There’s Still A Lot of the Story Left To Tell-The Walt Disney Archives #TomorrowlandEvent
“It seems to me that we have a lot of story left to tell” – Walt Disney
Last week I had the unique opportunity to step back in time when I had the privilege to visit the Walt Disney Archives located at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. I had dreamed of the moment when I would someday walk onto these hallowed grounds and be in the place where Walt brought Disney to life, and his legacy and dreams continue to live on. But actually being there, looking up and seeing Walt’s office, and feeling his presence all around me, there may have been a tear or two or three or four shed.
The collections of the Walt Disney Archives cover all aspects of Disney from everything from Walt Disney the man to motion pictures, television to theme parks, consumer products, publicity, publications, as well as audio and video recordings. We of course were there to find out more of the background story of Disney’s “Tomorrowland” and I personally was on a mission to see if the famous 1952 box found inside the basement of the old animation building at Walt Disney Studio and served as Brad Bird’s inspiration for the film.
We couldn’t have had a better guide for the morning than Kevin who has worked at the archives for many years. His depth of knowledge and passion and love for Disney was apparent.
Of course the first thing we all wanted to know was just how the Disney Archives come to be? The Walt Disney Archives had its beginning in 1970. Kevin explained to us that no other company re-uses its past as much as Disney does. Disney is constantly delving back into things they did years and years ago and using them in projects they are working on today. From Mickey Mouse to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, characters and stories introduced decades ago continue to be celebrated.
We were able to experience just how true that was first hand as we saw the all new Walt Disney Archives display which celebrates 75 years of the Disney Studios. This exhibit explores the Disney Studio’s rich legacy. In one case we saw historic materials and equipment used in sound stages, offices, and other facilities tell the behind-the-scenes story of the Studio’s operations and the people who worked there. Another case showcased an array of props and costume pieces from some of the most beloved films and shows produced on the 51-acre lot.
And then it was time to enter what is known as the Reading Room. From the first step through the door, you could feel Walt’s presence all around you. The first thing you notice is re-creation of an animator’s office, complete with an authentic desk, from 1940 . Right beside the desk is a life-sized Walt there to welcome you. The original furniture and memorabilia help to bring the best of the then-new studio to life.
Ever present in the Reading Room were many artifacts from the 1964 World’s Fair, including posters, merchandise and an actual doll from “It’s A Small World”, which plays a pivotal role in “Tomorrowland”. The Walt Disney Company had a significant presence at the 1964 World’s Fair. Many people are still surprised to learn that some of the most iconic Disney attractions made their world debut at the fair, including Great Moments With Abraham Lincoln and It’s a Small World After All, which were later relocated to Disneyland where they remain today.
Some of the items were also able to see that are not normally out on display were the Ticket for the Press Preview of Disneyland from 1955, a parking pass from Disneyland dated July 17, 1955 and the actual first Disneyland ticket every purchased which was bought by Roy O. Disney’ who paid a whole $1.00! Our guide shared with us the very first version of the Disneyland ticket book that guests purchased for $2.50 and explained the A, B, C, D, and E ticket options that were used and that in 1982 Disney decided to discontinue the use of them.
Throughout the Reading Room were untold treasures. From a desk that had a Mickey Mouse stained glass lamp to countless books to Mickey Mouse paintings as well as a table that featured early audioanimatronic test heads, to countless memorabilia that all took you back to a time gone by.
As you strolled through the room, everywhere you looked there were constant reminders of the always changing Tomorrowland in Disneyland and of Walt’s words about the vision behind the ever evolving land of the future, and the hints that were all around us, that became the inspiration for the movie.
Ever get to hold an Oscar? Each member of our group got the chance to hold the golden man and of course thank the Academy. To view and actually hold an original Oscar Award from the true-life adventure film, “White Wilderness” and the answer to the question is “Yes! “ It is heavier than you think it will be.
No visit to the Walt Disney Archives would be complete without a stroll through the Walt Disney Studios lot. Just like everything Disney does, it’s all about the storytelling and the attention to details. The Disney Legends Plaza, located between the Team Disney: The Michael D. Eisner building and the Frank G. Wells building, is the central hub for the Disney Legends award and pays homage to its recipients.
Throughout the courtyard you will find plaques and handprints of the people that have made a lasting impact in the Disney Universe. People like Tom Hanks, Julie Andrews, and Marc Davis, Roy Disney and Robin Williams just to name a few have been immortalized here.
The main building, Team Disney Burbank, features the Seven Dwarfs holding up the roof as a nod to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which held up the studio due to its tremendous success.
In the center of Legend’s Plaza is The Partners Statue that is located in every Disney Park around the world is also on display here. But this is the only one where you can actually pose right next to Walt and Mickey as The Partners Statues all located in the Disney Parks are all elevated.
And just what was in the “1952 Box”? Well that will have to remain a mystery, at least for another few days but if you tune in tomorrow, I may be able to sharea little more about how a mysterious box from 1952 became the inspiration for “Tomorrowland” when I bring you my interview with Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof with you.
“What if everything Walt Disney kept in that box was the beginning of a whole other world?”
Missed my interview with the one and only George Clooney, who plays jaded scientist, but one time dreamer Frank Walker-just click here to read all about this genuine, funny, humble and all around good guy.
Read all about Britt Robertson, who stars opposite Clooney as the optimistic and hero of “Tomorrowland” Casey here.
Get ready to be dazzled-The Disneyland ® Resort, home to the original Tomorrowland is turning 60 and their Diamond Celebration starts this week. Learn more about the Disneyland Diamond Celebration and their special movie sneak peek and “Tomorrowland” movie exhibit here
Want to learn more about Tomorrowland?
Visit the interactive Take Me To Tomorrowland Site
Like TOMORROWLAND Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyTomorrowland
Follow Disney Pictures on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyPictures
Visit the official TOMORROWLAND website: www.Disney.com/Tomorrowland
Don’t forget to follow #TomorrowlandEvent to stay find out all the latest
“What if there was a place, a secret place where nothing was impossible? A miraculous place where you could actually change the world- wanna go?”
“Tomorrowland” begins to change the world May 22.
I have been invited by Disney to cover the Tomorrowland Event. All expenses have been paid for by Disney but all opinions my own.