Monday, August 15, 2011

The Magic of Walt Disney Studios

One of the side-benefits of knowing smart, talented, creative people is that they often have really cool jobs. Such is the case with a member of our Barracks family who is employed by The Walt Disney Company. She graciously volunteered to provide our group with a post-Comic-Con tour of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.

On the morning of Monday July 25th we packed up our things and piled into several cars headed from San Diego to Burbank. The feelings of sadness as we said good-bye to our LOSTie home-away-from-home intermingled with excitement for the journey ahead. The two-hour-plus ride featured a healthy dose of LA-style traffic and showcased the benefits of social networking as applied to congestion avoidance. Being a David Lynch fan, I was delighted to spot a Mulholland Drive street sign on the way.

Shortly after noon we pulled up to the studio lot, presented our credentials, parked and reunited with our host and the rest of our group. First order of business was lunch at the studio commissary. The food selection and quality was fantastic, much better than the offerings I'm used to (avoiding) at my own workplace.
Below photo courtesy @BonnieJGreen

We then started our tour of the studio at the Michael D. Eisner building. (Full disclosure: yes I am using Wikipedia to jog my memory on some of the building names!) The facade features the seven dwarfs appearing to hold up the roof.

Laid out in front of the dwarfs is Disney Legends Plaza which contains several statues, benches, and walls of plaques identifying renowned Disney executives, artists and actors associated with the company.

From there we passed by the Frank G. Wells building, decorated with an image of 2 movie reels.

Just walking through the lot holds a lot of interest; a tall water tower featuring Mickey Mouse watches over the day-to-day hustle and bustle of a working film and television studio. Even the storage warehouses are adorned with Disney imagery!

Next we went inside the building which housed many renowned Disney animators from the 1940s through the 1980s. Both sides of the main hall are adorned with beautiful stills and concept art from dozens of Disney features. I could easily have spent a couple of hours examining each piece of art in detail.

The building's offices are currently assigned to a mix of people across both ABC and Disney. Our group was especially excited to see two familiar names on the directory. (Hint: The names are Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.)

Across the way from the (original) Animation building is the Fantasia theater. I believe this is where Disney periodically holds screenings which can be attended by employees and their families.

The excitement level, already sky-high, rose several notches as we made our way past some of the larger soundstages toward the back edge of the lot. Stage 2 is dedicated to Julie Andrews -- both Mary Poppins and The Princess Diaries filmed within.

Around the corner from these soundstages lay the holy grail of our Disney visit. Unfortunately its awesomeness is too immense to be contained within these pages, so it will have to wait for a later, dedicated post!

Our first post-grail visit was the ABC studios building (built after Disney's purchase of ABC) where the halls were brimming with the storied past and present of that network's television programming.

Our final stop was the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, where much of today's feature animation takes place. Under the sorcerer's hat is an office previously used by Roy Disney; we had the privilege of entering the room and learning a bit about its history. We also took a peek inside a screening theater (where the infamous "notes" are written), checked out some of the cool offices within, hung out at the coffee bar, sat in some funky spherical chairs with a Fahrenheit 451 vibe that have interesting acoustic properties, and even were able to admire artwork from some of Disney's current releases.

The infamous Disney attention to detail is apparent in the fence which surrounds the studio.

And with that our tour to came to a close, another highlight of an amazing week. From Burbank we set off for our final California destination -- Santa Monica.

No comments:

Post a Comment