Disney Archives opens its doors: rare public glimpse of Disney treasures


Here is the link: Disney Archives opens its doors: rare public glimpse of Disney treasures

On June 27, 2009, the Walt Disney Company opened the doors of its normally-off-limits archives to a small, lucky group of people who belong to the official Disney fan community, which is called D23 (in honor of the year 1923, when a young and ambitious Walt Disney moved to Hollywood to begin his storied career.)

Led by Dave Smith, Disney’s official archivist, the groups were able to tour both the grounds and backlots of Walt Disney Studios as well as the actual archives. “It was simply incredible,” said Dave Breiland, host of Mousetalgia, a Disney history podcast. “We were able to see and touch so much history. All with the world’s foremost authority on Disney history right there, willing to answer any question we had.”

After welcoming the guests, Smith demonstrated many important pieces of the company’s history, such as a humble notepad from the late '20s, which was one of the first commercial items ever licensed to use the Mickey Mouse character; a drawing of Mickey Mouse made by the hand of Walt himself (to counter rumors that Walt never actually learned to illustrate his own famous mouse); and a small mechanical bird toy that inspired Walt Disney to start creating animatronic creatures, first with a robbin in Mary Poppins, and then with an entire flock of tropical birds in his “Enchanted Tiki Room” show at Disneyland.

Guests were invited to roam and inspect the artifacts - and even hold and be photographed with Walt’s actual Oscar for “White Wilderness,” which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1958. The archives also contains shelves and shelves of books, cases of rare antique Mickey Mouse watches, drawers of rare animation cels and artwork, vintage Disney-licensed toys, and almost anything else Disney-related you might imagine.

Smith said he used to do antique shopping to procure items for the company’s archives, but doesn’t do so any longer, as storage space is limited, and the studio feels that they have enough representative products and materials from the various periods of the company’s history.

The archives are contained in the Frank G. Wells building on the studio lot, and inside the lobby were many more historical exhibits, including a display dedicated to souvenirs of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion attraction which turns 40 this year, as well as a case filled with hats from various Disney productions, including Mary Poppins’ straw hat, Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap, Tron’s helmet, and an original pair of Mickey Mouse Club ears.

Also on display was one of Walt Disney’s three multiplane cameras, which were used to create three-dimensional pans in Walt’s early animated films. A set-up from “Pinocchio” was on display, demonstrating how the cameras would hold the cels spaced apart, allowing the camera to focus on various layers giving the viewers the illusion of depth.

The studio tour also moved through the backlots and animation departments of the studio, finally ending in “Legends Plaza,” where each year, Disney names some of its most productive and famed employees and associates as “Disney Legends,” unveiling their handprints in bronze plaques at a special ceremony. This year, for the first time, the Legends ceremony will be moved from the Walt Disney Studios to Anaheim, CA, and it will take place as part of the first-ever D23 Expo, a convention Disney developed for its fans. The Expo will take place Sept. 10-13 at the Anaheim Convention Center.


I always have a good time when ever I get the want to go down to the Studios and Roam the Grounds, The buildings, eat at the comissionaries, spend hours in the archives, buying stuff at the CM/Employee Store, etc. Its a great place!