I'm not sure how long ago it was, but Ruston got the idea in his head that we should tour around Los Angeles and explore all the places where Walt Disney spent any time. Theresa, Jacob and I thought that would be an awesome idea and Ruston set off to start planning it. We've been to plenty of Disney parks around the world, but we've never explored the roots of where it all started from right in our backyard. Sure we've heard about all these places and seen them in pictures, but reading about them and actually visiting them are totally different things.
A few days before we met up, Ruston sent us this agenda:
- Robert Disney’s home (Walt’s uncle)
- Walt and Roy’s first workspace
- Walt and Roy’s matching Tudor homes
- Location of the first Disney Studio
- Walt’s “Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters” Cottage
- Snack (but save room for Tacos)
- Griffith Park Carousel (“I’m so bored watching my daughters, there should be a place where adults can have fun too”)
- Horseback riding (not really, just seeing if you’re paying attention)
- Train Barn
- Forest Lawn
- Walt’s Favorite Taco Stand
It's going to be a day full of fun. Let's get started!
On March 23th, we all piled into Ruston's car to start our adventure.
Our first stop was actually Walt's first stop when he moved out to California. Walt moved into his uncle Robert's house on 4406 Kingswell Ave in Los Feliz in the summer of 1923.
Walt even assembled his first animation camera in a converted the garage here.
Just down the street at 4651 Kingswell Ave was Walt's very first official animation studio.
These are photos you've likely seen showing Lillian, Walt, Ruth, Roy O. and Edna Disney in front of the Studio.
Now a copy/print shop, there is a sign outside that proclaims it as "First Walt Disney Studio 1923".
Inside there is a tribute wall with lots of classic photos and articles of Walt.
We also met the shop's owner Marina who chatted with us a little bit.
And this has been painted on the side wall beside the counter.
After living a few other places briefly, in 1927 Walt built this prefab home at 2495 Lyric Ave for $7500.
It was actually in this garage that Walt Disney worked on the very first Mickey Mouse cartoons!
Just next door is his brother Roy's house. It's the mirror image of Walt's (though it does have an addition that has since been added).
The next stop on our tour brought us to another one of the Walt's animation studios. It was here where Walt created his first color animation, the Silly Symphony called Flowers and Trees. Not only that, it's also where Walt and his team of animators created the first full length animated feature, Snow White!
What it used to look like.
Now though... It's a Gelson's Market.
Inside there are still a couple tributes to the old studios.
There is a Before/After photo of Studios compared to the current Gelson's market.
Plus a photo of the original Studios.
While we were there one of the employees noticed us looking at the photos and told us that we had to go see the animators' houses that were just down the street. They lived here while they were working on the movie Snow White.
We wound our way up some narrow twisting roads until we reached Walt's next home. Having outgrown his small Lyric Ave residence, Walt then built his dream home at 4053 Woking Way in Los Feliz which overlooked his Hyperion Studios.
I was only able to get photos from the public street, but the house was recently up for sale and the agent took some great photos of the insides which you can see at waltdisneylahome.com. Check out the gallery photos!
Our next stop was the carousel at Griffith Park.
It has been described as "The merry-go-round that bored Walt so much he created Disneyland". Kidding, kidding.
Sadly two from our group get motion sick and declined to ride. But Jacob and I paid our $2 for tickets, grabbed an outside horse and enjoyed a fun 3-4 minute ride.
Ruston kept us entertained as well. Every time we passed he would do something to make us laugh, whether waving constantly for the first 5-6 times around, reaching through the bars like he wanted to ride, running around the outside trying to keep up with us, or just sitting on the bench motionless for 2 rounds, disappearing completely (I still don't know where he went), then re-appearing back on the bench and acting like nothing happened.
Ruston’s memory: From the moment we parked and opened the car doors you could hear the carousel’s music. We walked down the hill and at first the music was very charming. It sounded like a real marching band, with horns and drums. After about 15 minutes of sitting next to the Carousel, the music started to sound the same and I wondered how the workers keep their sanity. Theresa and I chose to observe rather than ride, this carousel is not your leisurely Saturday afternoon ride, it spins like a top. Don’t believe me? Go to youtube and watch any of the videos.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary within Griffith Park, the carousel itself is slowly being repaired. You can compare some of the sections that are older with the sections that have been updated.
This sled was restored in memory of Walt Disney.
And just off to the side there is a photo of Walt on one of the benches beside the carousel.
Definitely a fun stop on our adventure.
Unfortunately Walt's last home on Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills (the one with the railroad in the backyard) was torn down. Walt's barn is one of the last pieces remaining from this estate and happens to be located at the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum.
But it's only open to the public on Sundays and we happened to be here on a Saturday. We're stuck outside the chain-link fence.
But there it is.
And here's our picture in front of it.
Also providing a small bit of entertainment was the large crane just outside the fence. It had various hand signals for the workers to use during operation, so we had fun acting them all out.
One of the last places we visited was Walt's final resting place.
Located in the corner of the Court of Freedom at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale is the crypt of the Disney family.
The Disney Family crypt.
Ruston had one last surprise in store for us. All day long he promised us a dinner at a taco stand, but secretly he had reserved us a table at one of Walt's favorite restaurants, the Tam O'Shanter.
Inside you'll find a few references to Walt Disney. This plaque tells of the history of the Tam O'Shanter and how it was one of Walt's favorite places to dine in the 30s and 40s (see the 1930 reference below).
Plus there are a few more original drawings on the walls.
See that table in the back left corner? Not only had Ruston made us reservations at one of Walt's favorite restaurants, he also requested Walt's table and fortunately they were able to accommodate us!
How awesome was this! To actually sit where Walt once sat and enjoy a great meal with great friends.
In all it was an amazing day. Thank you Ruston for planning this entire day out! We had a great time!