Never in a million years did I ever imagine walking the backlot streets of the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank. Yet, there we were over Christmas vacation in December 2011. It was all real, I couldn't stop pinching myself, I was awestruck! I could not believe my eyes or the ground that I walked upon. Just the mere thought of being where Walt Disney was, was enough for me.
Looking at the items he touched or dealt with was mind blowing. I was even able to hold.....are you ready for this? Yes, hold a REAL Oscar. Not only a real Oscar, but Walt Disney's Oscar for his Nature Documentary. My whole body tingled, I was shaking with excitement and boy, oh boy did I make sure my hands were clean. I don't know how many times I asked if I should wear gloves. The ever so friendly Cast Member, an Archivist, smiled and said it was okay, bare hands were fine. I was completely BLOWN away!
The whole experience began with us pulling up to the security guard booth at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, giving our names and receiving parking instructions and day passes. We were to proceed to the Zorro Parking garage. I was bouncing on my seat like a small child, I even took my seatbelt off, I was that excited. My family knew better than to tell me to calm down.
My daughter holding her guest pass for the day.
The entrance to the Zorro parking spot.
The Zorro parking garage.
Once out of the car, we proceeded to walk along the backlot sets on our way to the Frank G. Wells Archive Building....imagine my excitement. These lots are frequently used in movies and television shows and walking past these structures I sensed a familiarity in having seen these buildings in movies and shows myself. I was also captivated with their construction and design and how interesting it would be to be a part of such a team of artists. Wow! What a great job they have!
We finally arrived at the Frank G. Wells Archive Building. The studios were not very busy as it was over Christmas break, so the hustle and bustle was missing, but there were a few dedicated souls meandering throughout and all I wanted to do was to stop and chat with them about what their roles were at this very special place.
My son was intriged by the memorabilia and artifacts which he instantly recognized as part of some of his favourite movies.
In the main lobby of the Frank G. Wells Building, we found many display booths with props from pivotal moments and from shows and movies. Here are just a few.
I gazed at this display case for a long time. I love the movie, Mary Poppins and was completely captivated by this hat. I kept staring at all the tiny fragments of the hat, the fibres, the wilted flowers and couldn't believe that Julie Andrews had this on her head. If you compare the actual hat with the hat in the oval photograph, they are in the same position. That's Disney for you. I was mezmerized.
I never imagined I would be so close to this construction cap from the EPCOT ground breaking ceremony in 1979.
Directly opposite this hat display in the lobby of the Frank G. Wells Archives Building, was something that I never thought I would ever see in person, let alone stand beside, close enough to touch (which I have to admit I did).
Do you see this picture? Well, here is what I standing in front of close enough to touch, which I did.
Walt Disney's invention, creating three dimensional animations, called the Multiplane Camera.
Here is the original U.S. Patent for the Multiplane Camera.
How else would we have been able to really appreciate all that went on in Snow White, aside from the plot?
A quick walk down a shiny hallway led us into the Archives Room, filled with bookcases and glass shelves containing memorabilia. I will do my best to explain the contents of each display case, with the highlight event of this room being given the true honour of holding Walt Disney's Oscar for a Nature Documentary.
Here are early examples of Victorian Zoetropes which Walt Disney used to create movement from sequential drawings.
Here is the actual St. Paul's Cathedral snowglobe highlighted during, Feed the Birds scene, from the Mary Poppins movie and a photograph of Julie Andrews holding the snowglobe.
An original script for The Borrowers, with Walt's anecdotal comments in red. Is that amazing or what!
An actual cell animation used in the movie Peter Pan.
Walt Disney's actual business card.
Can you believe who these specs belong to? They're Walt Disney's eyeglasses. I was floored!!!!
Of all the originally produced Disney commercially eaten products produced now, the orange juice is still in circulation.
Now, take a good look at the photograph of Walt Disney and the camera he's holding. The camera on display beside the photograph is the one. Isn't that amazing? We were told Walt did some early filming with this actual camera.
Walt Disney's personal stationary pad.
Just of few of the awards and trophies that Walt Disney received. He was nominated for 64 Oscars and received a total of 22. He received three special awards from the Academy and one Honorary award as well.
A very, very special moment in my life that I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams. I was holding an Oscar that Walt received for a Nature Documentary.I felt as if was actually shaking Walt Disney's hand.
My husband Peter with the Oscar award.
Pamela holding the real Oscar award, presented to Walt Disney.
Original Disney merchandise.
Walt Disney's love of miniatures inspired him to purchase this little animatronic bird in a birdcage which in turn prompted him to create Audio-animatronics, such as the birds we see in the movie, Mary Poppins.
Sadly enough, it was time to leave the Archive room, but we took with us priceless memories that will forever be etched in our hearts and minds. Never had I been so very close and so very part of all the wonders of Disney. You could really feel Walt Disney's presence here and I found it very compelling.
One aspect of the tour that I will treasure the most is the level of respect that the Walt Disney Company employees have for Walt Disney's memory and how they make sure his vision is respected and continued. It's incredible how dedicated these employees are.
We are now in Animation Courtyard in between the Frank G. Wells Building and the Team Disney Michael D. Eisner Building. In the courtyard we see many plaques displaying major contributors which they call Disney Legends, in the Walt Disney Company. Here are a few pictures.
Spent a good while here reading all the plaques with the names of all the Disney Legends, and posing with some very popular statues. You'll see below.
The famous Roy O. Disney and Minnie Mouse statues that have been replicated at the Disney theme parks.
Need I say anything about this famously displayed statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse? You all know where this stands at the theme parks, right?
The Team Disney Michael D. Eisner building has been replicated in Walt Disney World and you should have seen my son's face as he was processing all of this.
We unfortunately did not have clearance to explore this building, but were allowed for a very brief time to explore the rotunda foyer, while the security guard pleasantly chatted about all the important people that pass through everyday. I was fascinated.
Monumental sizing, towering over us by at least five feet, in porcelain tiling photography. I was told that a lot of important meetings occur in the Team Disney Michael D. Eisner Building and that a lot of important, influencial people walk through the rotunda. I was so intrigued, I wished I could have been a fly on the wall here.
It was near noon and time for lunch, so we were thrilled to be able to dine at the real Commissary on the Walt Disney Studios lot. What a treat!
I took this photograph of a picture on a Commissary wall, of Walt Disney having lunch at the Commissary, and now I was going to dine here too. I even found the exact corner of the dining room. I had to. We decided to eat outside at the courtyard tables. I was also pleasantly surprised that the food offerings were varied and bountiful, pleasing all dietary needs and tastes and what was nice to see were very reasonable prices for the food, making it economical for staff to dine there. That's Disney for you and I love the Walt Disney Company.
They still serve Walt Disney's favourite....chili.
After lunch, we strolled over to the The Walt Disney Studio Company Store and my head was spinning with all the delightful souvenirs, and I even came out with a few little treasures.
The Walt Disney Studio Store awaited us in Christmas splendour. This store building used to be the animation training center.
When we came out of the store with our treasures, to our extreme left was the Hyperion Bungalow, which was one of the original buildings from the Studio's first location. At that time the Hyperion Bungalow used to house the Disney comics division and a lot of the planning for the building of Disneyland Park occured here too.
A very special little bungalow which brought a lot of joy to the world.
So began our walk along the streets of Walt Disney Studios, which I noticed do not run directly north or south. The buildings, however, do run north and south. If you looked at the studios from above, the buildings would look all lopsided. This was done on purpose in order for the artists to have access to natural light, that is what the north/south exposure provided. Also, beneath the streets, were tunnels and passageways allowing artists to transport their work from one building to the next without exposure to natural elements.
Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, California
On our way to a famous little corner.
Pluto's Corner. Do you see his paw prints? There are three, with the fourth paw....well you know what Pluto is doing right?
Of course we had to take a picture here.
This original Animation Building now houses the offices of various production companies and a new animation building named after Roy E. Disney was built across the street. The original Animation Building above still displays the history of its' original workings on the walls in the corridors. You'll see some photos of artwork and animation cells below.
My son recognizes characters King Louis and Mowgli from the movie the Jungle Book, one of his favourites.
Andrew's favourite characters, Woody and Buzz Lightyear from the movie Toy Story.
Our next stop was the Inking and Painting Building. Here are a few photos from there.
I would give my eye tooth to do this.
Some more good memories of our tour that day and an historical depiction.
The underground corridors that enabled artists to transport their work easily without worry of exposure to nature's elements.
A special moment for the cast and songwriter's Sherman Brothers of Mary Poppins and a very special moment for my son and husband.
Lucky squirrels that prance around the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.
Walt Disney inspired, created, invented and imagined and allows all of us today to leave our worries behind and make memories in a carefree environment.
What a great man!