Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California has a been a hub for movie magic for decades. In 1961, it was where P. L. Travers and Walt Disney met and butted heads over the rights of Mary Poppins. More recently, it was where much of Saving Mr. Banks was set, an upcoming film which shares that story with us. As you can imagine, getting the opportunity to tour the studio lot was like stepping back in time and then coming back again.
So Begins Our Walt Disney Studios Tour
Our tour of the lot began at the same place it did for P.L. Travers – in front of Stage A.
Our guide was Jeffrey Ebstein of D23, Disney’s Official Fan Club (free to join with two other membership tiers). He explained how many of the original studio buildings were moved over the hill, keeping the ‘feel’ in tact. It was also because materials wre so expensive during war time that it was cheaper to move buildings such as the Hyperion building over the hill than it was to build a new one. The old school building Walt had for his animators is now a gift shop full of Disney goodies.
Making Mary Poppins
Though Mary Poppins looks like much of it was set outside, it was actually all filmed on sounds sets. Stage 2 was even renamed the Julie Andrews studios for her work there as Mary Poppins and later in Princess Diaries. Beneath the floor boards also lay a hole-filled dirt foundation, remnants of the crater created for Armageddon and later used for a watery scene in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Stage 3 was built for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea but, as the squid scene looked too fake, they instead filmed at night. The screening room was where prestigious guests and press were invited to see current films. It’s also where an excited group of bloggers stopped for photos . . .
Then & Now
The original animation buildings. Walt knew the one thing animators needed is light. Therefore, every office was built to have its own window and the adjustable shutters continue to work today to let in the perfect amount of light at any time during the day. Walt’s office was also in this area. All the archives in his office remain as they were when he passed.
What’s this funny patch of grass? This is where Emma Thompson sat when she portrayed P.L. Travers building a mini-house to calm her nerves.
Summing Up the Walt Disney Studios Tour
Touring the Walt Disney Studios lot was liked taking a walk down memory lane, only they weren’t my memories. In watching Saving Mr. Banks again, I was able to tell my family, “I’ve been there. That’s the store I bought your souvenir in. We walked along that path.” And, now, I get to share it with you.
Saving Mr. Banks opens Dec. 13 (limited) & Dec. 20 (wide)!
Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD out now!
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney and in honor of the FROZEN movie. All opinions are my own.