|The Walt Disney Company
500 S. Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91521
This is Walt Disney Studios, home of the greatest fantasy & animated films ever made. Starting with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937 (the first full length animated movie), the list of Disney hits reads like a "Who's Who" of classic animated films:
"Pinocchio" (1940), "Fantasia" (1940), "Dumbo" (1941), "Bambi" (1942), "Song of the South" (1946), "Cinderella" (1950), "Alice in Wonderland" (1951), "Peter Pan" (1953), "Lady & the Tramp" (1955), "Sleeping Beauty" (1959), "101 Dalmatians" (1961), "Mary Poppins" (1964), "Jungle Book" (1967), and "The Rescuers" (1977).
And that's in addition to Disney's live action adventures ("Treasure Island," "Old Yeller," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Swiss Family Robinson"), his live action comedies ("The Love Bug," "The Absent-Minded Professor," "That Darned Cat"), and such TV hits as "Davy Crockett," "Zorro" and "The Mickey Mouse Club."
Walt Disney still holds the Guinness World Record for the most Academy Awards won by any individual - walking away with 31 Oscars. And Disney was the first major movie studio to make programs directly for television (beginning in 1954).
The studio went through some lean times following Walt's death in 1966, but in recent years, Disney animation has undergone a glorious renaissance, with such new classics as "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty & the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Lion King," Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Hercules" and "Mulan" joining the Disney roster, together with live action movies such as "Flubber," "Mighty Joe Young," "Angels in the Outfield" and the "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" series. Their last few animated efforts, though, such as "The Emperor's New Groove" and "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" have missed the mark. But their CGI efforts, such as "Tarzan" and "Monsters Inc." have taken up some of the slack until they get back on the classic track. And the recent "Lilo & Stich" has proved a strong success.
Meanwhile, Disney's two other divisions, "Touchstone Pictures" and "Hollywood Pictures," have produced a remarkable streak of hits, including "The Sixth Sense," "Down & Out in Beverly Hills," "Three Men and a Baby," "Sister Act" and "Pretty Woman," making them one of the most successful modern studios in Hollywood. (The studio made at least one big mistake, though: they turned down Steven Spielberg in 1982, when he offered them "E.T.: the Extra Terrestrial.")
In recent years, the studio has released "The Incredibles," "Ladder 49," "The Village," "The Alamo," "Pirates Of The Caribbean," "Hidalgo," "Open Range," "Finding Nemo", "Freaky Friday," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Lilo & Stitch," "Signs," "Pearl Harbor," "Monsters, Inc.," "The Princess Diaries," "Spy Kids," "In The Bedroom," "The Santa Clause 2", "Bridget Jones' Diary," "crazy/beautiful," "Snow Dogs," "Gone in 60 Seconds," "102 Dalmations," "Coyote Ugly," "Dinosaur," "Fantasia 2000," "Toy Story 2," "Bicentennial Man," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Runaway Bride," "Inspector Gadget," "Tarzan," "Life is Beautiful," "My Favorite Martian, "A Civil Action," "Mighty Joe Young," "Shakespeare in Love," "The Waterboy," "Enemy of the State," "Angels In The Outfield," "A Bug's Life," "Armageddon," "Beloved," "The Parent Trap," "Mafia!," "6 Days, 7 Nights," "The Horse Whisperer," "He Got Game," "Good Will Hunting," "Wings of the Dove," "Jackie Brown," "George of the Jungle," "Scream 2," "Face/Off," "Con Air," "The Rock," "Evita," "Ransom," "G.I. Jane," "American Werewolf in Paris," "Starship Troopers," "Phenomenon," "Emma," "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" and "The English Patient."
Disney (Buena Vista) had the largest market share of any studio in 1998, its movies grossing $1.11 billion (edging out Paramount, despite that studio's "Titanic" success.)
Disney has also found major success recently in the television world.
The studio is currently the second largest provider of prime time TV programming, behind only Warner Bros. In 1995, the Walt Disney Company bought out ABC, the television network which first televised The Wonderful World of Disney. Its biggest recent hit was "Home Improvement," which often topped the ratings charts. But in recent years the studio also found success with sitcoms such as "Ellen," "Blossom" and "Dharma & Greg" Currently, they make "Alias," "Dangerous Housewives" and "According to Jim," among others.
But it's not all G-rated anymore at Disney. In 1994, their Hollywood Pictures division released "Color of Night," an erotic thriller not exactly in the Disney tradition. And the Disney studio has also acquired Miramax Pictures, which released such controversial films as "Pulp Fiction," "Sirens," "Wings of the Dove," "Priest" and "Kids." Meanwhile, the coming out of ABC's "Ellen" sparked a boycott of Disney by some Southern Baptists before the show was cancelled.
Disney's very first studio (where he made "Snow White" and such early animated shorts as "The Three Little Pigs") was located just east of downtown Los Angeles, at 2719 Hyperion Avenue (near Los Feliz Blvd). They worked out of that tiny studio for 14 years. But it no longer exists - a supermarket now stands on the spot.
In 1937, needing to expand, Disney used the profits from "Snow White" to buy 51 acres in Burbank (in the Valley), where he built a state-of-the-art animation studio, next to Warner Bros Studios and NBC Studios. All of Disney's classic animated films since 1939 were created at this Burbank studio.
A recent addition to the studio is a large, eccentric, brick & glass building, which faces the main studio gate on the north side of the Disney Studios (at Alameda and Lincoln). It certainly adds "character " to the neighborhood. Seven characters, in fact. Across the south face of the building stand seven 160-foot-tall stone Dwarfs (yes, dwarfs!), arms raised overhead as if holding up the roof. Six of the seven famous dwarfs from Disney's animated classic "Snow White" (Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy, Sleepy, & Bashful) are lined up across the front of the building; the seventh dwarf, little 'Dopey', stands above them, in his oversized clothes, at the apex of the tiled roof.
Just across the street from the studio (to the south) is another recent addition to the lot: the new Animation Building, which looks like something out of "Toontown." With its 85-foot-tall Sorcerer's Apprentice hat, red and white stripes, and the word "ANIMATION" in tall letters, the colorful new complex is easy to spot from the Ventura freeway. The new building houses 600 employees; Roy Disney has his office in the hat.
But other than these huge dwarfs and the Animation building, Disney Studios a looks a lot like most other Hollywood studios, surrounded by a high wall, with only a few of the usual, factory-like sound stages visible from the street. The only other notable landmark visible from the outside is a tall water tower bearing the Disney logo and the colorful cartoon image of Mickey Mouse.
Alas, Disney Studios doesn't offer a studio tour, and no part of the studio is open to the public. Unlike Universal, Disney chose to build his theme park far from his movie studio (see the separate page about Disneyland). So, most people will have to be satisfied with just driving past the studio and admiring the giant dwarfs. ("Giant dwarfs" ? Now that's an oxymoron, if ever I've heard one!)
But before you despair, there is are two roundabout ways to get into Disney Studios (short of getting a job there as an animator):
1. Get tickets to a live taping of one of the few sit-coms that are taped at Disney Studios. Recently, such shows as such as "8 Simple Rules," "My Wife & Kids," "Less Than Perfect" and "Home Improvement" were taped there, Contact "Audiences Unlimited" to see if there are any shows taping there right now. If so, with ticket in hand, you'll be able to breeze past the guarded gates and see at least some part of the fabled studio.
2. I am told that one day a year, in November or December, Disney Studios opens up for an annual Disney's Magic Holiday Faire. It will cost you a $4 to get in, but it will allow you to stroll around most of the studio grounds, plus you'll have an opportunity to buy the hand-made holiday crafts on sale from 250 vendors, pose for photos with Disney costumed characters (and Santa), try your hand at cookie decorating, enjoy food booths,and see Christmas films in the studio's special theatre. Often scheduled for Saturday in November, usually from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the general public.
The studio's normal business hours are Mon Fri: 8 AM - 6 PM.
(Incidentally, if you would like to see a few mementos from the early Burbank days of Disney Studios, visit the nearby Gordon R. Howard Museum, located at 1015 W. Olive Avenue (at Lomita Street) in Burbank, where you'll find posters, early Disney sketches, animation cells and lots of photos from classic Disney productions.)
Getting there: Walt Disney Studios is located in Burbank, right next to NBC Studios (and not far from Warner Bros.). The studio is bordered by Buena Vista Street on the west, Keystone on the east, Alameda Avenue on the north, and Riverside Drive on the south. From the eastbound Ventura (134) Freeway, take the Pass Avenue exit, turn right and go one block south to Alameda Avenue, then turn left (east) on Alameda and go one mile to Disney Studios (at Buena Vista Street). / From the westbound 134, you can get off right at Buena Vista Street, then just turn right (north) past the studio. To reach the giant dwarfs, turn right (east) when you reach Alameda Ave. / From Hollywood, take the Hollywood (101) Freeway north, exit at Barham Boulevard, turn right and go north on Barham (which turns into Olive Street) about two miles, to Riverside Drive. Turn right (east) on Riverside Drive, go less than a mile east, and then turn left (north) on Buena Vista Street. The main gate is on the right.
Farrell Paura Productions, LLC (Production Company)
Harpo Films, Inc. (Production Company)
The Jim Henson Company (Production Company)
Hyde Park Entertainment (Production Company)
Janicek-Marino Creative (Production Company)
Junction Entertainment (Production Company)
LivePlanet (Production Company)
Mandeville Films (Production Company)
Vanguard Films/Vanguard Animation (Production Company)
Robert Iger President/CEO
George Bodenheimer Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks/President, ESPN, Inc. & ABC Sports/Chairman, ESPN Board of Directors
Anne Sweeney Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks/President, Disney-ABC Television Group
Bob Cavallo Chairman, Buena Vista Music Group
Richard Cook Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios
Andrew Mooney Chairman, Disney Consumer Products
James Rasulo Chairman, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Andy Bird President, Walt Disney International
Nina Jacobson President, Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group
David Stainton President, Walt Disney Feature Animation
Steve Wadsworth President, Walt Disney Internet Group
Alan N. Braverman Sr. Executive VP/General Counsel
Thomas O. Staggs Sr. Executive VP/CFO
Zenia Mucha Executive VP, Corporate Communications
Brent Woodford Sr. VP/Corporate Controller
David Caouette VP, Corporate Communications