appear to be a shield containing what look to me like three lions. Unfortunately, this is the best picture I have. You can find better images by searching the Internet for "Disney family crest castle picture":

Above the drawbridge
Trust me, it's a shield with three lions

Could the "three lions" image be related to the Disney family? Perhaps not.  A little internet surfing makes a few things clear:
  • Selling items displaying family heraldry appears to be quite the business
  • Depending on the family name, one can find contradictory images all claiming to be "the family crest".

I wont pretend to speak with authority on this subject -- but I found an explanation on a discussion board that seems plausible to me. In brief, the explanation claims that: 
  • Coats of Arms were given to individuals (not families).
  • A Coat of Arms is passed on the the eldest son.
  • Opinions vary on the propriety of displaying heraldry based on a common surname.

Although somewhat deflated by this information, I decided to push forward to see if there is evidence of a possible Disney family Coat of Arms on display somewhere in Disneyland.

The most consistent information I found online is that a Disney Coat of Arms consists of three fleur-de-lis:

So the three lions on display over the drawbridge appears to be a bit of a red herring. But as I thought about it, I remembered something I'd heard before (probably on the "A Walk in Walt's Footsteps" guided tour at Disneyland):

A Walk in Walt's Footsteps
Now what was it our Tour Guide told us?...

If I recall correctly, the Guide said something about the Disney family and the crests on display at the back of the castle:

01 - Sleeping Beauty Castle (46)
Waterfalls and castles are sometimes better viewed from the backside

There are multiple uses of the "three fleur-de-lis" motif on display here, especially in the smaller shield symbols over the banner:

Castle Crests

So, have we found another creative connection hidden in plain sight at Disneyland? Maybe, maybe not. I'm satisfied that it is at least a possible link. Fellow Adventurers are encouraged to decide for themselves.

- The Management

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