After 40 years, Don Bluth returns to Walt Disney Animation Studios. This was something for the history books. I am extremely grateful that I got to be part of these moments & talks of the future. Why was Don Bluth at Disney Animation you ask? Well, some of that must remain a SECRET! However, I can discuss some of the experiences we had and include some photos!

Let’s begin!

Upon entering the Roy E. Disney Animation Building through the Sorcerer’s Hat, we met with Steve Anderson, the director of Meet the Robinsons and Winnie the Pooh. We came upon the front desk and in huge letters it reads Walt Disney Animation Studios. In the main lobby, you see artwork from every era of the Walt Disney Company, which was amazing to see such great history.

DonBluthNewAnimationBuilding

We continued walking the halls with Steve, he showed us around the walls where they placed Disney Animation art from the past. We couldn’t spend too much time here because we had appointments, but next time I hope we can!

Don Bluth discussing Disney Art
Don Bluth discussing Disney Art

Once through, we came upon the production of Frozen 2 (we can’t show any of this, sorry!), then continued to the directors’ offices. There we met with Disney director Ron Clements. I took a picture of Ron and Don and, I just had to ask for a picture too. 🙂

Don Bluth & Ron Clements
Don Bluth & Ron Clements

LavalleLee&RonClements

After meeting with Ron Clements, we continued down the offices and ran into Burny Mattinson. It was great listening to the stories between Burny & Don and their time together working for Walt Disney himself. Burny has been at the Walt Disney company the longest out of all the animation artists. He was very humble and nice to talk with. He had to run, but said he would join us later for lunch.

We continued down the hall and met with Howard Green, Don spotted him right away and said, “Howard!”. We chatted for a bit and Howard insisted we go downstairs where they were animating “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2”. None of us were going to turn down that invitation! We went downstairs through the common area (small cafeteria), to a hall where it said, “No Unauthorized People Beyond this Point”. We just walked right through with Howard & Steve and could hear all the animators clicking away at their mouses animating scenes for Wreck-It Ralph 2.

We walked down the halls to some of the offices and met Mark Henn! To our SURPRISE! Mark was working on a Disney Traditional Animation desk! This was a sight to see! Nothing makes me more happy to see hand-drawn animation still being done at Disney in some shape or form.

DonBluthMarkHennLavalleLee

We continued (I sure use this word a lot..lol) down the halls of Wreck-It Ralph 2 and went in to one of the animation rooms with some of the animators. Bert Klein the creator of “Pups of Liberty” a hand-drawn animated short series was there said, “Hey, it’s Lavalle Lee!”. To my surprise, I finally get to meet Bert in person! Bert gave Don the rundown of CG animation, and showed the scene he was working on and how they use live-action reference when animating digitally in CG.

Lavalle Lee, Bert Klein, and Don Bluth
Lavalle Lee, Bert Klein, and Don Bluth

It was time for LUNCH! So we headed over the the executive building to eat at the Rotunda surrounded by the suits. Again, being a fly on the wall listening to all the stories between Burny & Don working for Walt and being trained by the 9 Old Men. I can’t even explain how awesome this was. The waiter serving us remembered Don from his time there, which I thought was pretty funny. We all posed for a picture afterwards.

From the Left: Burny Mattinson, Steve Anderson, Don Bluth, Lavalle Lee, Howard Green
From the Left: Burny Mattinson, Steve Anderson, Don Bluth, Lavalle Lee, Howard Green

On our way out we took a photo of Burny and Don infront of “The Legends Plaza”.

Burny Mattinson & Don Bluth in front of The Legends Plaza
Burny Mattinson & Don Bluth in front of The Legends Plaza

Once we were all done with lunch, Howard invited us to take a tour of Walt Disney’s original office. Everything was in it’s original place and you could just feel in the atmosphere and the history.

Animation Building Don Bluth & Lavalle Lee
Animation Building Don Bluth & Lavalle Lee

I will just place these here:

Walt's Office Guestbook
Walt’s Office Guestbook
Walt's Awards
Walt’s Awards
Walt's Secretary
Walt’s Secretary
Walt's Ashtray
Walt’s Ashtray
Walt Disney's Original Desk
Walt Disney’s Original Desk
Walt's Office Piano
Walt’s Office Piano
Walt's Office Bookshelf
Walt’s Office Bookshelf
Don Bluth & Lavalle Lee in front of Walt Disney's Desk
Don Bluth & Lavalle Lee in front of Walt Disney’s Desk
From Left: Howard Green, Burny Mattinson, Don Bluth, Steve Anderson, Lavalle Lee
From Left: Howard Green, Burny Mattinson, Don Bluth, Steve Anderson, Lavalle Lee
Walt's Desk Statuettes
Walt’s Desk Statuettes
Don Bluth & Burny Mattinson in front of Walt's Bar
Don Bluth & Burny Mattinson in front of Walt’s Bar
Item's on Walt's Desk
Item’s on Walt’s Desk
Walt's Second Back Office
Walt’s Second Back Office
Don Bluth & Lavalle Lee in Walt's Second Back Office
Don Bluth & Lavalle Lee in Walt’s Second Back Office
Ed Wynn Photo
Ed Wynn Photo
Walt's Report
Walt’s Report
Production Staff Model Sheet
Production Staff Model Sheet

Now I must tell you, if you ever and I mean EVER get a change to visit Walt Disney’s original office. DO IT! To think this was the office where Walt met with so many talented people, made decisions that changed American history and so much more. This is something I will never forget and always cherish.

Once we finished visiting Walt Disney’s office, we had a few very important things left to do. But we will save that for another time.

Executive Building
Executive Building

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The Author

Lavalle Lee

Lavalle Lee

Lavalle has been making animated online cartoons since 2001 for his website flashcartoons.org. In 2009 Lavalle started learning from Don Bluth in his hand-drawn animation classes, as well as attending his Masterclasses in Arizona. In 2011 he started this website after seeing most animation sites were about all types of animation, not any specific to classical hand drawn animation. Lavalle also is the host of the popular online series. "The Traditional Animation Show". Lavalle is currently working for Don Bluth Films as a Production Manager and helped champion Dragon's Lair: The Movie Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign.

5 Comments

  1. July 17, 2018 at 5:19 pm — Reply

    Wow! What a great time you both must have had. I know Burny did animation of Rabbit on “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too” and Don did as well. Beautiful stuff! I hope Don felt some of that old Disney magic.

  2. Philip Kaplan
    July 17, 2018 at 9:50 pm — Reply

    That is terrific. I love it that Don had a chance to go back and take a walk down memory lane…literally.

  3. Refael Adir
    July 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm — Reply

    Very excited to see this wonderful man there.
    Don had given him a lot of creativity in this place

  4. Gaye Smith Zezulka
    July 18, 2018 at 7:17 pm — Reply

    A trip down memory lane! Disney was very fortunate to have you as part of their team. You have been blessed with Incredible talent.
    Thank you for sharing the tour.

  5. Kip Zartman
    July 19, 2018 at 10:55 am — Reply

    It is nice to see some pictures where Walt Disney and Roy Disney worked. Also Don Blyth and his return I would love to go see the studios and some your art work and get met you guys. I just to say thank you for sharing and seeing great people and what you people do to bring happiness in all are lives. Thank you Don

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