It’s been a busy week, and we’re only a day or two in! So far, it’s finals week, packing to send the kiddo back East for two and a half months, getting ready to move, and next weekend is Navidad en el Barrio, where we put together food baskets (actually bags) and hand them out to families. We’ve done this for a few years now. It’s tiring, but fun. Helping others makes you feel good, and is an integral part of the holiday season for me.
I want to thank my Patreon supporters and my sponsor DVC Resale Market for their support and for making this column possible. You are all fantastic!
Walt’s 114th Birthday Celebrated in Chicago
Our own Dusty Sage was in Chicago with Disney Legend Floyd Norman and his wife Adrienne over the weekend to celebrate Walt’s birthday at the Walt Disney Birthplace. It was a weekend of events all over the city and the mayor even declared December 5th “Walt Disney Day” in honor of the events! The Chicago Tribune created a video of the dedication at the house and you get to see inside the house with Floyd himself speaking. So neat. Keep up the good work guys! Chicago Tribune Walt Disney 114th Birthday story HERE
Walt’s Offices Return Home!
There were also other people who knew and worked with Walt as well as other family members present, including Roy P. Disney, son of Roy E. Disney and grandson of Roy O. Disney, whom I’d first met years ago in Hawaii with his dad, when he was racing in the America’s Cup. His dad busted his leg, but he won that year! I remembered the name of the boat was Pyewacket, the cat from Bell, Book and Candle, but don’t remember why.
The offices are pretty small, so they set up an area just outside the double-glass doors, that Mark Eades says were set up by Michael Eisner when he had that office, and held a small press conference there. Richard and Elizabeth Sherman, Dave Smith and Marty Sklar were among those visitors in attendance, while Rebecca Cline (head of the Disney Archives) beamed with pride and excitement. However, they didn’t have her give a speech.
Robert Iger spoke first,: “Looking around his office reminds you of his devotion to his family, of his curiosity, of his relentless creative passion.” He praised Rebecca’s Archives team, and said one of his favorite items is “the master plan for what would become Walt Disney World in Orlando, including Walt’s extraordinary original vision for EPCOT.” He said that the permanent exhibit was “to serve as an source of inspiration for us, 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 people’s hearts. THAT is Walt Disney.”
Joanna Miller said that it was “kind of overwhelming to be back here in Grampa’s office…we did homework in there, we used to watch dailies down the hall, we would come on weekends and drive our Autopia cars around the lot – I can’t believe that Grandpa let 6, 7 and 8 year olds free on the lot! – It’s really very moving to be here. I think one thing that you take from this is that it’s a humble place. The design of the furniture is modern and was modern at the time, but …it’s not a big office, it’s a very cozy, humble place with things that he loved in it, and things that we remember from our childhood, the little wooden figures behind his desk that we all see on the lead-ins from his TV-shows, we’ve all been in his office. It’s not just us. It’s the whole world of people.” She thanked the Archives for bringing it back. We then went into the office in groups.
While we waited for our group to go in, I got to meet and talk to Bob Iger. He told me “Keep writing good stuff”. Yes, sir! I also got to see and talk to some other great folks I hadn’t seen in a while, so that was fantastic.
Then it was time for our tour. In the secretary’s office, we looked around at the real Oscars, Grammys, Emmys and other awards inside a wall cabinet and a replica of the special Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from Saving Mr. Banks atop the cabinet. Lucille’s desk had mostly original items save for the telephone and lamp, which were props from Saving Mr. Banks.
We watched a video describing the resurrection of the office, then, with a better sense of what we were about to experience, we entered the formal office.
It was so familiar, from all that time studying the offices when they were in the lobby of The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, but, of course, never seen from this point of view, right in the middle of the room. I hope they do a 360° of each office and put it on The Disney Parks Blog soon.
The stuff in these offices would make any member of the Adventurers’ Club green with envy. There were amazing knicknacks and historical pieces from all over the globe, and even from back in time – what looks like a trilobite fossil sits on a shelf near the entry door. I made a beeline for a certain treasure I wanted to find, and I found it in seconds:
We then moved into the working office, where the hand-drawn map of what was then called Disney World, with EPCOT in the middle, was pinned on the wall. The kitchen was off to the side; it could be opened and closed with the press of a button.
There was also a huge black and white photo of Disneyland, with new construction labeled:
Rebecca Cline did do a few interviews, talking about how it had been one of her dreams to bring back Walt’s office to its rightful place in office 3H in the Animation Building. Later, she unveiled a Fabulous Thing I’ll talk about in a bit. See? Beaming, like I said earlier. And why not? She and her team couldn’t have done a better job if Walt himself had been in charge. Incredible experience.
The next room will be used as a rotating gallery. At present, the displays featured the design work of Studio designer Kem Weber. My friend Doug informs me that his style is called “Brute Style”. Oh!
I have many more photos, but don’t know if they’ll bore you. Let me know. For me, this was a quasi-religious experience. I was essentially going through it thinking “Be cool, be cool, be cool, be cool, be cool” at myself because I was afraid I’d get weird or start crying or something, you know? If anyone had told me that I would be able to visit Walt Disney’s office, I would have administered a Field Sobriety Test. But thanks to people like Bob Iger and Rebecca Cline, it’s real and it’s a thing and it happened for me, and it’s going to happen for people who love Walt Disney and what he was all about for years and years to come. It’s wonderful! It’s going to happen for Cast Members on a lottery, 25 each Friday. It’s going to happen for VIPs, Legends and the like when they come to visit, as it should. And it’s going to happen when some of the most devoted Disney fans, D23 Gold members, come to do tours on the Disney Studio lot, which leads me to reiterate:
Just a Few Fabulous Things
D23 Gold Membership
That D23 Gold Membership that I mentioned last time is even MORE valuable now, right?
A Rare, Behind-the-Scenes Disney Photo
Something for the someone who has everything, but doesn’t have four million of them: DisneyPhotoArchives.com, where you can view and purchase any of 25 (so far) of their collection of 4 million or so archived, behind-the-scenes images, mounted and framed on fancy papers and all that. Click on the link for details.
A Wise Read
Here’s a long bit from my earlier review: Ugh, businessy self-improvement books, Disney or no. The jargon. The corporate-speak. “Thinking out of the box.” “Being a team player.” “Employing synergistic strategems for positive forward matrix relatables”. I just can’t.
Don’t worry. Jeffrey A. Barnes’ new book The Wisdom of Walt is NOT one of these. First off, it’s in English. Human English, not Business English (yes, it’s a thing!) nor Academic English (also a thing), even though Barnes does come from academia. It’s a self-improvement book without a bunch of chirpy slogans and mantras as well, which is also nice. So, there’s what it isn’t. Let’s talk about what it IS.
It’s a walk through the story of a man who had brain cancer and took the lessons of his unseen mentor, Walt Disney, to heart. It’s a workbook for the reader (I’d use a pencil if I were you) to do the same. It’s a journal of the best and worst you can be and do, but it’s not heavy-handed, (honest!) and all this, while telling stories about Walt Disney’s life experiences as examples to live by. This is the first book of its type that, after just about each chapter, I had to set aside to digest what I’d just learned. And I did learn, which is what I loved the most about The Wisdom of Walt. Jeffrey A. Barnes is an excellent teacher. It took me a lot longer to get through this than usual, but I repeated sections and chapters a few times. There were lessons that I found truly valuable here. Oh, and MiceChat’s own Garner Holt and Bill Butler wrote the foreword!
Tickets to Medieval Times (and hey, MiceChat Readers get a 40% DISCOUNT!!!)
MiceChat readers get 40% off adult tickets to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. My family had a fantastic time here. Great for a gift basket premium, gift for people who prefer experiences over objects and people who just love FUN! Information & tickets HERE
A Lifetime of Magic with DVC Resale Market! (Fab News is sponsored by DVC Resale)
Pre-pay your vacations by buying points for their favorite Disney Vacation Club resort, and save money by buying it through Fab News’ sponsor, DVC Resale Market. Check out some of the resorts and points available here. In case you missed it earlier this month, here’s their introduction video:
If you go to their website and poke around, you’ll actually learn a lot, and pretty painlessly too, about how all of this works. Also, they’re just really swell folks. I’m really stoked to be working with them. If you work with them I think you’ll be happy too, and so will whomever you buy those points for.
Next time, I’ll have even more Fabulous Things, Plus, Wookies, traumatized children and cake!
What do you think about the Walt Disney office returning to their home at the Studios? Would love to hear from you in the comments. And let me know if you’d like to see more photos from the event later in the week!
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