My Visit to the Walt Disney Studios (Part 2)
Meet me at the corner of Dopey Drive and Mickey Avenue.....
This is one of the most photographed landmarks on the Walt Disney Studio lot. It was actually a prop used for the 1941 movie, The Reluctant Dragon. Check out this movie because you can actually see how the Walt Disney Studio operated back during that time period. In this movie, there is an actor who is trying to pitch a story to the studio. The viewer actually gets a behind the scenes tour of the Walt Disney Studio. The movie was a way for Disney to show the public the happenings at his studio.
There is a fire hydrant located to left of the iconic street sign. Our tour guide pointed out a couple fun elements at this famous corner.
If you look closely you also see some paw prints that were cleverly placed. Most overlook this design element since it just looks like dents on the pavement. As you see in the photo above, it can be covered with debris or water. I love that even at the Studio, Pluto's paw prints are evidence Disney's attention to detail.
The buildings and landscape pretty much remain how they looked when it first opened in 1940. Our tour guide told a story of how Walt Disney's father, Elias Disney, was always in an entrepreneurial mood. Elias had had several failed business adventures. He had expressed to Walt about how to design of the studio in case it did not succeed. If you look at the architecture and design of these buildings, you can see how it could easily be used as medical buildings. Thank goodness The Walt Disney Studios was a success but if it had not, the lot could easily have been converted into a huge hospital facility.
When they filmed the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, they were able to shoot the exterior scenes on the Studio lot since it had not changed much. If you watch this deleted clip, you can see how easy it was for the film production to shoot a movie scene that really could have happened as shown here.
We walked around to to see Stage A. The scene from Saving Mr. Banks where PL Travers (played by Emma Thompson) arrives at the studio and enters through these doors was filmed here. The studio lot has an art deco and timeless feel to it.
We were able to go inside the main Theater very briefly. It is pretty plush inside with comfortable red velvet seats. The lobby has these glass murals where if you look closely, you can see a nod to Walt Disney's Fantasia. There are also a variety of Disney memorabilia located in the glass displays. It is still used to for a variety of both private and public screening events.
While at the main Theater, we ran into some of the Studio projectionist who let us peek into their work space. Talk about a technology both old and new. One of my kids continues to be involved in video production so it was such a bonus to see the projection room with all the equipment. They were so kind to tell us about their work and tools of the trade.
The most fascinating note was pointing out that the Walt Disney Studios is one of the few remaining production studios that own a 70 mm projector. They told us that when a film maker like Quentin Tarantino shoots in 70 mm, he will usually call on the Walt Disney Studios to see if he can come over to review his dailies there.
Those projection guys were full of so many stories like that. One of them had been there for thirty plus years and said his dad was there before him in the same role, too. If that projection room could talk about all the different events and people who had come through there, that would make for an interesting book.
We had to cut our walking tour short because we had exclusive lunch reservations at The Rotunda. It is the executive dining room located in the Team Disney Building. I'll share my lunch adventure at the Walt Disney Studios in Part 3.