Thursday, July 31, 2008

Who Lives in the Echo Lake Apartments?

Its time once again for a little theme parkeology, so we are going to head over to an interesting "dig site" at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.

The Echo Lake Apartments are located between the Hollywood & Vine restaurant and the Tune In Lounge in the Echo Lake area of the Studios. According to the mailboxes located just to the right of the building entrance gate, there are ten apartments in the building. The residents listed on the mailboxes are:

Apartment 101: Polk/Olson

Apartment 102: Hamilton/Gray

Apartment 103: Mr and Mrs Kilankowski

Apartment 104: Roberdeau - John Roberdeau Drury

Apartment 105: T. Kirk

Apartment 201: Beyer/Quinn

Apartment 202: Vais

Apartment 203: Dietzel/Benson

Apartment 204: Empero/Zovich

Apartment 205: Mr and Mrs D. Yanchar

It appears that the names listed represent Imagineers who were part of the team that created the Disney-MGM Studios in the late 1980s. We've done some digging and have been able to identify most of those names. Where possible, we have also provided a job title or description for each individual, though it may not have been the one held in 1989 when the Echo Lake Apartments were created.

Apartment 101: John "Robin" Polk (found listed in credits for Expedition Everest); John Olson (Designer and Field Art Director)

Apartment 103: Joe Kilankowski (Senior Architect)

Apartment 104: John Roberdeau Drury (former Design Director)

Apartment 105: T. Kirk - Tim Kirk (Design Director and brother of Steve)

Apartment 201: Steve Beyer (Senior Concept Designer)

Apartment 203: Barbara Dietzel (Was quoted in a 1989 New York Times article about the Prime Time Cafe)

Apartment 204: Tami Empero; John Zovich (WDI engineer, chief engineer of EPCOT)

Apartment 205: Mr and Mrs D. Yanchar - Dave Yanchar (Currently works at WDI on Tokyo Disneyland projects)

The following residents remain unidentified: Hamilton, Gray, Quinn, Vais and Benson.

We welcome any corrections and further identifications. And if by chance you happen to be one of the actual residents of the Echo Lake Apartments, we'd love to hear from you and would be interested in knowing what part you played in the creation of Disney-MGM Studios.

Update: Jeff Kurtti has provided two possible additional identifications. D. De Gray designed graphics for WDI from 1981 to 1984; an artist identified as Lei Vais produced four pieces of work for the then Disney-MGM Studios. Jeff also reviewed my initial list of identifications and helped ID a couple; I was remiss in acknowledgement so -- thanks, Jeff!


Daniel said...

interesting!! i'd love to know about who the mystery residents are!

sambycat said...

ok, i am not old enough to have seen the original mickey mouse club on its first run incarnation, but i immediately thought of TOMMY kirk!! old yeller??? c'mon!

nrachuba said...

Thanks for the info! We've always wondered who the names belonged to on the mailboxes!!

Anonymous said...

I think the "Hamilton" that is alluded to is probably Hamilton Luske.

Jeffrey Pepper said...

It's unlikely the reference is to Luske. He worked primary in animation and television and passed away two decades prior to the opening of the Studios park. The mailboxes clearly appear to be an inside joke dedicated to 1980s era Imagineers who worked on the Studios.

Unknown said...

Great research, Jeff!

I saw those at MouseFest and my mind began to spin with thoughts of unting those down...

Anonymous said...

Maybe Benson was for Jodi Benson who voiced Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," also debuting in 1989?

Michael Ottinger said...

No way! I had no idea that others were so interested in one of my favourite little details of Hollywood. I work as a nerd in the living room of Prime Time and am occasionally seen going next door to Echo Lake Apartments and screaming up the stairs to Mrs. Kilanowski in 103 (unseen), reminding her to take her pills. I just liked the name; I had no idea that was a real person. At night, I and some of the other family members will occasionally go up to the balconies up there and yell goodnight to guests. Very cool! I had no idea those were imagineers. Thanks!

kzberry said...

Polk refers to Katie Polk.

kzberry said...

The Zovich referenced is Kate, not John. Kate worked as an interior designer on the project along with Tami Empero and Barbara Dietzel.