Monday, August 1, 2016

Zip A Dee Ay

"Remember, you're the one who can fill the world with sunshine." -- Snow White

Hello, again! Here's part two of my adventures with Erica! As I mentioned (I think?) in my last two posts, I got to visit the Walt Disney Studio Lot a second time when Erica came to visit at the end of May. This was exciting for soooo many reasons, the biggest of which I can't talk about here. Needless to say, however, Erica was stoked to find out that we were going here! Although Erica isn't quite as much of a location stalking fan as yours truly, she loves herself some Disney fare! 

As the guest of an employee, you are asked to park in what is commonly referred to as the Zorro lot, so named because it's the site of the former Zorro television show set. My friend's office is at the other end of the studio lot, so we ended up passing a couple of the stages as we made our way to meet her. In my two visits to the lot, Stage 6 has always been the one to catch my eye the most. Stage 6 is one of the newest stages on the lot, sitting on the former backlot area of the property. During both of my visits, the gigantic stage doors were covered in advertisements for The Muppets television show. Erica thought that the ad was adorable, and just had to get a picture! Sadly, The Muppets was cancelled just before our visit, so they were actively dismantling the sets when we were there. 

My friend works in the nearby Frank G. Wells Building, which is a great building to hang out in while waiting for a meeting with a friend. While officially home to both Disney's Music Group and Marvel Entertainment, the building is also well known by cast members and visitors alike for housing the lot's Starbucks Coffee Shop and Disney Archives. The lobby is always full of some sort of fun advertisements for current new releases, and the display cases often have some amazing pieces from the archives themselves. During this visit, many of the display cases were showing off the recent Captain America movie costumes and props! Erica could hardly contain her excitement - she's a big comic book nerd like me!

After a quick visit to the Archives and a mini tour of her building, our friend joined Erica and me for a quick tour of the lot itself. The fun thing about being on a studio lot is seeing it so busy with activity! I couldn't help but spy a production truck for Once Upon a Time as we made our way to the commissary. Most of the filming for Once happens in Canada, but my mom and I actually came across them filming one scene for the show in Burbank. I'm not sure if they were actually filming on the lot that day or not, but it sure was fun to see!

Walking around on the lot is like a visit back in time - so many of the buildings and signage is reminiscent of a different time; different era. It's so authentic to Walt Disney's time there, for example, that Disney didn't have to change a whole lot when they filmed scenes for Saving Mr. Banks on the lot (note the font used for "Stage A" above). In fact, Stage A is a film location for the Saving Mr. Banks film! It was used for a scene in which Pamela meets the Sherman Brothers for the first time. Originally built a scoring stage for orchestras, Stage A has been the home to many of Disney's classic soundtracks. This includes films such as Fantasia, Babes in Toyland, Mary Poppins, Tangled, and more! The building is unique as it's actually constructed as a building within a building to help with noise control. It's now Disney's key stage for music and sound dubbing, and is still in use today!

Just around the corner from Stage A, you'll find the lot's Movie Theater. This is a screening theater Disney uses to preview new movies before their release for executives and Disney employees. It was also featured in Saving Mr. Banks due to its proximity to the Animation building directly across from it. (During filming, the marquee was covered with an advertisement for Snow White.)

Most of Saving Mr. Banks took place in and around the animation building. This is one of the larger older buildings on the lot, and was the home to Walt Disney's office. I love that we can go inside this office when visiting - the walls are lined with so many cool things! My personal favorites are the sketches and in-progress prints and cells from some of my favorite Disney classics. Erica is pictured with sketchbooks from Beauty and the Beast!

After saying goodbye to my friend, I offered Erica a quick tour/walk through the studio lot itself. These stages are so cool! They are numbered in order of age, with Stage 1 being the first we happened upon. Stage 1 is the smallest of the stages on the lot, but it's also the oldest (built in 1940). It's had a variety of roles in addition to being a soundstage, including being used to repair army vehicles during World war II! The first motion picture to ever film there was Fantasia, but was most famous for being the stage for the original Mickey Mouse Club. The MMC was so impactful that Disney decided to honor that history by re-dedicating it in honor of the most famous member of the Club, Annette Funicello. 

The next stage we went up to was Stage 2 - the second oldest and largest stage on the lot. It has a similar colorful history, but is best known by Disney fans as being the stage where Mary Poppins was filmed. It was eventually dedicated to Julie Andrews for her roles in two films shot here - both the previously mentioned Mary Poppins and, more recently, The Princess Diaries.

The last stage I just had to show Erica was my personal favorite, Stage 4. This stage is most well known for being home to Home Improvement during its eight year run on TV. Currently, it's home to one of my favorite shows, Blackish.

Alas, our quick tour had to come to an equally quick close and we had to hurry back to our car. We had tattoos to get after all, and didn't want to be late since our tattooist was coming in on his day off just to do that for us. I am so extremely grateful for being allowed to visit the studio lot again with Erica. They say that Los Angeles is the city of dreams, and that may be true, but for me... California as a whole is the state of dreams! So many of mine have been realized since moving here! You're never going to get me to leave :)

I have many, many more adventures to write about from the last few months, and I promise to get to them. But for now... I must sleep! Have a great week, y'all!

Until next time...

--- Becks

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