I was invited as media to LA to attend a press event. Accommodations were provided. No additional compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
Have you ever toured a prestigious place like the Vatican Musuem in Rome? I did years ago, and it was really a special moment in my life. Recently I had the opportunity to tour Disney’s Animation Research Library, and the experience was very comparable to that moment I walked into the Sistine Chapel.
Described as a “repository of just about all the animation art that the Walt Disney Company possesses” mentioned Fox Carney, our tour director. He also indicated the Animation Library houses 64 to 65 million pieces of artwork, everything from shorts and features, from the 1920’s all the way to current day.
The only location in the building we were allowed to snap pictures in was the lobby, all other areas of the building were off-limits, including the disclosure of the Animation Research Library (ARL) location! During our tour, we made stops in the image capture area, design area, and vaults three and five were open for our viewing.
The Disney staff was able to take a few photos of us during our tour that were approved for sharing with our readers. Below is our group in the image capture area, where old artwork that is starting to deteriorate gets photographed and filed.
There were so many favorite parts of the tour for me. The vaults were definitely a favorite, and not because of the 59 degrees temps! We were greeted by Doug, who’s worked for the ARL for 23 & 1/2 years. He wore white gloves during our tour to preserve the artwork’s integrity. We saw up close images of the original Sleeping Beauty background artwork, which were painted on huge glass sheets. Other original artwork housed in the vaults include Snow White, Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, and more. I really wish you could have seen the images I saw!
The vaults were designed with the ultimate defense including a dual fire protection system, including a gas called Inergen that brings the oxygen level down to 15 percent, which should help put out the fire. Since California is infamous for its earthquakes, they’ve even fitted their artwork carriages with top-notch features to prevent them from falling over.
We ended the tour standing around a long black table with The Little Mermaid original artwork sketches spread out for our viewing pleasure. We saw images of Ariel as a blonde, because originally that was the concept for her. We saw the first images of Ursula, who was modeled after Joan Collins, however they went a different direction making her look more evil, as an octopus.
The entire experience was just amazing! I wish we could have toured the entire facility, however I’m sure that would’ve taken a month at least, with how much artwork is stored there.
What piece of Disney history would you have liked to see up close and personal, if you had the opportunity?