Tuesday, October 22, 2013

D23 Present Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives - Part I

D23 Present Treasures of the
Walt Disney Archives - Part I

As you know from my previous posts, I was among a very few lucky working media who were able to attend a special preview of D23 Presents Treasure of the Walt Disney Archives at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  I first received an email from Renee Maihiot, Public Relations Coordinator from the Museum advising me of the agenda for the morning of the opening of this special exhibit; which was also the 90th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. 

  • 8:00 a.m. Continental breakfast
  • 8:20 - 9:15 a.m. Guided tour of Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives
  • 10:30 a.m. Exhibit opening event for the general public

We all met in the Museum's Entry Hall and were greeted by Renee, who then took us to the rotunda in the main museum entrance.  We were introduced to Jeffery Epstein, Manager, Marketing & PR of D23, and then we were treated to a  continental breakfast.  Next, Jeffery introduced us to Becky Cline, Director of Walt Disney Archives and Nicholas Vega, Manager of Collections and Exhibits for the Archives.

We were then taken into the exhibit which is broken down into the following way:

  • The Early Years
  • Early Hollywood
  • Animation Tools & Techniques
  • Walt:  Showman of the World
  • Mary Poppins
  • Theme Parks
  • Disney Today
  • Animation Academy

Nicholas told us that they set-up the exhibit with a "force flow" so that you walk down a corridor for the first few sections and cannot see the next one until you round the corner; this was done as to not reveal what was coming.  He also said, within each exhibit, wherever they could use Walt's voice to "describe" something they did.  Each section had either film clips, artifacts, scripts or toys, and one even has a recreation of Walt's office, which is an inspiration. I overheard someone say "You can just feel the creative energy!".

There were several special items within this exhibit, such as

  • The original story script, typed by Walt Disney, for the 1928 Steamboat Willie;
  • The original contract for "Alice Comedies", signed by Charles Mintz, Margaret Winkler, Robert Disney and Walt Disney;
  • The original prop storybooks for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty; and
  • The Snow White costume actress Rachel Weisz wore for the 2007 Dream Portrait series, shot by Annie Leibovitz for Disney Parks, in addition to Snow White costume worn by a live-action reference model that the animators studied for the film.

Steamboat Willie Script

Original Alice Poster

Alice Comedies Contract

Snow White Prop Storybook
Original Snow White costume

Each section had something "special" in it.  Such as Mary Poppins Carpet Bag, the blocks that spelled out MARY POPPINS in the movie, or for me it was the original opening scene artwork done by Peter Ellenshaw.

If I had to pick one of my favorites it would have to be the Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

I swear at one point one of them was following me home.

Also did you know that Walt Disney was planning on doing a Wizard of Oz movie back in the 50's?  Here are the blueprints from it.

Becky Cline stated that they are always looking for more items that they might not have for the Walt Disney Archives.  When asked what her favorite piece is in the exhibit, she said it was the Sleeping Beauty Book.  Also she was asking what she would like to find that they don't currently have, she said Mary Poppins umbrella.

At the end of the exhibit there is the Animation Academy, where you can test your animation skills by drawing Mickey Mouse.  No one said we were good artists, okay one of us might be!

I cannot tell how special everyone made us feel and how exciting this exhibit is.  If you live in Chicago or are planning a visit there between now and May 4, 2014, please try and add this to your plans.  The exhibit is not included in Museum Entry and will require an additional time-entry ticket, which is $9 for adults and seniors and $7 for children 3 - 11.  Tickets are on sale at msichicago.org.  MSI members can purchase exhibit ticket for $4.50 per guest.  D23 Gold and Silver Members will receive a special discount on exhibit entry. 

As Jeffery said they are using the rich company history to move to the future. 


  1. So beyond thrilled for you to get to see this amazing event! Thanks for sharing all the pictures-I feel as though I was there with you!

  2. How fun!! These pics are great! Thanks for taking us behind the scenes with you.