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Walking around Walt 's backyard high in the Hollywood Hills at Disney's Woking Way house

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Walking around Walt 's backyard high in the Hollywood Hills at Disney's Woking Way house

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Greetings from LA. I'm out in Tinsel Town this week for some JHM & HuffPost-related business. But while I was out West ... Well, I wanted to get a few items off of my Hollywood-related bucket list. So my first stop yesterday was the Hollywood Heritage Museum.


Photo by Jim Hill

For those of you who don't know this genuinely historic place, it's the barn-looking building on North Highland that sits right across the street from the Hollywood Bowl. And the reason that the Hollywood Heritage Museum looks like a barn is that -- back in December of 1913 -- it really was a barn. One that used to sit at the corner of Selma & Vine.


Photo by Jim Hill

Ah, but Jesse Lansky, Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn) and Cecil B. DeMille were looking for a place to shoot "The Squaw Man." Which was to become the first feature film ever to be shot in Hollywood. And this barn seemed to be exactly what Jesse, Sam & Cecil were looking for (i.e., it had a great location plus lots of natural light. And it was available for lease for just $250).

And from those extreme humble beginnings, Tinsel Town was born. And it wouldn't be all that long after "The Squaw Man" before the first true Hollywood epic -- Douglas Fairbanks' 1922 version of "Robin Hood" -- was in production. Over the years, I've actually gotten to interview a few old timers who recall the million dollar sets for this action-adventure which used to sit at the corner of Santa Monica & La Brea.


Photo by Jim Hill

And -- of course -- the stars who made all of these movies needed stylish places to stay. Which is why -- in the late 1920s -- you began to see towers rise around Hollywood. Take -- for example -- La Belle Tour, which was built along Franklin Avenue back in 1929.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

I know, I know. La Belle Tour (which movie tough guy George Raft had a partial interest in and called his home for a number of years) looks eerily familiar to all you Disney theme park fans out there. And that's because -- back in the early 1990s -- this building was one of the many classic Holllywood structures that the Imagineers referenced when they were designing the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror for Disney-MGM Studio Theme Park.


Photo by Jim Hill

The "Hollywood Tower" sign facing out onto the northbound freeway, I'm sure you'll recognize from the WDW version of this thrill ride. And speaking of riding, it was now time for me to motor on down Hollywood Boulevard.


Photo by Jim Hill

You see, I hadn't been by the Disney Studio Store since Ghirardelli had revamped the place. Setting up its own chocolate shop & soda fountain right next door to the El Capitan Theatre. And while I will admit that I miss the more "Golden Age of Hollywood" stylings that this retail / dining establishment had under the previous management, Ghirardelli did a nice job of contemporizing the space.


Photo by Jim Hill

I especially liked the Disney-themed mural which they'd placed over the entrance to this chocolate shop & soda fountain that showed Mickey & Co. shooting a short.


Photo by Jim Hill

I also just had to check out that new Studio Replica that the talented folks at S  / R Labs had created which showed what Elsa might have looked like if Walt Disney Animation Studios had decided to make "Frozen" as a 2D movie.


Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of "Frozen," the sing-along version of this Academy Award-winning animated feature is still going strong right next door. It'll be finishing up its run at the El Capitan on September 11th.


A Mom brings a little Elsa to the El Cap for
the "Frozen" sing-along. Photo by Jim Hill

And after that ... Well, I got the chance to take part in a very special event. Late yesterday afternoon, I and a handful of very lucky reporters and bloggers were driven up high into the Hollywood Hills for a cocktail party.


Photo by Jim Hill

"How high up in the Hollywood Hills?," you ask. This was the view of LA that I had from this house's backyard.


A closer lot at LA. Photo by Jim Hill

"And whose house was this?," you query. Would you believe Walt Disney's? The one that he and his family occupied from 1932 to 1950?


Photo by Jim Hill

I apologize for not being able to share any images of the interior of this home. Which the new owners have lovingly restored to the point that it lovingly recaptures the spirit of the times that Walt, Lillian, Diane and Sharon lived here. But at this Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment event, attendees were able to wander the grounds and take pictures of the exterior of the Woking Way house.


Photo by Jim Hill

Which is why I'm now able to share pictures of the comfortable nooks & crannies found around the outside of this house.


Photo by Jim Hill

Not to mention the beautifully maintained gardens.


Photo by Jim Hill

I promise to share more about my visit to the Woking Way house as we get closer to the official release date for the Blu-ray & DVD of the Diamond Edition of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty." Not to mention "Maleficent." But before I close here, I wanted to share one quick picture of this house's steep / cobble-stoned driveway ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... Which is one of the main reasons that Walt decide to sell the place in 1950 and then move to Holmby Holmes. He honestly didn't relish the idea of then-17 year-old Diane learning to drive and then having to move a car up & down that narrow, dangerous driveway.

And speaking of Diane ... Honestly, my favorite part of the Woking Way house is that this structure is still in the backyard.


Photo by Jim Hill

It's the playhouse that Walt had Disney Studio artisans build overnight one Christmas Eve as a special gift from Santa for his girls.


Photo by Jim Hill

Back in the day, it had working plumbing as well as a telephone. Where -- periodically -- Diane & Sharon would get calls from a S. Claus (who sounded suspiciously like their father) to see if they were still being good little girls.

Anyway ... I apologize for this story being so short. But I have to get back to the Woking Way house for the second half of this "Sleeping Beauty / Maleficent" media event. But I promise more stories & photos later, okay?

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  • Nice! I just saw a photo essay over the weekend of some recent photos inside the Woking Way house (the latest owners have done a nice job of bringing back to the way the house was when Walt owned it), but can I find the website? Of course not...

  • I'm obsessed with Disney's former homes. I have seen the real estate photos of the Woking Way home from 2011. I scour the internet for shots of the original interior. I have often wondered if the Disney Archives have any photos. I would love to see you do a full article on this home along with any interior shots (current or otherwise) that you may have access to. Same for the Lyric Avenue house and the Carolwood house.

  • http://waltdisneylahome.com/

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