Walt Disney’s Studio Office Restored to Original Location by Disney Archives

(From left) Walt Disney’s granddaughters Michelle Lund, Jennifer Goff, and Joanna Miller with Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger cutting the ribbon at the dedication for restoration of Walt’s office Suite on December, 7, 2015.
(From left) Walt Disney’s granddaughters Michelle Lund, Jennifer Goff, and Joanna Miller with Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger cutting the ribbon at the dedication for restoration of Walt’s office Suite on December, 7, 2015.

In a ceremony inside the original Animation Building, the Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, joined by members of the Disney family, dedicated Walt Disney’s newly restored studio office suite on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank today. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Burbank studio, the Walt Disney Archives restored the space to include Walt’s formal and working offices, along with original furnishings, some items from his collection of miniatures, awards, and his piano.

“We put this permanent exhibit together to serve as a source of inspiration,” said Iger during the ceremony, “a reminder to have great ambition, to take bold creative risks, to constantly innovate and push the limits of possibility, to relentlessly pursue perfection, and to tell fantastic stories that touch peoples’ hearts. That was Walt Disney.”

Walt Disney’s granddaughters Joanna Miller, Jennifer Goff, and Michelle Lund were on hand for the event, along with special guests including Richard Sherman (composer of Mary Poppins, “It’s a Small World,” and many Disney classics), Kathryn Beaumont (the voice of Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Wendy in Peter Pan), and former head of Walt Disney Imagineering Marty Sklar.

In 1970, when Disney Legend Dave Smith founded the Walt Disney Archives, Walt’s furnishings from his offices were removed, and, for the last 45 years, they were safely cared for by the staff of the Walt Disney Archives. Through exhibitions and loans from the Archives, millions of guests have seen special displays of items from the office at Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida and in museums around the country.

This new, permanent exhibit is dedicated to the creative genius of Walt Disney and presents the history of the man and the company he founded through artifacts and images. There will also be rotating exhibits on various Disney subjects to celebrate anniversaries, films, and events throughout the Company’s history from 1923 to the present day. The first exhibit is dedicated to Kem Weber, the architect who designed the look and feel of the Studio lot, which opened in 1940. Weber also designed furniture for the Studio, and his designs, along with concept artwork, will be showcased for a limited time.

Walt Disney’s office will be open to Disney employees, cast members, and studio visitors. In 2016 it will be added to tours of the Studio lot and Archives that D23: The Official Disney Fan Club regularly offers to its Gold Members.

As you can see from the photos it was lovingly restored and is a wonderful opportunity to see the offices just as they were when Walt and his artists created so many classics we still love today.

In my book this tour is the best argument so far for joining D23 as a Gold Member. Of course, only if you plan to take the archives tour. I still don’t understand why the company once wanted to charge its fans to be part of the fan club. At least there is a free level of D23 now.

I also have to admit that while I understand the gesture of restoring Walt Disney’s original office suite, I am not happy it comes at the expense of theme park guests who loose the chance to see those offices while visiting Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I thought that the offices helped strengthen the connection between the parks and their founder.

The restored offices will now do the same for the studios, but it’s a vastly smaller group of people who will get to experience it each year. For what it’s worth, this is the same argument I have against the Walt Disney Family Museum being located so far away from Disneyland. If I ran the Disney Archives or WDFM, I’d want to maximize exposure to the legacy Walt left us all, not restricted access to a few

What do you think? Do the offices belong at the studio or ‘on loan’ to the parks where more people can see them?

(Photos courtesy Disney)

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