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Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, United States, are the corporate headquarters for The Walt Disney Company media conglomerate. Besides housing offices for the company's many divisions, The Walt Disney Studios also contains sound stages, a backlot and other production facilities for Walt Disney Studios' motion picture production. The Studios are one of the two major film studios that do not offer backlot tours to the general public, the other being 20th Century Fox. However, Adventures by Disney recently offered tours of the studio as a part of their six day, five night Southern California tour. Additionally, the studio opens to the public once a year in November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving for its annual Magical Holiday Faire craft sale.
Prior to the official opening of the Burbank lot in 1940, The Walt Disney Studios was located at several different locations in Los Angeles and Hollywood. During Summer 1923, Walt Disney created 'The Disney Bros Cartoon Studio' in his Uncle Robert Disney's garage, located at 4406 Kingswell Avenue, in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. His brother Roy O. Disney was also in Los Angeles at the time. During October 1923, the brothers moved to a bigger lot, located in a former real estate agency at 4651 Kingswell Avenue. On October 16, 1923, Walt Disney accepted Margaret Winkler's, of Universal Studios' offer to distribute the new Alice Comedies starring Virginia Davis. It was also at this site were on January 14, 1924, Walt Disney met his future wife Lillian Bounds, an Ink and Paint girl whom he personally hired. In February 1924, the studio moved next door to 4649 Kingswell Avenue.
In 1925, Walt Disney placed a deposit on a new, considerably larger lot at 2719 Hyperion Avenue. It was here were, after a train journey with his wife Lillian, Walt fully created the character of Mickey Mouse in 1928. The first color animation, the Silly Symphony, Flowers and Trees and the first animated cartoon using the multiplane camera, The Old Mill was created. In 1937, the Hyperion Studio produced the world's first animated full length feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney's staff also began to grow at this studio, and Disney Legends such as Disney's Nine Old Men began their careers. The studio was closed down in 1940, however name 'Hyperion' has been used for multiple divisions and attractions within The Walt Disney Company including Hyperion Books and the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure Park.
The current Walt Disney Studios, located at 500 South Buena Vista Street, Burbank, was built from the revenue from the 1937 release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt Disney and his staff began the move from the old studio at Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake on December 24, 1939, and was completed on May 6, 1940. Designed primarily by Kem Weber under the supervision of Walt Disney and his brother Roy, the Burbank Disney Studio buildings are the only studios that have been owned by The Walt Disney Company to survive from the Golden Age of filming. A bungalow and other small buildings that were located at the Hyperion Avenue location were moved to Burbank.
The Walt Disney Studios was originally designed around the animation process, with the large animation building in the center of the campus, and adjacent buildings for the story department, the music department, the ink-and-paint departments, and the other various functions of the studio. Both above-ground walkways and tunnels connected the buildings, and the campus also included a movie theatre and a number of soundstages. The Disney feature The Reluctant Dragon, starring Robert Benchley, served as a tour of the then-new studio, which was also frequently seen and toured on the various Walt Disney television programs.
In the late 1940s, the studio began regular work on live-action features, as they needed the money. Though their first films were shot in England, the necessity to build live-action facilities still arose. Lacking the capital to do it themselves, Jack Webb offered to put up some of the money to build live-action stages in exchange for their use (Webb used it to shoot much of the Dragnet TV series). During this time, back lots were also built and remained standing at the studios until the management change of the mid-1980s.
In 1986, after the corporate restructuring of Walt Disney Productions into The Walt Disney Company, the buildings were remodeled to accommodate more live-action production space and administrative offices. The studios lot is now made up of multiple office and administration buildings and 10 soundstages.
Formerly known as the Team Disney Burbank building, Team Disney - The Michael D. Eisner Building is the main building located at The Walt Disney Studios. Completed in 1990 and designed by Michael Graves, the Team Disney Burbank building contains the office of President and CEO Robert A. Iger, as well as the boardroom for the Board of Directors. It also houses offices for members of Senior Management, such as Alan Horn, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Andy Bird, Chairman of Walt Disney International. Prior to the opening of the Team Disney Burbank building in 1990, Disney executives were located in the old Disney Animation Building. Disney artists and animators were relocated into warehouses in Pasadena. The building is sometimes called the "Seven Dwarfs Building"; it has a stunning fascia of the seven dwarfs holding up the roof of the building, an homage to the animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which provided Walt Disney with the revenue to purchase the Burbank lot. The building is located opposite the Frank G. Wells building, Eisner's former colleague, and President of The Walt Disney Company from 1984–1994. In 1996 the building was featured in Hollywood Pictures film Spy Hard. On January 23, 2006, in honor of Michael Eisner's 21-year leadership of the company, the Team Disney building was rededicated as Team Disney - The Michael D. Eisner Building.
The Disney Legends plaza, located between the Team Disney: The Michael D. Eisner building and the Frank G. Wells building, is the central hub for the Disney Legends award and pays homage to its recipients. The plaza features the Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, designed by Imagineer Blaine Gibson, along with a replica statue of Roy O. Disney and Minnie Mouse which can also be found at the Magic Kingdom park. Located on the pillars in the plaza are bronze plaques featuring receivers of the Disney Legends award. The plaques feature the recipient's name, reason for gaining the award, and the person's hand prints and signature if they were alive at the time they received the award. Most famously, Legendary Animator and Imagineer, Ward Kimball's plaque features an extra finger, a reminder of Kimball's sense of humour. If, however, the award was presented posthumously, an image of the Disney Legends statue is engraved instead of the traditional hand prints and signature. The plaza formerly featured a small fountain to honor the legends but has since been removed due to water leakage.
Dedicated to the former President of The Walt Disney Company from 1984–1994, Frank G. Wells. The building opened in 1998 and was dedicated by Wells' widow Luanne Wells, and company CEO Michael Eisner. The 5 story building has a usable area of 240,518 square feet (22,344.9 m2) with three underground parking levels, accommodating 600 parking spaces. The construction was completed in two phases: phase I in August 1997 and phase II in July 1998. The Frank G. Wells building was specifically designed for Walt Disney Television Animation, and the division has offices located on the third floor. It is distinctly recognizable through its giant movie reel and film strip on the building's exterior. The building is also home to the Walt Disney Archives, Walt Disney Television, Disney University, management offices, HR department and the Multiplane camera. The Walt Disney Archives is located on the ground floor and is open to all cast members. The archives also has additional storage and restricted areas on other floors. The Studio's Starbucks Coffee shop is also located on the ground floor.
The former main building for Walt Disney Animation Studios was built and completed in 1940 and designed by Ken Webber. Walt Disney personally supervised with the 'double H' design, ensuring as many rooms as possible had windows, allowing natural light into the building to help the animators while working. Many of the classic Disney animated features including "Dumbo", "Peter Pan", "Cinderella" and "Lady & the Tramp" were created and drawn here. Walt Disney had 2 offices within the building, known as his 'formal' and 'working offices'. The rooms were used after Walt's death in 1966, and personal items archived in 1970. It is believed that Walt would have wanted his offices to be reused. The rooms still feature some original features and are currently being used by company officials. Members of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, would have had their offices within this building, along with legendary animators and artists such as Eyvind Earle, Mary Blair, Andres Deja, Floyd Norman, John Lasseter, Glenn Keane, John Musker and Ron Clements. In the late 1980s production was moved from the Animation Building into warehouses located in Glendale. Prior to the opening of the Team Disney Burbank building in 1990, Disney Executives used the Animation Building as corporate offices. In 1995, animation production moved back to Burbank across the street from the main studios with the opening of the Walt Disney Feature Animation Building, and some offices within the original Animation Building. It is considered the jewel of the original studio buildings.
The Roy O. Disney building is located next to the animation building and held the office of Roy O. Disney to whom the building is dedicated. The building used to be the main administration building on the studio lot prior to the opening of the Team Disney - The Michael D. Eisner building. It still houses multiple corporate offices.
Stage 1 was completed between 1939 and 1940 and is the original Disney soundstage on the Burbank lot. The soundstage was designed to replace a smaller stage at the former Hyperion Avenue Studio. Although The Walt Disney Studios predominantly made animated films, the soundstage was built in order to film Leopold Stokowski's segments in the 1940 film Fantasia. During World War II, the stage was used for repairing army vehicles. The soundstage was formerly dedicated to Fantasia, for it being the first motion picture that was filmed in the building. The stage is the smallest on the lot at 11,000 sq ft. It features a 2400 sq ft underwater tank and is still in active use. On June 24, 2013, it was dedicated to Mousketeer Annette Funicello as it was the original shooting stage for The Mickey Mouse Club.
Constructed from 1947 and opening in April 1949, Stage 2 is the second oldest soundstage on the Walt Disney Studios lot, and at 31,000 feet (9,400 m), one of the largest in Los Angeles. It was built and financed between a joint agreement between Walt Disney and director Jack Webb, who used the stage for the filming of the television series Dragnet. In October 1955, Stage 2 began production on the first series of The Mickey Mouse Club. From 1954-1955 and prior to the opening of the facilities at Glendale California, WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) occupied soundstage 2 to build multiple attractions for Disneyland, including the Mark Twain Riverboat. Since then Stage 2 has been used for filming of multiple attractions for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. In 2001 the stage is dedicated to English actress and Disney Legend Julie Andrews, due to the filming of Mary Poppins and The Princess Diaries, which took place inside the soundstage. During the filming of Armageddon the filmmakers discovered the 40 feet high tall stage was not tall enough to hold one of the "asteroid" seen in the film. The floor was removed and an additional 20 feet was dug down to accommodate the 360 degree set for the scene.
Stage 3 was completed in 1953 and designed especially for the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The stage is 19,000 sq ft and contains an operational 3600 sq ft water tank that is divided into two parts for underwater and special effects filming.
The tank area was also used heavily beginning in the 1960s as Disney pioneered the use of the sodium screen process. In the 1970s stage 3 was equipped with the first computerized motion control system. The ACES (Animated Camera Effects System) was designed by Disney engineers and broke new ground with technology which has become one of the foundations of current special effects photography.
Studio 4, which was completed in 1958, was first used for Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Upon completing 30 years of service in 1998, Stage 4 was divided into 2 new Television studios, creating the new Stage 4 and Stage 5. Stage 4 is known as the Home Improvement stage which was filmed here 1991 - 1999.
Stages 6 and 7, built in 1997 are the newest soundstages at the Walt Disney Studios. These audience-rated stages provide comprehensive production support with computer-controlled access, high-volume air-conditioning, and adjoining production support building. They are built on the former back-lot and are located behind the Frank G. Wells Building. Both stages are 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) each and are in frequent use at the studios. Popular productions hare have included, My Wife and Kids, 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, Geena and Brothers and Sisters.
The Bungalow was built in 1935 as the original home of the Disney Publicity and Comic Strip Departments. It was constructed at the Disney Studios on Hyperion Avenue in Hollywood and moved to the Burbank location as part of the construction in 1939 -1940. At the Disney Burbank lot, the building hosed many of the support services. Payroll, Publicity Support, Traffic and finally the Post Office were located in the building. The structure is the last remaining example of the "California Bungalow" type architecture that remains from the Hyperion studio facility. It's attractive style and utility, starting in the early years of the company, give it a special place in the history of the Disney lot.
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The Camera Building is where the Backgrounds, Character Drawings, are photographed for the film
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Formerly known as the Walt Disney Feature Animation Building, the Roy E. Disney building is the current home of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Opened in 1995, the working animation studios was moved out of the original animation building and into a new complex located across from Riverside Drive. During Michael D. Eisner's 1990 restructuring of The Walt Disney Company, the studio's animation division was spun off to officially create Walt Disney Feature Animation as a subsidiary of the company. The new Walt Disney Feature Animation division temporarily moved its operations away from the studio lot, into an Air Way warehouse in Glendale. The new studio is a colorful piece of architecture, adorned by a giant version of the Fantasia Sorcerer's hat, which once housed of the office of Roy E. Disney, former head of Walt Disney Feature Animation (now called Walt Disney Animation Studios). In 2009, following the death of former Walt Disney Feature Animation Chairman, Roy E. Disney, the building was renamed and rededicated in his honor by The Walt Disney Company's president and CEO, Bob Iger.
After Disney's purchase of ABC in 1996, a new headquarters for the television network was constructed across Riverside Drive next to the Walt Disney Feature Animation Building. The ABC building was designed by Aldo Rossi and is connected to the lot by a blue serpentine bridge that crosses over Riverside Drive. The ABC building also houses the offices of other subsidiaries such as ABC Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
A two-story 17,000 square foot facility dedicated to post-production utilities and other, similar technical services. Opened in December of 2012, the center is the home of Disney Digital Studio Services.