Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Look Inside Walt Disney's Home

By Keith Mahne

How amazing would it be to take a look into one of Walt Disney's old homes? The place where he raised his daughters and which he came home to each evening after a long days work at the Studio. The place where Walt's interest in obtaining the rights to both Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh began. Well that my friends is exactly what we are going to do today as we peek inside Walt Disney’s Los Feliz Estate!! Have a look inside after the page break...

Walt Disney's private home in the hills of Los Feliz on the eastside of Los Angeles evokes the spirit of his animated, classic fairy tales. Built by Disney's own studio craftsmen for $50,000, Disney lived there with his wife and two daughters from 1932 to 1950. It is the only one of his residences in the area that remains standing. Let's take a look around...

With greenery climbing the walls and a European design, the exterior of Walt's five-bedroom home resembles the dwelling of Princess Aurora and her fairy godmothers in "Sleeping Beauty." It was actually built the year he started work on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

Walt decided to move into a bigger home when his wife Lillian became pregnant with their first child. Sadly, they lost the baby, but welcomed daughters Diane in 1933 and Sharon, in 1936, soon after.

Thankfully, current owners of the home have kept much of it's history visually in tact. The hand-painted ceiling and balcony, under a circular rotunda in the entryway, is much the same 82 years later.

Tudor and French Normandy styles are reflected in the design. Built during the Depression, Walt hired an array of specialized workers, including a young graduate of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, who painted intricate works on the ceilings.

On Christmas mornings, Walt's daughters, Diane and Sharon, would peer down from a Juliette balcony that overlooked the spacious living room. Diane Disney nicknamed the Juliet balcony "Christmas Tree Point" as it offered a perfect vista to keep an eye on their presents and the tree.

This backyard playhouse, which was a present from "Santa" one year, has stood the test of time. Santa would call Diane and Sharon Disney on the phone to see if they liked their presents. Coincidentally, Santa sounded a lot like their father.

Seen here reading to his daughters in one of their bedrooms, Walt would play with them in character, cackling like Maleficent or donning a Pinocchio nose.

The cozy home was fit with stained glass windows and a bevy of unique spaces, including a screening room, a sleeping porch, and an exercise room — which later became a playroom for Disney's daughters.

The move into the new house coincided with Walt's first Academy Award for the cartoon short "Flowers and Trees" (1932).

Walt's home offered stunning sights from atop the hill, with unobstructed views to downtown Los Angeles, eastward mountain ranges, and even his nearby studio on Hyperion Avenue.

Walt weathered some box office bombs during his time at this house, including the disappointing performances of "Dumbo," "Pinocchio," and "Fantasia." But he also developed animated hits while in Los Feliz, including "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Peter Pan," "Cinderella," and "Alice in Wonderland." He was just starting on "Sleeping Beauty" before he moved to a larger property in Holmby Hills, about 10 miles west.

One of Walt's statues he had outside is a little creepy but also extremely awesome.

Here we're able to see Walt's oldest daughter’s room. This was where both Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins started because she loved them. Walt once said, "these stuffed Mickeys are popular all around the country, but in my house, Diane goes to bed with a Winnie the Pooh."

Walt Disney built this beautiful house for $50,000 in 1932, which adjusted for inflation today would add up to $804,150.68. Historians say that some critics, at the time, complained that he was spending a ton of money when so many had nothing. The truth of the matter is that he actually put a TON of people to work during the Great Depression. Walt, without a doubt, worked his tail off for everything he created. Nothing was handed to him! His story is what the American Dream is all about. When I look at this house I do not see opulence, I see a family home of a really great man!

I can't think of a better way to end this article than watching some Walt Disney family footage from this home! Enjoy my friends...




Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four.

Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

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