p. 03 p. 22

That man stomping through the vines and bamboo in boots and straw tropical hat could be mistaken for a plantation manager in some banana republic. But it's really Imagineering landscape genius Bill Evans, and the tropical paradise he now inspects was, a short 35 years ago, a sandy orange grove. Now, it is not only a source of great pride for Bill, it really is a jungle out there!

When he and his brother Jack designed the landscaping for Walt Disney's home in the 1940's, little did Bill Evans know that his association with Disney and his dreams would span the next four decades. After viewing the planting of the Holmby Hills house, including the route of the Lilly Belle, his one-eighth scale steam train, Walt hired the Evans brothers for an even bigger job – the landscaping of Disneyland. Bill was named director of Landscape Design at WED, where he worked closely with Walt in creating the magical environments – that exotic jungle, lush pine forests, and formal floral gardens, to name a few – for which Disneyland is world-famous.

After directing the botanical marvels of Disneyland, Bill turned to the greening of Walt Disney World. Although he retired in 1975 after receiving his 20-year pin, he has continued to work with WDI landscape architects on practically every new project, including EPCOT Center, Tokyo Disneyland, the Disney-MGM Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, and Euro Disneyland. Additionally, he has served on the Garden Advisory Board for Sunset magazine and completed several other notable projects (the three islands off Long Beach, where swaying palms and tropical landscaping disguise the presence of oil derricks, is just one of Bill's many designs).

Throughout the years, Bill has nurtured more than plants, for he has applied his "green thumb" to the careers of several Imagineers, who have blossomed under his tutelage. The WDEye spoke with five of Bill's proteges about the influence he has had over their lives.