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An imposing figure on the shore of Echo Lake is a large green dinosaur that is perpetually chewing on some grass while serving ice cream and it's not clear to many guests why this dinosaur, named Gertie, is in the park. Is it some old Disney character forgotten by folks?  The fact is that Gertie is more than just a means of selling ice cream. She pays hommage to an important figure in animation history.

Gertie the Dinosaur was released in 1914 and was one of the first animated characters, a creation of Winsor McCay, and it made the entertainment industry in Hollywood take notice of her and animation in general as a legitimate possibility for entertainment. McCay was a New York Times cartoonist when he started hand-drawing every one of 10,000 cells that eventually became the Gertie the Dinosaur animated film. Gertie wasn't the first cartoon but it was McCay's efforts that gave the animated film very lifelike movements and through his innovations, Winsor McCay became generally regarded as the father of the animated cartoon.

The film promoted itself as the "Greatest Animal Act in the World", and included tag-lines like "Gertie: she's a scream. She eats, drinks and breathes! She laughs and cries. Dances the tango, answers questions and obeys every command! Yet, she lived millions of years before man inhabited this earth and has never been seen since!!" Disney picked up on the tag line of Gertie being a "scream" and so she sell's ice cream out of her belly. That fuzzy white line outlining Gertie's neck is a fountain in Echo Lake, part of the hub at the end of Hollywood Boulevard . The lake and fountain near Gertie is probably deliberate as well, because one of her tricks was to drink an entire lake and then spit it all out. It should also be noted that using Gertie as the exterior to an ice cream shop is paying tribute to the architectual style known as "California Crazy", which was popular in the 1930's and was designed to attract the attention of potential customers in a big way by using these larger-than-life buildings.

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Ever seen something in Hollywood Studios and wondered why it was placed there by Disney's Imagineers? Matt Hochberg leads you on a regular look at the hidden details in Hollywood Studios and explains why it's there.


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Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2007 by
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