Walt Returns to Disneyland for Filming of Saving Mr. Banks

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disney News, Disneyland Resort, Features, In the Parks

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Published on November 09, 2012 at 5:03 am with 36 Comments


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

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • 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 :) 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 http://www.imdb.com 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….. :(

    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
  • [email protected]

    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