If you would have told me when I was younger that I would one day be on the Walt Disney Studios lot touring Walt Disney’s office, I’m sure I would have scoffed at the notion. 8-year-old Barb who had just experienced her first visit to Walt Disney World, loved ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, PETE’S DRAGON and FREAKY FRIDAY, (and just discovered STAR WARS and Marvel comic books,) never imagined that she would once get to follow the footsteps to where it first started.
Thanks to my partnership with Disney, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Walt Disney Studios and have an exclusive tour of Walt Disney’s office and a fun scavenger hunt experience around the lot – it’s magical where life takes us whether we once believed it would or not!
When you step onto the Walt Disney Studios lot, a sense of wonder and awe fills you as you see the stone carvings of the Seven Dwarfs and the statue of Walt Disney overlooking it all. This isn’t just a place where movies are made, it’s where the magic springs to life.
The current location is not where Walt Disney began bringing us animation classics. Our beloved Mickey Mouse and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” were created at Disney’s Hyperion Studios. In 1939, Disney Studios needed to grow and hence, the current location of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank was purchased. I learned that Walt Disney was into recycling and brought over many things from the Hyperion Studios including some buildings like the Hyperion Bungalow, which are still on the current Walt Disney Studios lot today!
Our pixie dust-filled experience began with a tour of Suite 3H located on the third floor of the “Old Animation Building” aka Walt Disney’s office. The office space has been carefully restored and preserved to celebrate the life of Walt Disney as a permanent exhibit space. Most of the items in the office are the actual furniture, piano (where the Sherman Brothers used to play,) knick-knacks, pictures, books, wall hangings and items that Walt Disney surrounded himself with during his office hours. When you walk in, it’s definitely like taking a step back in time!
Suite 3H includes a secretary’s office, Walt Disney’s working office, his formal office, a private area for relaxing, a kitchenette and a closet. Archivists used old photos to restore the space. They used as many original items they could find and created historically accurate reproductions for items that were lost or unavailable for display. Our guide shared that the team recently found some items in storage like chairs that were added later.
It’s so inspiring to see where the creativity began to bring us such wonderful films from the 1940’s to the present to love and enjoy. One of my favorite pieces of history found are a the conceptual map for the Walt Disney Resort and the map of Disneyland Park in progress displayed on the wall of Walt Disney’s working office. As a lover of literature, I was also particularly interested in seeing what books Walt Disney had on his office shelf. A few of the noteable titles I found include:
- A series of “Brittanica Book of the Year” books (a series my family collected, too!)
- Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla by John J. O’Neill
- Croatian Tales of Long Ago by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić
- Van Dyke and the Mythical City, Hollywood by Robert C. Cannom
- The Miracle Ahead by George Horace Gallup
- Poems by C.S. Lewis
- The American kaleidoscope by Lawrence Fuchs
The special nature of the tour was not lost on me. Our host had great enthusiasm for sharing anecdotes about items in the room and on Walt’s personal preferences, like the fact that he liked to regularly enjoy a V8 juice and cans of Spam!
This special tour is only open to Disney employees, cast members, and studio visitors (including D23 Gold Members.) That’s actually quite a limited group of individuals so I felt very honored to be able to have the opportunity to explore. Hope you get the opportunity to visit someday, too, if it’s something you are wishing upon a star to do… and until then, I hope you enjoyed a glimpse inside!
After our tour of Walt Disney’s Office, we had the chance to complete a Peter Pan-themed scavenger hunt (in honor of the upcoming Blu-ray release of PETER PAN on 6/5.) We were “Team Wendy.” I won’t give away too many details of the hunt as we were told there are sometimes similar ones for employees and guests and I don’t want to be the one to give the spoilers… but I can share that it was super fun to have the chance to explore areas of the Walt Disney Studios lot that I’ve never seen before and learn new facts about the place.
Like did you know there are underground tunnels that connect the Animation Building to the Inking and Painting building? These passageways were used by the artists and they helped protect their art from adverse effects from weather when they were delivered between the buildings.
We raced between buildings looking for clues like shadows of Peter Pan and bottle of Pixie Dust, while pausing for a moment to admire the fun Disney touches around the lot like the iconic castle silhouette on the wall and the aptly named street signs like “Minnie Avenue,” “Dopey Drive,” and “Snow White Boulevard.”
We had special tasks to create classic PETER PAN poses or scenes, trivia challenges, puzzle building and lots and lots of clues to guide us through the maze of buildings as we searched for answers or discovered the next challenge. I discovered I needed to brush up on my PETER PAN trivia a bit but our team placed a decent 3rd in the competition and we had awesome fun exploring the lot.
Stay tuned as I’ll be bringing more behind-the-scene views in celebration of the PETER PAN Anniversary Edition release on Blu-ray soon!