Do you remember when time capsules were all the rage? People were digging up boxes from 10, 20, 50 years ago and people were burying boxes for the future. High schools would put a time capsule together when a class started their freshmen year and then unveil it close to senior graduation just to see how much had changed in four years. I remember creating a “time capsule” with my sister. We got a shoebox, gathered some of our favorite things, and hid it under the bed. Don’t judge! We were little and burying the box never really occurred to us. The neat thing, it is still intact. She is in her twenties and I am in my thirties and from time to time we still stumble across it at mom’s house and have a laugh and smile about a time long ago.
So what would happen if a well-known, beloved company had the foresight to start a time capsule, using this term loosely, and began gathering things from the inception of the company? Going back and scrounging up interesting bits of memorabilia from the past. Paying attention as major events and milestones came up and planning to save them for the future. Saving innovative inventions so their successors could learn. What would happen? The Disney Archives would happen. And today we will be taking an inside look at the magical result!
Two weeks ago I was preparing for the trip of a lifetime. I had been invited to attend a press junket for Disney’s Tomorrowland in Los Angeles, California and as part of the trip, with special permission, we would be viewing the Disney Archives. Although the trip to the Archives was designed to provide us with an insider look of Walt’s Vision for Tomorrowland, we would also view memorabilia from movies, television shows, parks; items that helped make Disney … Disney. When I learned that I was going to receive special access to Disney Archives I was absolutely speechless and my husband was downright jealous. You know what he said? I quote, “You are going to get to see stuff that no one else gets to see. Everyone gets to go to Disneyland. Everyone can go see the movie. No one gets to go see the Disney Archives. I would trade all the other stuff just to get that chance. You’re going to get to see toys and animation cells and costumes that no one but Disney employees ever get to see. Remember watching Saving Mr. Banks? You’re going to see all that kind of stuff, but the real thing.” He knew all about it even before I had a clue. As soon as I arrived home from my trip, all he wanted to do was see the pictures I took at the archives. Okay, so he gave me a hug and kiss first but you know what I mean!
So let’s start at the beginning, before entering Disney Archives you travel through Disney Legends Plaza. The name is fitting as this area pays homage to “the many individuals whose imagination, talents, and dreams have created the Disney Magic.” To say this area was powerful would be an understatement. It was quiet as we walked through, other than the chatter of bloggers finding the names and offering respect, and the surroundings are beautiful. We came across names such as Richard and Robert Sherman, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, and Robin Williams … just to name a few. Needless to say, tears were shed and it touched my heart.
Upon entering Disney Archives we were introduced to Disney Archivist Kevin Kern, out “tour guide” for the day! Who better to share the history of Disney than someone who is a Disney Expert! He holds a wealth of knowledge which he gladly shared with us and was able to answer questions without taking pause or even blinking.
Established by Walt Disney in 1970, the Disney Archives collects, preserves, and makes available for research the historical materials relating to Walt and the company he founded. Before entering the Archives Room there are glass cases containing artifacts from the Disney brothers (Walt and Roy), movies throughout the years from Peter Pan to Pirates of the Caribbean, and even Mouse Ears. I was in awe of the history behind the glass and couldn’t believe the care that has been given to things over the years. They even have Roy Disney’s briefcase and relics a.k.a. office supplies from Walt Disney’s desk! As if this was not amazing enough, the wonders behind the doors that are always closed were breathtaking.
Right inside there is a desk used by an original Disney animator. It isn’t a replica it is an actual desk that was used years ago. And the magic only begins there. The Disney Archives holds characters dating back to the beginning of Disney, animations from Sleeping Beauty, original drawings of Mickey Mouse, models and memorabilia from past films, and did I mention Walt Disney himself welcomes you? One of the coolest things we saw that day, as if everything wasn’t amazing, was originals. The Archives has the very first ticket to Disneyland which was purchased by Roy Disney, they also have a Parking Pass from the Premiere, and Invitation to the Press Preview. These aren’t copies, they are ORIGINALS, how cool is that?!?! Ever heard of a Multiplane Camera? Me neither, but this behemoth was used to make all of Disney’s animated features prior to the dawn of computer animation. It was invented at Disney and there are only three left in the world. Talk about inventing the future…
Then we arrived at the primary focus of our visit. Tomorrowland of course! Seeing items from the 1964-1965 World Fair, a doll from Its a Small World in Disneyland, and items of inspiration for the movie brought everything together. This stopped me in my tracks. We all love going to the movies, especially Disney movies, but how many of us actually take a step back and think of all of the dynamics that go into to actually MAKING the movie? I mean, I always wonder how they come up with original idea and the script but to be standing in front of items, items from years ago, that helped turn the fantasy into a reality was mind boggling. People always say their mind was blown … mine was.
There was so much to take in at the Disney Archives that I could not possibly cover it all. Words escape me as I try to imagine more than 9,000 boxes of documents and merchandise items, a library containing four million photographs, and thousands of history props and costume pieces. All of that and the collection isn’t even complete. Does the word WOW come to mind?
While I was on this adventure all I could do was take in every second as it came and try to process it as quickly as possible. Now, almost two weeks later, I am astounded by how things have come together and how the dots really do connect. If you read our interviews with George Clooney and Britt Robertson before reading this piece then you will see how things really come together. You should be getting a better picture of Tomorrowland, how the movie was created, and the meaning behind the title. We will help you continue to unwrap the present that is Tomorrowland in the days to come but our advice is to gather your family this Friday, May 22, 2015 and head to the theaters to see a family friendly, PG movie that is sure to blow your mind too.
From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s “Tomorrowland,” a riveting mystery adventure starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.
Featuring a screenplay by “Lost” writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen, “Tomorrowland” promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of nonstop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.
The film also stars Hugh Laurie as brilliant scientist David Nix, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Judy Greer, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Robinson.
“Tomorrowland” is produced by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird and Jeffrey Chernov and directed by Brad Bird, with John Walker, Brigham Taylor, Jeff Jensen and Bernard Bellew serving as executive producers. “Tomorrowland” opens in U.S. theaters on May 22, 2015.
Are you excited to see TOMORROWLAND? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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Disclaimer: I was sent on an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, California courtesy of Disney to experience Tomorrowland and a series of other adventures surrounding the movie. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own.