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  • Writer's pictureLoren Javier

REVIEW: Adventure Thru the Walt Disney Archives

I got a chance to watch one of the D23 Gold Member virtual screenings of Adventure Thru the Walt Disney Archives, a documentary celebrating 50 years of the Walt Disney Archives. The film is hosted by the legendary producer Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Maleficent) and written and directed by John Gleim and features a treasure trove of articles from the Archives.

The film mirrors the classic Disney film The Reluctant Dragon with Hahn in the Robert Benchley role who wanders the studio in search of Walt. In this documentary, Hahn wants to visit Walt Disney's office at the Studios but keeps getting side tracked, ending up in places like the Photo Room, the Prop Room, the Digitization Lab, Disneyland and Walt's old home on Woking Way (both of the latter are crazy off route!!).

The film features interviews with such luminaries as Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, Pixar’s Pete Docter, film historian Leonard Maltin, composer Richard Sherman, actors Kathryn Beaumont, Mark Hamill and Kurt Russell, animator Floyd Norman and many more.

What I appreciated about the documentary was that it showed us all the pieces of the Walt Disney Archives. It's not just a place where they store stuff, but everything is carefully curated and inventoried in different locations. I was especially interested in the digitization process and how they are creating 3D models of things for future reference. And, in the Photo Room, I was salivating over seeing books of publicity stills and production photos from movies such as Pete's Dragon and Splash to name a few. I also thought it was cool that they're already archiving things from 20th Century Fox, saying they have brought in an additional 4000 costumes just from that studio.

I have to say that I sometimes roll my eyes when I see these publicity pieces where people are speaking to each other in a very rehearsed way. But, truth be told, it worked for this documentary. Hahn is charming as the host and keeps things humorous and moving. Again, this reminded me a lot of The Reluctant Dragon except this is specifically about the Archives.

“Making this film was my Disney ‘fanboy’ dream come true,” said Hahn. “The Walt Disney Archives is packed with hidden treasures, and I had incredible access to them all.”

My biggest question watching this is - who owns Walt's old Woking Way property? Does Disney own it? It seems like it given some of the Disney photos and brick-a-brack strewn about. That, and the fact that Hahn just walked in to be greeted by a cast member. It's a beautiful place and gave me goosebumps as they showed where Walt would have been standing in different photos, including the iconic photo of him at the door with Mickey's reflection.

Adventure Thru the Walt Disney Archives is a great documentary that does the Walt Disney Archives justice. You should watch it when it becomes available to the masses. I hope they eventually air this on Disney+ as it would seem like an appropriate home to air this documentary.

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