A Naperville resident’s passion for art landed him at job at the Magic Kingdom, where he helped make the park come alive and dreams come true for generations of children. From It’s a Small World, to Pirates of the Caribbean, to Jungle Cruise, the attractions at Disney World are the work of local artist Randy “RJ” Ogren.
1n 1970, RJ took a job as a monorail operator, shortly before getting a job painting the skins of human and animal figures throughout the Magic Kingdom.
He also painted many of the park’s murals, including those at the Haunted Mansion.
“Going to work at Disney and doing that as an artist literally changed my life,” said RJ. “I learned to mix colors so well that i could look at something now and tell what I needed to add to match a color. Once I got involve and got really good at it, I realized I was on different level that everything I learned in college was ok, what I learned at Disney was an education way beyond anything I could’ve ever done and it has been a key element of my life ever since.”
Meanwhile, his wife Suzanne took his spot working on the monorail, hoping to get her foot in the door for a job in entertainment. A year and a half later, she became a costumed character, performing as Sleepy, Biannca, and Mr. Shmee.
“You do have kind of a magic when you’re doing it,” said Suzanne. “There’s just a history about Disney that actually being out in that street and performing for people that maybe come there once in a life time is just something very, very special that you don’t forget very easily.”
RJ continues to paint murals for others at his home studio and in his spare time, is a motivational speaker, hoping to teacher others than when you wish upon a star, your dreams really can come true.
“The minute people find out I’m a former Disney artist, they’re very excited about what I did. I love to talk about it. I have a lot of funny stories. We did a lot of practical jokes [and] a lot of funny things happened in the shows,” said RJ. “It was the greatest thing I could’ve done to now say that I’m a former Disney artist.
In our second edition of “Naperville News Extra,” we’ll go more in depth with RJ’s story and find out how he met Walt Disney himself.
Tune in on Tuesday, July 16th at 8pm.
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