“Welcome to Mission Control, space travelers…” begins the opening remarks from Mission Control Director Mr. Johnson in the Mission to Mars attraction. The voice of Mr. Johnson belongs, coincidentally, to one of our own Disneyland Cast Members, George Walsh.
“Mr. Johnson” has been aboard the Mission to Mars attraction for many years. George has only been “on board” as a Disneyland cast member for a few months. His association with the Disney organization, however, has been a long one. He has voiced many narration spots for the Disney Studios over the years.
In addition to some educational films for the Studios, George has narrated several films promoting Mineral King and Epcot Center. George believes he may have narrated the last Epcot Center film on which Walt Disney appeared. So when the opportunity arose to do the voice of Mr. Johnson in Mission to the Moon — and later, Mission to Mars — George was well established as a Disney Studios narrator and a natural choice for the project.
George’s 34 years as announcer for CBS/ KNX radio involved him in a diversity of projects. He is well remembered for being one of the voices of Smokey the Bear for many TV and movie spots. One of his most memorable achievements was announcing for a radio program called Gunsmoke, starring William Conrad, currently the star of TV’s Jake and the Fatman. When the program went to an hour-long TV show, George did the lead-ins to the commercial spots for 20 years. He also narrated a popular radio show called Suspense, in which he was, as he puts it, “the spooky voice that told a tale, well calculated to keep you in suspense.” He did a series of programs with award-winning designer Edith Head. When the radio division of CBS went to an all-news operation, George became a newscaster until his retirement two years ago. And somewhere among all of his achievements over the years, he was named Announcer of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.
George didn’t always know that announcing would become his bread and butter. His first time “on the air” was in high school, where he took a public speaking course. He remembers that his first assignment was to describe “what I hope to become.” He said, “My classmates were giving speeches about becoming doctors, lawyers, ministers and so forth and I didn’t have the slightest idea what I wanted to become. So I decided to do something for laughs, just to get a grade in the class.” He put together a skit, using voice impersonations of famous radio personalities. He received a good grade for his efforts. A couple of weeks later, for $15 and two tickets to the Senior Prom, George brought his impersonations act to the prom floorshow, and the rest is history.
By the time George retired, he had spent half of his life with CBS and decided that it was time to try something else. So for a couple of years he “painted the house, pruned the roses, fixed up the old car and, one day last September, read in the newspaper that Disneyland was having a Job Fair. I came out to the Job Fair and left with a job.”
“The voice of Mr. Johnson is alive and well at Disneyland,” said George. “I’ve always been a Disney fan and now I have the pleasure of working here.” George and his voice can be found in the Disneyana shop on Main Street where, he said, “I fit in very well with all of the old things.”
From Disneyland Line, April 8, 1988