Saving Mr. Banks at The Walt Disney Studios

As promised last night, here is a look at our trip to The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank for a special event to see the film, Saving Mr. Banks. You didn’t have to be a VIP to go. Tickets were available to the general public and…

As promised last night, here is a look at our trip to The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank for a special event to see the film, Saving Mr. Banks. You didn’t have to be a VIP to go. Tickets were available to the general public and my parents thought it would be a good early Christmas gift. I don’t think they knew how right they were.

Michaela and I had really been looking forward to the film but we were not prepared for the overwhelming feeling and added weight of significance to see it in its home and the home of the original story. Employees at the studios didn’t attempt to hide their pride or enthusiasm as we were welcomed like long separated friends to a party.

The reality of what the evening had in store for us hit hard when we entered the room to show our tickets and get our wristbands. We were among the first there that evening to see the original carousel horses from Mary Poppins, ridden by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, waiting within arms reach. After 50 years, I’m not sure I expected them to look so good.

Bert’s horse was my favorite (naturally). Mary’s horse, though practically perfect in every way, didn’t have the same character or goofy charm.

After gawking for a while, we moved on and were directed to a hallway that had one beauty of a vintage camera on display. There were toy soldiers on either side, given that it was Christmastime. That seemed to be what most people were drawn to. Not me. I suppose that makes me a geek. That’s alright. I’ll own it.

Walt Disney Studios Film Camera at the Saving Mr. Banks film event

In the room that the hallway led us to, there were glass cases with movie props from various projects of The Walt Disney Studios. Surprisingly, I didn’t take any pictures of them. I know what you’re thinking. A tiger must have leaped out of the shadows and chewed off my arm or, worse yet, a Disneyland duck made off with my camera. Neither of those things happened. I just got lost with teeming contentment sharing the experience with my family.

We weren’t yet where we needed to be. We had to walk across the studio lot to the theater. The crisp night air brought me back to my senses in time to get a shot of this lovely scene. I don’t usually take shots at night without having a tripod but I was feeling courageous.

Walt-Disney-Studios-Campus during the Saving Mr. Banks film event

Before we knew it, we were in line to see Bert and Mary for a picture opportunity. Michaela and I tend to stay behind the camera, so we took a pass on our opportunity after getting some nice shots of my parents.

Then it was time to watch Saving Mr. Banks. We were welcomed into the theater where we found our seats in the front row. I know what you’re thinking now. The front row?! Yup. I had concerns too but was assured by a friend that this wasn’t your typical movie theater. I think we had the best seats in the house for a truly wonderful film.

After the movie, we had the opportunity to tour certain areas of the studio and see behind the scenes. I was immediately drawn to the Animation Building, where most of the good stuff was. (Don’t you love those letters??)

The Walt Disney Studios Animation Building during the Saving Mr. Banks film event

There were a few floors to wander with hundreds of other people all having the same idea — we’ve got to see Walt’s office. Well, the replica for the film, anyway. We got there eventually. But one of the most incredible rooms we saw was this one, filled with storyboards and concept art for Mary Poppins. I was only allowed to point the camera in certain directions, so I captured what I could.

Mary Poppins Storyboards at the Walt-Disney Studios during the Saving Mr. Banks film event

The office staged as Walt’s was pretty incredible. It wasn’t really what I expected it to be but I guess I don’t really know what I expected. It just wasn’t it.

Seeing Tom Hanks photoshopped into iconic pictures of Walt Disney was surreal. They did a decent job but it’s not as believable as Hanks’ performance was.

I was probably too busy trying to figure out how to smuggle some of this stuff out. What I needed was a tiger or duck related diversion…

Replica of Walt Disney's Office during the Saving Mr. Banks film event at The Walt Disney Studios

In the room that followed, there was a display showcasing some genuine items from Walt’s original office. That was a real treat. The small statues were unique and reminded me of our visit to The Walt Disney Family Museum.

Our final stop for the night was Legends Plaza. This was really the only area of The Walt Disney Studios that I was familiar with, having seen a number of pictures online. It was definitely far more grand in person. I had visions of epic HDRs bursting like fireworks in my head but there were too many people, too little time and not a tripod in sight. I was still pretty happy with the images I took. They represent some fantastic memories and that is what makes pictures so special.

Having not been to The Walt Disney Studios (or Walt Disney World) prior to this event, I had never seen the statue of Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse. I was completely blown away at how charming it is and how little attention it received.

Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse Statue at The Walt Disney Studios

That wraps up this peak into our adventure to see Saving Mr. Banks. I know this post is a little different than what we normally do but I hope you enjoyed it. Maybe we’ll try it again some time.

*No ducks or tigers were harmed in the production of these images or this post.
**This post was inspired by the title of Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On.

About Matt Hansen

Matt is a photographer and designer based in San Diego. When he’s not working, he's charting his next adventure over coffee or craft beer.
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  1. You were there too? I was seating in the middle section of the theater and it was a great experience !


    1. Oswaldo, Nice! it really was.


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