Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to visit a new display set up by the Walt Disney Archives at the Walt Disney Studios Burbank lot. The Archives team has recreated Walt Disney’s office suite as it appeared in the last months he had used it before he passed away. (This explains why a similar exhibit was removed from the One Man’s Dream experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)
Currently, the only opportunity for the public to tour this space is as a D23 member who pays to take this very limited tour, and only a handful of people are allowed into each room at any given time. Photos are permitted, but no video or flash pictures.
The 3H Suite is located on the third floor of the “Old Animation” Building on the Studio Lot.
As you enter the suite with your Archives tour guide, you first notice pictures along the hallway of the offices as they appeared in Walt Disney’s time.
Your first stop on the tour is in a re-created version of one of the secretaries’ offices. Walt Disney had three secretaries by the end of his career and on this desk you’ll see his appointment calendar, which was kept in triplicate so each of his secretaries had an up to date schedule of where he would be at any given time.
Here you will also find a cabinet filled with just some of Walt Disney’s many, many awards.
ALMOST everything you will see in the suite is original to Walt Disney’s offices. However, a few items are re-creations or even items on temporary loan from the Walt Disney Family Museum, who also keep some of the original items re-created here.
One fun re-creation that was pointed out by our guide was the Oscar statues set given to Walt Disney (the most honored man at the Academy Awards) for his achievement of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The version seen here at the top of the cabinet in the suite is the prop used in the wonderful film Saving Mr. Banks!
From there, you step into Walt Disney’s “formal office”.
You will find pictures of Walt Disney’s daughters and some of his miniatures collection behind his desk.
This room is where dignitaries would be welcomed and where you found the famous piano where the Sherman Brothers would come weekly to visit and sing and play for the man.
You’ll also see an immense wall of books, many of which were gifts by their authors. These bookshelves were put back with the books returned to the order in which they appeared in the period photos that the original Archivist Dave Smith took at the time of Walt Disney’s passing.
Next to the piano is a couch and table. Behind it hangs a small clockwork bird – reportedly one of the ones that inspired the audio-animatronics in the Enchanted Tiki Room and elsewhere throughout the Disney Parks.
You’ll notice a lot of ashtrays in the office, so it’s clear no one is shying away from history here.
Walking through to the next room takes you into Walt Disney’s “working office”.
Here you will find a map of Disneyland Park in progress as well as a conceptual map for the Walt Disney World Resort.
Those with a keen eye may also spot a picture of Ed Wynn (voice of The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and who played Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins) propped on the same wall. According to our guide, Walt Disney considered Wynn his lucky charm and always kept a picture of him around!
Again, you’ll note quite a few ashtrays around the room.
The working office is backed by a period kitchenette, which contains a sampling of the kinds of comfort foods Walt Disney enjoyed back in the day including his favorite chili as well as Jello and V8 juice!
When you exit this room, it is through Walt Disney’s former closet, where a sampling of personal items are on display, including a tie found where it had fallen behind one of the office couches, and one of Walt Disney’s polo mallets.
Finally you arrive in what will be a changing Archives display area. Currently it houses an animator’s desk and some chairs and a clock all attributed to “The Designs of Kem Weber”.
From there you return to the hallway in which you began and it’s time to exit the suite for another group to arrive for their tour!
I found this an extraordinary opportunity to visit this location and have a chance to feel so near to Walt Disney himself via his working space and I cannot recommend the experience highly enough to any Disney fan! My only quibble was I wish I could have stayed longer to take it all in properly!
Do you plan to visit Walt Disney’s Suite 3H at the Studio Lot? Or did you see a part of this display already at One Man’s Dream?