For years, visitors to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank would ask where Walt Disney’s office was located. Now they can actually see it.
The Walt Disney Company has restored his offices in their original location on the studio lot. And Monday morning, CEO Bob Iger formally dedicated them.
“Just looking around his office reminds you of his devotion to his family, his curiosity and his relentless creative passion,” Iger said at the ceremony.
The suite of offices, both Walt’s formal office and his working office, are on the third floor of the 3H wing of the original Animation building.
It’s available for viewing by employees, visitors and members of the D23 fan club. It will also be a part of tours of the Studio lot beginning in 2016.
“We put this permanent exhibit together as a source of inspiration for us and a reminder to have great ambition to take bold creative risks, to constantly innovate and push the limits of possibility,” Iger said.
Joanna Miller, one of Walt’s grandchildren, was on hand to see the newly restored suite.
“For me, I feel like a child, because that’s when we were there,” she said. “We did homework in there.”
After Walt’s death in late 1966, the offices were left untouched for a few years, until Dave Smith, the founder of the Walt Disney Archives, decided to document them.
Smith originally snuck into the offices to take photos, and then the company asked him to document what was in the office so it could reuse the space.
“It was really eerie for me to come into Walt’s office and do a complete inventory,” said Smith, who is now retired.
He documented everything from the books on the bookshelf to the legal pads with Disney’s handwritten notes.
After the documentation was completed, the items were put into storage in the Disney Archives. The formal office was turned into an executive office. The working office became a conference room.
The executive office was first occupied by Ron Miller, who eventually became president of the company in 1982. Michael Eisner took over the space when he was named CEO in 1984, and remained there until the Team Disney building opened. Then Roy E. Disney, Walt’s nephew, used the office for many years. After Roy Disney moved out, the suite was occupied by a variety of producers, the last being Marc Cherry.
Becky Cline, the director of the Disney Archives, has been working on the restoration idea for many years. Since this year is the studio’s 75th anniversary, she decided to seriously pursue it.
Her department put together a plan and a budget and presented it to Iger.
“He approved it, and we formally started the project in June,” she said.
Many of the materials, such as the desks, chairs and books are original.
“They were displayed in various forms at Disneyland and Walt Disney World and other locations over the years,” Cline said.
Her team assembled the materials, while studio crafts people restored the walls, lighting and even the kitchen.
“They even found original light switches and openers for the doors,” she added.
The piano in the formal office was frequently used by Richard Sherman who, along with his brother Robert, wrote many of the songs used in many classic Disney movies, such as “Mary Poppins,” and on attractions at Disneyland such as “It’s a Small World”
“Many times after a long day we would come in to that office and share a song with Walt and he would say ‘play it,’ and we knew what he meant,” Richard Sherman said in an interview Friday. “He meant play ‘Feed the Birds’ from Mary Poppins.
“That was his favorite song and it always brought a tear to his eyes,” he said.
Originally posted by Mark Eades at the Orange County Register