A trip to the REAL Disneyland

As I mentioned in the last post, I spent a day in Burbank scoping out Disney Studios, joining a squadron of other gaming media types (including my pal Jessica from All Games Interactive) We were all invited there to not only tour the studios, but also check out the movie itself in digital 3D and then play the game based on the movie on several platforms (and generally mingle amongst ourselves).

This place is cool. It felt a lot like a college campus, with fluffy green patches of land surrounding a lot of the buildings and a lot of fat squirrels running around. There are some great views of green hills/mountains over the horizon, so I imagine it’s to get the creative juices flowing. Sadly, I didn’t get to see any actors walking around.

I’m going to sprinkle in some bad pictures as I write. I say “bad” because my only image-gathering tool is my 1.3-megapixel cell phone camera … not to mention my photography skills are the suck.

Here goes:

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Our tour guide, John, first took us to the common area, where the people who work at the studios mill around, eat and generally interact … like I said, a lot like a college campus. This mouse shrubbery was outside the cafeteria/commisary, which would be of great importance later on. The flagpole you can barely see to the right is one of two that has the Olympic symbols engraved onto them — Walt Disney once had a HUGE role in the Olympics, hence the special poles.

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What can I say? We’re at Disney Studios. Sadly, you actually can’t USE these that street sign to find any destination. I wish I knew that earlier, while I was trying to find the tour group meeting spot. This is a corner near one of the old theatre buildings, which features the sets of handprints on concrete you just saw.

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Away we went to the animation building, where we saw hallways decked out with concept art, cells, early drawing of characters that were tweaked and re-tweaked until the voice actors were brought on board, so they would be tweaked again. We’re told that the process for making movies this way would take about 4 to 5 years. I’d have more pics for you, but a lot of what I took here was blurry and would murder your eyes.

Then, we went to the archives.

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Seeing the Disney archives was one of the big highlights of the tour. We were taken to a room where we’d see a bevy of items — books, cels, figures, you name it — that were used or related to the Disney empire in some way. It was like a museum. Hopefully, you’ll recognize the wardrobe from “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

After ogling the archives, we took a step outside and saw one of the cooler pieces of architecture I’ve seen in a long time.


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Very nice. The reason for this concept was because Walt Disney wanted to pay homage to “Snow White and The Seven Dwarves,” which we’re told is the film that really served as the company’s financial (and inspirational) jumping off point. So, he wanted to show how the dwarves were “carrying” the company and built this in the mid-80s. This is the building where the big dogs like Robert Iger are supposed to be. I think that makes this a little creepy in a powerful, pantheon kind of way. If you were to fight Iger in a boss battle, it would have to be in this building, no? Let’s move on … to the land of props (real props, not Randy Jackson you’re-my-dawg abstract props).

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Any fans of “Tron” here? This is the actual sign for Flynn’s arcade that they used in that movie. The prop warehouse here is loaded with an outstanding array of cool stuff. There are weapons, chairs, a scoreboard, aliens … and a LOT of caskets. Which seemed fitting when I saw this right outside of the hand-held prop room:

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I shouldn’t have to say this but … no, that guy’s not real. That does it for my shots.

After our tour, we ended up going back to the commissary, which was good because I was ready to start chomping on some grass to avoid the hunger headache. Then came a trek to the screening theater for the viewing of “Meet the Robinsons.” I saw movie critic Leonard Maltin hanging out there (didn’t say hi or give him a pound, though) and in we went, stopping by to scoop up some popcorn on the way.

I won’t review the movie here — we already have people for that — but I really enjoyed it. It’s a nice take on the concept of adoption, though I thought it started out a little slow at the beginning in terms of setting everything up. Then again, maybe those are my impatient gamer instincts, I don’t know — hell, the last movie I saw before this was “300.”

One of my favorite scenes involved the Robinson family dinner/food fight, which ends up playing out like a badly dubbed kung-fu movie confrontation, right down to the dialogue and slightly aged, almost grainy film look. I thought it was genius.

Then came time for the game, which at first glance, looks like a pretty solid mission-based platformer. I’ll have more later after I play with it more today. If you made it this far, thanks for the time. Until then.