Exterior Architecture / Mosaics & Decorative Tile / Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

Working “street magic” at Disney

January 8, 2013
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Disney Theme Parks, “Where Dreams Come True,” are the most famous destinations of their kind in the world. Every aspect of each park is meticulously planned out to fulfill a very specific, detailed look. This first impression must creatively and confidently portray the hallmark “Disney magic” in store for visitors. Recently, a re-imagined, completely renovated entryway to Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, CA, was under a quick construction and renamed as the Buena Vista Street entrance.

The overall design of Disney California Adventure was initially created to resemble various aspects of California culture, modeled to look like a postcard of the Golden State. The goal of the new project was to create a look reminiscent of the 1920’s in Los Angeles, homage to when Walt Disney first arrived there.

To create the desired look, every detail of the construction and the products used had to be perfect, as creating a 1920s three-dimensional visual almost 100 years later was no easy task. The project required an enormous amount of tile and stone to accurately depict the era. Continental Marble and Tile of Corona, CA, was contracted to handle the task of installing the tile. “This was a huge project in every account,” said Curtis Ballantyne of Continental Marble and Tile.

“For example, there were over 578 types of tiles and 26 types of stone.” Because Disney was so specific on what it wanted, installers were often at times working with handmade tiles. “It would get tough sometimes because handmade tiles are not always uniform in size. You are inevitably going to come across tiles that are not completely straight, or the exact same size as the others,” explained Ballantyne. “This made it very difficult, because it can be such a tedious job that if one item is off size-wise, it throws the whole alignment out of whack.”

To deal with the difficulties of installing the handmade tiles, Continental depended upon the Laticrete® System. “To accomplish this work, we used tons of Laticrete products,” Ballantyne said. “Everything from Laticrete Hydro Ban® on the floors to Laticrete SpectraLOCK® PRO Grout. We needed the best, most high-performance materials on the market. I am no expert on the Laticrete catalog of products, but I am willing to guess for this project, we used most everything they make.”

To add to the complexities of Ballantyne’s work, the job had to be done while the park was operational. This meant closing off certain sections at a time while undergoing construction. “Obviously, anytime you are working in an operational area, especially where there are tourists that include children, there are time and safety constraints. Deadlines are pressing, as the park wants to be back up and running at 100% as soon as possible. So, we needed to work efficiently under the conditions.”

Originally, Ballantyne noted, another company’s installation products were specified. Continental Marble and Tile adamantly lobbied a total switch to Laticrete products, as the firm was highly aware of the necessity of getting the job done correctly within the rigid time parameters set before them. One of the key product characteristics of Laticrete materials that Ballantyne specifically noted was the strength of the adhesives.

“It was a huge help having Laticrete products available to us. When we adhered the tiles, they stuck right on to the substrate; there was no sliding or any movement whatsoever. I could not even imagine how much harder the job would have been if our tiles had been sliding around, especially dealing with those non-uniform handmade tiles. Because of the efficiency of the Laticrete products (e.g. Laticrete 255 MultiMax™ multipurpose thin set mortar — a high strength, non-sag, polymer fortified thin set mortar), we were able to speed up the installation process overall. We did not have to go back and check on a one-at-a-time basis that every tile was staying in place.”

A professionally executed tile installation is only half of the installer’s job, if the adhesives do not work at optimal levels, the entire project may be jeopardized. “It is great to get a high-profile job, like this one at Disney California Adventure,” said Ballantyne. “But no matter how confident we are in our own abilities, we need to be confident in the products we are using as well.” 

 

Disney Theme Parks

Job conditions:

• Enormous variety of tile and stone — 578 types of tiles and 26 types of stone from various manufacturers

• Installing handmade tiles with irregular edges and non-uniform sizes

• Work had to be done while park was operational

• Project needed to be completed on a fast track

Products used:

• Laticrete Hydro Ban®

• Laticrete SpectraLOCK® PRO Grout

• Laticrete 255 MultiMaxTM

Installer:Continental Marble and Tile, Corona, CA

Architect: Cunningham Group Architecture, Marina Del Ray, CA

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