The newest documentary to hit Disney+ is one that any Disney fan or someone who is curious about the magic can enjoy and be informed by. “Adventures Thru the Walt Disney Archives” was a documentary that was created originally for D23 members to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the archives, but was then brought to the streaming service for everyone to enjoy.
Started by the late Disney Legend Dave Smith in 1969 shortly after Walt Disney’s untimely death, the Walt Disney Archives is the premier film and TV archive documenting entertainment history from every division of the company.
“The archive captures the story of Walt Disney, and moreover, our lives,” said Don Hahn, who is the funny and affable host of the documentary. Hahn, a big Disney fan and producer of landmark Disney animated films like “Beauty and the Beast,” essentially represents us throughout the entire one-hour tour of essentially the true Disney Vault (not the marketing one created to sell more VHS and DVDs).
It’s a vault because the archive obtains, stores, restores, and safeguards physical items that have contributed to Disney’s films, TV shows, theme parks, consumer products, and more. They can include items like handprinted concept art for early films like Sleeping Beauty to past theme park attraction vehicles like Heimlich’s Choo-Choo Train.
Director of the documentary John Gleim said that they wanted to feature a handful of items that would capture the width and depth of Disney’s footprint in entertainment and pop culture. “There are thousands of items, but we feel like we captured a great snapshot of behind-the-scenes Disney and what it is like to be in the archives itself.”
The Walt Disney Archives is actually multiple locations in undisclosed locations in and around the Los Angeles area and is not open to the public. It is, however, accessible to Disney employees who do end up visiting the archives as a reference library for their current and future projects.
Many of the items in the documentary have never been show publicly before, even with all the places like museums and fan events that the archives partners with. But they all point to the story of Walt Disney and his creativity that powered everything that now is today. The documentary appropriately ends with an exclusive detailed tour of Walt Disney’s office on the lot at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.
“That’s why we specifically call it the Walt Disney Archives,” said Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives. “If there’s one thing that we pride ourselves in is that. We don’t forget where we come from, and it helps point our dreams toward the future like Walt would have wanted.”
“Adventures Thru the Walt Disney Archives” is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.
Our special thanks to Don Hahn, John Gleim, and Becky Cline for contributing to this story.