***Disclosure: I attended The #DisneyFrozenEvent . My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney and myself. Pictures are all mine. All opinions are 100% mine. ***
Ever wanted to peek behind the curtain of the Disney Studio Lot? Now you can! Plus, a lot of these pictures are where they filmed key scenes in Saving Mr. Banks. See if you can spot them AND I also have some fun Saving Mr. Banks Fun Facts to share with you. So let’s get on to the pics!
- Walt Disney began his quest to get the rights to P.L. Travers’ book “Mary Poppins” in the early 1940s. Although it took nearly 20 years to obtain the rights, when “Mary Poppins” was finally made, it won five awards of its 13 Academy Award® nominations: Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Effects, Best Film Editing, Original Score and Original Song. Among the nominations were Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film also won a technical Oscar® for Petro Vlahos, Wadsworth Pohl and Ub Iwerks for conception and perfection of techniques of color traveling matte composite cinematography.
- Richard and Robert Sherman composed the original score and wrote the 1964 Oscar®-winning song “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” They are portrayed in the film by Jason Schwartzman (Richard) and B.J. Novak (Robert).
- The filmmakers were able to access a wonderful resource in making “Saving Mr. Banks”: The Walt Disney Family Museum in The Presidio of San Francisco. Opened in October 2009, the museum was co-founded by Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and grandson, Walter E.D. Miller, and is owned and operated by the nonprofit Walt Disney Family Foundation. The 40,000 square foot exhibition facility features the newest technology and historic materials and artifacts to bring Disney’s achievements to life.
- “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers’ father, Travers Goff, was a banker and is the basis for the “Mary Poppins” story’s patriarch, Mr. Banks—the character in the book whom the famous fictional nanny comes to aid.
- “Saving Mr. Banks” is the first feature-length, theatrical drama to depict the iconic entrepreneur Walt Disney, with two-time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) stepping into the major role.
- During casting trips to Australia, director John Lee Hancock and producer Alison Owen went to Maryborough, Queensland, to get a firsthand look at where P.L. Travers had once lived as a child.
- In order to achieve an authentic look for her portrayal of “Mary Poppins” author, P. L. Travers, Emma Thompson chose to have her own hair permed in tight curls for the film and did not don a wig. Tom Hanks also grew his own mustache to match Walt Disney’s.
- Actor Jason Schwartzman, at 32, is the same age as his character, songwriter Richard Sherman, was when this story takes place in 1961; and, actor B.J. Novak, at 34, is the same age as his character, sibling songwriter Robert Sherman, was at the time.
- Before filming the Australian flashback scenes, actor Colin Farrell, who plays P.L. Travers’ father, realized he would not get a chance to meet the other cast members who populated the 1961 portion of the story. Since Farrell admired the work of his fellow cast members, he hosted a dinner at his Hollywood home that included a screening of “Mary Poppins” as well. About 25 people showed up and had a fun evening getting to know each other and watching the timeless film.
- “Saving Mr. Banks” marks the first time that paternal half-brothers John (director of photography) and actor Jason Schwartzman (playing composer Richard Sherman) have ever worked together. The offspring of industry lawyer and producer Jack Schwartzman, Jason’s mom is Oscar®-nominated actress Talia Shire (“Godfather,” “Rocky”), making Shire John’s stepmom (and making both guys nephews of Francis Ford Coppola).
- Playing an extra in the film was Leigh Anne Tuohy, the heroine of the book and movie “The Blind Side,” coincidentally directed by John Lee Hancock. In “Saving Mr. Banks,” she plays a Disneyland visitor who asks Walt Disney for his autograph just after the arrival of “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers.
- In the film, P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson, opens her hotel suite door in Beverly Hills to find her room cluttered with Disney memorabilia (courtesy of set decorator Susan Benjamin, who stuffed the suite with everything from a six-foot stuffed Mickey Mouse to balloons). Disney’s current president of production, veteran filmmaker and executive Sean Bailey, was inspired to turn the tables on Emma Thompson. He decorated Thompson’s hotel room in Los Angeles with as much Disney memorabilia as he could fit into her room. About a week later, Bailey received a note of thanks from Thompson, in which she asked if they had a video camera planted somewhere in her suite to capture her reaction!
- “Saving Mr. Banks” filmed entirely in the Los Angeles area, with key locations that included Disneyland in Anaheim, TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) in Hollywood (where the 1964 premiere of “Mary Poppins” took place), the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank (which opened in 1940 and where the 1964 movie filmed in its entirety) and the 10,000 acre Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley (which doubled for the film’s early 20th-century Australian landscape). • “Saving Mr. Banks” was only the third feature film to ever shoot scenes at Disneyland. The last feature to film at the park was Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, “That Thing You Do,” with only one other film before that to shoot inside the 58-year-old theme park—Norman Jewison’s 1962 directorial debut, “40 Pounds of Trouble.”
- The Walt Disney Studios’ lot is home to one of Los Angeles’ largest sound stages (Stage 2), now christened the “Julie Andrews Stage” because the 31,200 square foot building housed much of the filming of “Mary Poppins” in 1963.
- Director John Lee Hancock needed a vast landscape of rolling hills and shrubbery to duplicate the remote Australian outback of a century ago. Veteran location manager Andrew Ullman found sites at the 10,000-acre Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, Calif., that were so impressive that young Australian actress Annie Buckley’s father, Dean, thought he was actually back in his homeland.
- Before production began, director John Lee Hancock brought some of the cast over to the legendary Capitol Records Building, at the famous crossroads of Hollywood and Vine, to pre-record tracks of some of the Sherman Brothers’ songs from “Mary Poppins.” The session was for playback purposes on those days when production staged the scenes with the Sherman Brothers and screenwriter DaGradi singing for P.L. Travers. The group spent a fun-filled afternoon in one of the Capitol sound studios singing snippets of such songs featured in “Saving Mr. Banks” as “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds,” “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”
Want to Take The Tour Yourself?
Walt Disney Studios is offering guests a special event in celebration of the upcoming release of Saving Mr. Banks. The event gives guests the chance to see the film in a theater on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, and then an opportunity to walk in Walt’s footsteps on a tour of the lot. The limited engagement features one show each night at 7pm and runs from December 13 through December 19. Tickets are $50 each and you can click through to the website to purchase.
The “Walt in Walt’s Footsteps” tour after the reserved seating screening includes photo opportunities with Mickey Mouse, Mary Poppins, and Bert, and a chance to see sets from Saving Mr. Banks, such as Walt Disney’s office and Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers’ home. Guests will also visit the Walt Disney Animation building and Legends Plaza to see the many historical plaques, including Walt Disney, Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, and many more. Guests will also receive a 50th Anniversary Mary Poppins DVD.
To purchase tickets to this limited and exclusive engagement, call 1 (800)DISNEY6 or click through to the site.