December 16, 2013 - Viewing "Saving Mr. Banks" at Walt Disney Studios

After coffee with my friend, I headed over to the main lot as I had purchased a ticket to see Saving Mr. Banks at Walt Disney Studios.  It is very rare that the Walt Disney Studios opens its doors to the general public and I just had to go.  Not only did they offer the screening of the film in the Main Theater but they also offered an unprecedented walking tour in which we could tour the old Animation Building and stop by Stage 2 where they filmed the Mary Poppins as well as Disney Legends Plaza.  Along the way, we'd see costumes, props and sets as well as character photo opportunities.

The first stop along the way was the Welcome Center they had set up in the Frank G. Wells Building on the lot.  When we walked in, we were greeted by Mary Poppins' and Bert's Carousel Horses.

They also had a concession stand where we could buy snacks and drink as well as a small assortment of merchandise, almost all of which were from the Broadway production of Mary Poppins.  My regret, though, was that they were selling authentic Saving Mr. Banks movie posters for $15 and I didn't get one. :(

After leaving the Welcome Center, we were able to see some costumes from the movie on display of the Frank G. Wells Building's lobby.

Now, we got there very early and were one of the first people there.  And, it is at this point that you might see some changes of daylight in my photos as, admittedly, I took some of the photos when I was on the lot earlier getting coffee with my friends so that I didn't have to rush and to get better shots without people walking all over the place.  One of the places I got to go to before I arrived for the movie screening was Disney Legends Plaza which is a lovely area on the Walt Disney Studios Lot in which they display plaques of the various people inducted into the Disney Legends.

They had a sign set up indicating where the various Disney Legends involved in the production of Mary Poppins.  Interestingly enough, Mary Poppins screenwriter Don DaGradi wasn't on the sign, but, since he was right next to Julie Andrews, I easily found him.

Also at Disney Legends Plaza are three statues.  The most familiar is the Partners Statue featuring Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands and is found at every one of the Disney Resorts throughout the world.

The next statue is the Sharing The Magic statue featuring Roy O. Disney sitting on a bench with Minnie Mouse which can be found at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

The final one is the Disney Legends Award statue which also (actually it was the first one) exists at Disneyland Paris.

And, one of the things I learned is that the sculptor put various Easter Eggs in the statue, including his wedding ring and a school ring and this hidden Gus from Cinderella.

Another place I stopped by before I had gotten there was also the corner of Mickey Avenue and Dopey Drive which features the famous directional sign.

Okay, now so back to the actual events (although, you may see a photo or two from earlier in the day still).  Once we left the Welcome Center, we headed down to the Main Theater.  When we headed on to Dopey Drive, they had a photo opportunity set up with Mary Poppins and Bert with a backdrop of Cherry Tree Lane.

And, as we headed toward the Theater, we saw Mickey Mouse meeting in front of the old Animation Building.  I have to say it was so exciting to see him standing there as the building made a wonderful backdrop.

Now, when we left the Welcome Center, several of the cast members said we could go ahead and start the walking tour.  So, since we had more than an hour before the film actually started, we decided to go into the old Animation Building as they had the set of Walt's office from Saving Mr. Banks on the 3rd floor.  We made our way up to the third floor, but couldn't find it.  We saw a couple of other guys up there also looking for the set.  So, there we were all wandering around the 3rd floor.  We knew that Walt's office is now where Marc Cherry's office now resides so one of the guys we were wandering around with and I walked into his office and inquired.

The secretary was bit confused and confirmed that, yes, while that was where Walt's office used to be, his original office was not there and they were definitely not having photo opportunities there.  So, we excused ourselves and left and continued to wander around.  Well, at one point, somebody called security who escorted us out of the building.  Apparently, we couldn't walk around until after the film.  Thankfully, they didn't kick us out of the lot entirely.  LOL!

So, we just decided to go into the Main Theater where they had various things on display from Mary Poppins in the lobby.

After the film (Here is a link to my review of Saving Mr. Banks), I headed over to the old Animation Building.  On the ground floor, they had a display of the Art of Disney Animation.

On the 2nd Floor, which I missed entirely on the map, sadly, was a display of the history of the Walt Disney Company which had celebrated its 90th year.  So sad I missed it.  But, I wanted to get to the 3rd floor to see the set of Walt's office I had talked about before.  Once up on the 3rd floor, they had various Mary Poppins merchandise on display.

Then, we made our way down a hallway where several photos from Mary Poppins were on display.

This photo, however, is one of my favorite photos of all time.  I wish I could get a print of it.

Then, we made our way into a series of offices where they had set up various furniture pieces and props from the set of Walt's office in the film Saving Mr. Banks.

The next room had a meeting table with boards and boards filled with storyboards from Mary Poppins.

Then, we headed into another room that had actual artifacts from Walt Disney's real office.  These were a few of my favorites.

And, then, the final room had more production photos from Mary Poppins.

From the Animation Building, I walked over to Stage A where they recorded the original soundtrack to Mary Poppins.  Also, if you watch Saving Mr. Banks, you'll recognize it as the place where Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and the Sherman Brothers (Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak) met P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) when she arrived on the lot.

In front of Stage A, they had Walt Disney's actual limousine parked in front.

Inside, we saw the recording studio as well as more props and sketches from Saving Mr. Banks.

After, I walked over to the Silverlake Room at the Hyperion Bungalow where they had some set pieces of P.L. Travers' parlour from Saving Mr. Banks.  The Hyperion Bungalow was a building Walt Disney actually had imported over from the original Walt Disney Studios on Hyperion Avenue.

And, the final stop was a trip to Stage 2 where they filmed Mary Poppins.  They had also moved the Mary Poppins and Bert meet-and-greet closer to Stage 2.

Stage 2 was also where they filmed The Princess Diaries which also starred Julie Andrews.  So, they eventually renamed this sound stage the Julie Andrews Stage after Walt Disney's treasured Legend.

And, after that, I headed back to the Frank G. Wells building to pick up my free DVD of the 50th Anniversary Edition of Mary Poppins.  I have to say that, given everything we were treated to as well as the DVD gift and the screening itself, the whole thing was a bargain.  It was a wonderful evening that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

You can also check out my review of Saving Mr. Banks!


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