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!
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.
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!
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
On our way out we took a photo of Burny and Don infront 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.
I will just place these here:
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.