This week the film production Saving Mr. Banks moved in and began filming in various locations throughout Disneyland park. The film tells the behind the scenes story of how the film Mary Poppins came to be. Hollywood heavyweight, Tom Hanks, will be playing the role of Walt Disney opposite Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers and Colin Farrel as Travers Robert Goff.

The Pumba lot along Disney Way was closed and used for Cast and Crew parking for the film.

SMB, Saving Mr. Banks

This was a rare opportunity for Disneyland guests to see an actual Hollywood film being shot inside the berm. The film required large portions of the park to be redressed to resemble what the park looked like in the 60’s as closely as possible. In order for this to happen, sections of the park were closed for hours at a time to allow large scale day shots inside Walt’s original Magic Kingdom. The last film given this level of access to the park was 40 Pounds of Trouble starring Tony Curtis.

The front gates, without pumpkins.

filming of Saving Mr. Banks staring Tom Hanks

Since Disneyland is open every day of the week, a very careful dance was choreographed to assure that the shooting areas were kept free of any modern looking visitors to the park. Extra security was brought in, Cast Members were assigned to stand behind ropes and inform day guests of what was happening.

Disneyland Castle

Shooting inside Fantasyland required the entire area behind the Castle to remain closed. From Big Thunder Ranch, to the front of the Castle, to the Mad Tea Party, all was roped off for the first half of the day on Tuesday.

Filming Saving Mr. Banks in Disneyland

From time to time, extras, dressed in period costume, were herded from the shooting areas to backstage, allowing glimpses of the wonderful costumes.

vintage decoration and clothing during film shooting in Disneyland
Notice the tournament style banners in front of the castle?

We wonder how expansive the shots will be inside Fantasyland, since the land was completely redone in 1983 and hardly resembles anything from its early tournament style days.

extras from the film, Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland

extras from the film, Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland

extras from the film, Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland

extras from the film, Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland

Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland

extras from the film, Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland

extras from the film, Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland
Look at how awesome that blue dress with the green bow is! There are a lot of really great period costumes.

Later in the week, the production moved to the front of the park. They were shooting a scene in which P.L. Travers is driven to the front gate of the park and greeted there by Walt. To pull this shot off, all but a few turnstiles off to the left were closed to day guests. The rest were dressed up, filled with period costumed extras, and used in the scene.

Saving Mr. Banks
Grip trucks were parked to the right of the entrance just outside the esplanade.

Filming Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland

Grip trucks for Saving Mr. Banks

Film Logo, Saving Mr. Banks

While day guests were kept far, far away, the shooting commenced.

Saving Mr. Banks filming at Disneyland, California

Saving Mr. Banks filming at Disneyland, California

Saving Mr. Banks filming at Disneyland, California
This Cast Member was so friendly and adorable.

Front Gate filming at Disneyland of Saving Mr. Banks

vintage vending carts at Disneyland during filming
Extras manning the old popcorn and cotton Candy carts
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks
Suddenly, Tom Hanks came walking up dressed as Walt!


Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks
Tom graciously waved to the crowd and in an instant was gone.
Massive camera rigs were then moved backstage.
Some of the set dressings were still up when guests were allowed back into the area
They even had the old style Mickey Mouse balloons!

It will be very interesting for Disneyland fans to see the movie when it is released in 2013. The park has changed so much since 1955, it will be neat to see how they bridge that gap.

We are interested to hear your thoughts. Are you looking forward to this film? Do you think Tom Hanks has the right look to play Walt?

We have a full In The Parks update for you today as well – HERE

  • mratigan

    its very creepy to see the props,extras,and Walt in modern times
    i cant wait for the film
    it looks real good to me

  • crmwed

    I think Tom Hanks is the perfect combination of looking enough like Walt, and having the acting skills to pull off the role. I can’t wait for the film to come out. Not only because I’m sure it will be very well done, but just to see how they dress up the park to make it look like it used to. Not to mention what peeks it may give us backstage (Walt’s Apartment perhaps?)

    Thanks for the pictures! Very cool!

  • rstar

    I think they will use a combination of live film and CGI to pull off the look of the park. As for Tom Hanks, my first thought is that Walt was so well known, as is Tom, that I’m not sure it will work. I almost wish they would have found a less known actor so I wouldn’t keep looking at him and thinking “that’s Tom Hanks”. But I think I will be able to get past it enough to enjoy the movie.

  • I wasn’t sold on Tom Hanks as Walt Disney either. But he’s a very skilled actor and I’m sure he’ll do a fine job. Actors are like a box of chocolates . . . you never know what you’re going to get. πŸ˜‰

    Really fun to see the period costumes and how they are trying to redress everything to be retro. A VERY hard thing to do. They were filming at the front gate which looks NOTHING like it did when the park was young. The turnstiles look different, the coverings look completely different, they might as well have shot that scene at a Six Flags or on a soundstage because it really has nothing to do with Walt’s Disneyland. The same is true of Fantasyland. How on earth will they make that look like it did in the early 60’s? I wonder if they are just taking creative license and letting a lot of the current park make its way in and just pretend it’s old.

    Will be very interesting to see in the theaters if only to try and spot all the mistakes. πŸ˜‰

    • lctom1

      Dusty, I hope that any inconsistencies are more anachronisms than mistakes. I’m more willing to forgive the former.

  • WheresMickey

    Can’t wait to see this film!

  • WendyD

    My family and I were in the park earlier this week. On Tuesday during Park opening (early hour) they were shooting the movie on Mainstreet USA. All people coming in the park were detoured backstage on either side of Mainstreet to get to the hub. It was cool as I had never seen back there in person. I started to take pictures but was quickly told no pictures aloud.

  • Rongo

    It’s funny how many little details they put in – the DISNEYLAND letters over the anachronistic turnstiles, the attraction posters along the floral Mickey fence, the tournament banners in front of the snow-covered castle. Can’t wait to see if they do some CGI or use clever camera angles, or if they just split the difference by allowing some of today’s Disneyland to show through.
    I think there are going to be a lot of pedants tearing these scenes apart when they appear; I prefer to look at it the way I look at the park today: it’s still the same place where they made historic magic and nothing can change that.

  • JCSkipr79

    Dusty, all I can imagine is that they will film Fantasyland in teh courtyard which is still vintage 1955. I REALLY hope they keep the drawbridge banners after filmimg. They are so much better than the new ones and keep the vintage feel of the park!

  • PirateLover

    Can’t wait to see the movie! I really like the late 60’s Lincoln Continental parked at the front gates as the VIP car. I have the same car and drive it to Disneyland all the time.
    The old Mickey ballons are cool too..brings back memories of long ago…

  • Prof. Emelius

    I am looking forward to this film so much – I think Tom Hanks is the ideal person to play Walt – I don’t think anyone else could possibly do it. I plan to be there on opening day to see the film. I am glad they decided to narrow in on just one story of Walt’s life, since there are so many, and to cover it all in a two hour film would be impossible. To zero in on this one time period is a great idea, and this is the perfect behind the scenes story to cover, filled with much drama. I just hope the film lives up to my exceedingly high expectations.

    • Prof. Emelius

      Forgot to mention – I love the period color banners in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle – The need to bring them back permanently – Also the Oval letters above the turnstiles – miss them, but they sort of clash with the new Victorian design of the roofs – perhaps if they were a different color than yellow they would work.

  • sergiocaCador

    gosh! I got goosebumps! can’t wait

  • nanababe23

    I can’t wait to see it either, but the strollers they are using, are not the strollers that Disneyland used back in the days. They were not even the strollers they used 5 years ago.. πŸ™‚

  • scarymouse

    Very cool ! I am having flashbacks from when I was much younger….. reminiscing is a nice benefit of getting old. Can’t wait to see the film.Brings back many great memories.

  • DisWedWay

    I was trying to see if they used one of Walt’s signature wide Mickey Mouse ties he often wore and had made Special for him.

  • Tanthus

    More people needed to be smoking and a little thinner. (I have home movies from that year) But the clothing was about right.

    Tom hanks will be fine. He can “morph” into any role (usually looks like Tom Hanks though). There are very few actors can really change there look AND become someone else and I can’t think of one that could pull off changing themselves into Walt Disney. Tom Hanks can at least become Disney in acting even though he can’t become him in looks.

  • jcruise86

    Thanks, Norm! I wanted to stop by and see the mid-60s guests, but your photos were the next best thing.

    So as the voice of Woody and as Walt himself, Tom Hanks joins Julie Andrews as one of the Disney legends. If they make a 60th anniversary film to be shown outside of Abe Lincoln’s theater, He’s the guy to host it, as Steve Martin did for the 50th.

  • Joshnyah

    Wonderful pictures and information. This will be a great movie I love anything Walt. I really like seeing the props πŸ™‚ thank you.

  • Not My Real Name

    Yeah, Hanks doesn’t look like Walt, but he didn’t look like Jim Lovell in Apollo 13, either. I think the producers decided to go with acting talent rather than appearance, which I think is better. According to the director is John Lee Hancock, who has directed The Alamo, The Blind Side, The Rookie and co-wrote Snow White and the Huntsman. I think he’ll do a good job.

  • mainejeff

    Hanks looks much more like Walt Disney than I thought that he would! Maybe it’s because he’s really almost age appropriate now.

    I had always hoped that someone would do a biography style movie about Walt Disney.

    Not sure acting wise, but my list of look-alikes at varying ages:

    Shia LeBeouf
    Joseph Gordon-Levitt
    James Franco

  • 4Apples4Disney

    I’m actually really looking forward to this. I appreciate the look at the past, Walt Disney, and the values that have truly shaped and blessed our nation.

  • flayrah

    This is wonderful. I would have gladly paid for the privilege of being an extra, just to go back and ‘see’ Disneyland in the 60’s. I would like to be one of the cart vendors, with that cool hat…. Of course eventually I’d have to come back out into the real world….. πŸ™

    I hope there’s at least one tour guide in the movie wearing the checkered skirt, knee socks, vest and riding cap. Or the scary 60’s character costumes. Maybe CGI can re-create the House of the Future (exterior). I can’t stop thinking of the possibilities.

    One thing that probably won’t be in the movie because it will block camera angles, are the crowds that gathered around Walt Disney. He could never walk around his park during operating hours without being mobbed by fans and autograph seekers. His favorite time of day was before opening, when he had the park all to himself. Also one reason he wanted the apartment, so he could enjoy the park without having to deal with crowds.

  • Gullywhumper

    I really like the old Disneyland letters above the turnstyles, I hope they keep that!

  • QPerth

    I would be surprised if the filmmakers CGi’s every little detail to make it more like very early, (and basic fixtures of) Disneyland days. I think they will dress up what they can easily, then leave the rest. The general movie going public wont really be able to point out the mistakes, just Disneyland aficionado’s, which in reality is a small percent of the visitors to Disneyland and film goers. I do hope they remove the snow and other Castle adornments at least. Even though I’m sure a small portion of the film will be scenes set in Disneyland, it will still be really cool to see, and think the story will be an interesting one. And the Cast is fantastic, so I can’t wait to see it!

  • ralzap

    You have to give Tom alot of credit. Not type casted. That is what makes a big star. AKA Johnny Depp. U2, and others.

  • whitestrat

    I’ve always loved the oval Disneyland letters above the turnstiles, it would be awesome if they kept them up there. They should also keep the banners in front of the castle.

  • SpectroMan

    Those period touches are bittersweet. I hope some of them cause guests to ask where they are now and make management think about reinstating a few!

  • Aladdin

    I can’t wait to see the topic “What parts of of todays DL slipped into Saving Mr. Banks?”

    One of my main concerns is if Tom Hanks can pull off sounding like Walt Disney. Tom’s voice is naturally high pitched than Walt’s. This is the one thing that will likely throw this movie off, more than anything else. It’s a lot different for an actor to pull off acting the part of a fictional character, than a real person that most all of us have see on tv,hosting his own TV show, whether it be for the first airing in the 50’s and 60’s , or on reruns in the 70 and 80’s, or on youtube today.

  • almandot

    I wish they’d transformed the whole park and left it open in “retro” mode the whole week =D

  • PecosBill
  • While scanning down all the photos my first thought was “why all the pictures of people coming out of the castle gate?” Then I realized that they were all in period dress!

    My first visit to the park was in ’62, and my most memorable ones were ’65 and ’71 (right after Roy died, all the flags were at half staff). Those shots of people on the drawbridge look just like all my photos of those visits so it just looked “normal” to me!

    – Jack

  • ChillyDown

    Wow. These pictures look fantastic!

    Tom Hanks is a good actor, and he looks right for the role. I wonder if he’ll try to change his voice to sound like Walt, or if he’ll just sound like Tom Hanks. Either way, I think I can accept him.

    I really like the idea about redressing the set and using CGI for the rest of it–if that’s the way they end up going. Maybe the scenes inside the park will be so short that CGI won’t be necessary. After all, this isn’t a story about the park; it’s a story about Mary Poppins.

    That brings me to my final point: Why do all this work just for a movie about the making of another movie? How about a biopic of Walt himself, with Hanks in the lead role?

  • Gullywhumper

    I wish that the vintage Disneyland entrance letters were permanent. I think they look great, plus they’re a nice way to announce “This is Disneyland” in a colorful way.

  • Gullywhumper

    Some of the set dressings were still up when guests were allowed back into the area

  • OCRedhd

    I think Tom Hanks will be great in the role. He is such a gifted actor and the look in the pictures above was not that bad. The clothing and some of the old touches really brought back memories from those special Disneyland trips when I was young. Really looking forward to this movie.