From the time the Walt Disney Company started in 1923 until 1937, it moved offices across many locations in California as the growing number of employees called for more space. Finally, in 1937 Walt decided it was time to expand and take up a more permanent residence which led him to making a deposit on 51 acres of land in Burbank. It’s on these 51 acres that the Walt Disney Studios still reside today.
Over the last nearly 80 years the offices have expanded, studios have have been added and we saw the passing of one of the greatest men in entertainment. During that time Walt Disney Studios has managed to maintain some air of mystery, intentional or otherwise. It’s one of only two Studios in California that does not offer studio tours to the public, which is why it makes it all the mores special that I have been able to visit the campus numerous times on press events.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Walt Disney Studios
1. While “Mary Poppins” was filmed ENTIRELY on the lot (mostly in Studio A), you’ll also get a great visual tour of the Burbank studio lot in the newly released “Saving Mr. Banks” where you will often see Walt Disney peering down at P.L. Travers from his office window.
Although currently in use by another executive, Walt’s Office remains as much as it was when he occupied the space – including upside down books on the shelves, just as he left them.
2. The fascia of the seven dwarfs holding up the roof of the The Michael D. Eisner Building is an homage to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The success of that movie funded the purchase of the Burbank lot.
3. Walt left no detail out when planning the layout of the Walt Disney Studios campus around the animation process itself with the Animation Building in the center of it all. There are even underground tunnels connecting the building so artists could carry work without fear of damage from rain. Many of the classic Disney animated features including “Mary Poppins” (50 years ago!), “Dumbo”, “Peter Pan”, “Cinderella” and “Lady & the Tramp” were created and drawn in the Animation building.
4. Directly across from the Animation building is the theatre used for internal screenings of their films. You will recognize this as the place they realize Walt has not invited Travers to the premiere of Mary Poppins! Last week the world premiere of Saving Mr. Banks was held at this same theater.
5. The new Feature Animation Building, across the street from the current Studio, is where Walt planed to build a place called the Mickey Mouse Park. There were to be lifelike statues of Mickey and Donald, and guests could take pictures with their favorite characters and enjoy a train ride. Unfortunately, Walt’s ideas continued to grow he realized the space wasn’t large enough. Which led him to acquire 200 acres of orange groves in Anaheim, California. Those orange groves became the site of Disneyland.
BONUS! This is a cool side by side photo outside of the old Animation Building with the cast and filmmakers from both Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks taken this week at the premiere on the top and the #DisneyFrozenEvent bloggers last month during their tour of the lot on the bottom.
Be sure to check out our Sunshine Awards for Saving Mr Banks here.
Saving Mr. Banks
In select theaters December 13th
Everywhere December 20th
Buy tickets to Saving Mr. Banks on Fandango
Thank you to Disney for hosting me at the #DisneyFrozenPress event and providing a tour of the Walt Disney Studios Burbank campus. All opinions remain my own.