And by that I mean that, thanks to the glorious folks at D23, I found myself at the Walt Disney Studios a few weekends back walking through the animation building and trying to sneak into a sneak peak of Tangled. I’m mostly kidding on that last part.
The tour had two main parts — a knowledgable guide took us around the lot, and then let us loose for a few minutes near the end in the Archives, under the watchful eye of the recently retired chief archivist Dave Smith. I’ve been on the lot a few times before, and everyone who knows me would not be surprised that I knew a few of the stories they told, but it was a really fun tour all around.
We started out at Pluto’s Corner:
Near the front of the lot were some buildings that they had actually brought with them from their old location — they actually carefully tore down each building and then rebuilt the same buildings on the new lot. When I was younger I used to think it’d be cool if you could just take your house with you when you moved…and it seems Disney had the same idea!
We then went down to where the Animation building, and Ink & Paint buildings are. No pictures were allowed inside the buildings, but the walls are lined with art from their animated films with plaques that explain the film process. There’s also a somewhat-secret passage (just in the fact that they don’t really use it anymore) that connects the Animation building with the Ink & Paint building underground. It was made so that the clear cels wouldn’t get dust on them, or rained on.
We also walked by the ginormous sound stages, and the small piece of “backlot” (the area that looks like building fronts) that remains from years past. There used to be a neighborhood street, as well as the whole town where Zorro was set.
Next up we headed to the Archives — the place where Disney records all of their film/park/you-name-it history, and stores memorabilia they deem necessary to preserving the legacy. They actually have huge warehouses elsewhere (the room we were in was MUCH too small for parts of the plane from the LOST set!) but they did have some cool things lying about:
The main room is mostly filled with books, and clay models for the animated characters. They brought out this shiny gem for us to see though:
And Dave Smith was there to answer any questions anyone might have. He essentially came up with the idea of the Archives and started them from scratch when he was younger (in the mid60s)
This definitely rivaled the Warner Brothers Studio tour I did with my mom when I first moved out here. Unlike that tour though, Disney doesn’t usually do studio tours, so it was an extra special experience. I’m slowly making my way around all the studio lots 🙂