When I went out to visit Disney studios last month, they had a surprise for us, something we weren’t allowed to talk about at the time. The release date for the Saving Mr. Banks Blu-Ray (which I reviewed earlier) hadn’t been announced yet, but the team there took us on a tour of the Disney Archives and of a museum display they’d set up for VIPs after the Hollywood premiere of the film.
In the display, they’d set up a recreation of Walt Disney’s own office in the next wing over from where his actual office sat. The materials came from the set of Saving Mr. Banks, for which the film team had rebuilt Disney’s offices from photo references. They had all sorts of other things on display, including a Mary Poppins album by Louis Prima (who voiced King Louie in The Jungle Book too), a Mary Poppins board game, and even the famous Oscar the film earned, with seven little dwarf-Oscars behind it.
Afterward, we walked over to the Disney Archives, where we listened to actual recordings of P. L. Travers (the author of Mary Poppins) discussing the film’s songs with the composers, the Sherman brothers. If you saw Saving Mr. Banks, you heard some of this conversation played over the credits, but we got to listen to close to fifteen minutes worth of the give and take among the three creators and hear a bit of how the Sherman brothers worked hard to give Travers the kinds of songs she wanted to hear.
One personal bonus of this session was seeing the 2009 edition of my Marvel Encyclopedia on the shovels behind the main desk. Since Disney purchased Marvel back in 2009, they needed a handy resource for their new acquisition. When I pointed it out with a grin, they told me they were already looking forward to my 2014 edition—which is out now.
Afterward, Jeffrey Epstein—leader of the official Disney fan club, D23—took us on a personal tour of the lot. He brought us to the original studios in which they’d filmed Mary Poppins and showed us around the entire area, explaining bits of lore and trivia as we went. It made for an excellent cap to a fascinating day.