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I love learning the behind the scenes of movies. It brings so much more depth, love and respect for a story when you are able to see exactly what was put into making a movie. I’m always shocked and amazed when I find out exactly what it took. There is so much work put into making a movie, that I don’t think I could ever fully comprehend it all. While I was in Los Angeles in February for my Disney Grand Adventure, I had the opportunity to take and amazing behind the scene look at Saving Mr. Banks and the Mary Poppins story. I love both the Mary Poppins Movie and Saving Mr. Banks so I really enjoyed this behind the scene look. This tour consisted of three separate parts that I am excited to share with you.
I loved the Saving Mr. Banks Walking Tour. This tour we were able to see all kinds of Mary Poppins merchandise dated from as old as the mid nineteen sixties. All of these items came from the Walt Disney archives collections. We learned that these collections were from the united States as well as internationally from countries such as France, Germany, Italy, um, Argentina, Mexico, Japan. I wish that I had a collection like this including things such as “lunch boxes to commemorative plates, viewfinders, puppets, you name it we have it.”
This tour then took us through the hallway which was one of my favorite parts of the tour. Lining the walls of this hallway was photos taken from the filming of Mary Poppins. These aren’t your typical photos, though. If you look closely, in these photos you can see stage, wires, ladders, green screens and more reminding you how this film was really made. It was made entirely indoors on sound stages. That is amazing to me that they can create a whole story and location on a stage.
The walking tour took us through different rooms where there were displays related to the making of Saving Mr. Banks. I loved seeing all of the story boards and the process that was put in to making the movie. I would love to see how many story boards it takes to make a movie! When you watch Saving Mr. Banks, you’ll have to look for these different items. You will be able to pick many of them out in the scene. It was so funny re-watching the movie and being able to point out sets that I was able to see while on my tour. I loved their amazing attention to detail as they recreated scenes exactly as they would have been for Walt Disney.
One of my favorite experiences was getting a grand tour of Disney Studios from Jeffery Epstein, Marketing Manager for D23. He showed us where many scenes from the movie were filmed and answered a lot of questions. Here are some of the things that I found most important in this tour:
Q: What does D23 stand for?
A. D stands for Disney. 23 stands for 1923 which was the year the company was founded, when Walt moved to Southern California to be with his brother Roy and set up shop in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Jeffery Epstein: “He (Walt Disney) loved showing people behind-the-scenes looks on things. Those of you who’ve seen Saving Mr. Banks, the studio theater is seen a couple of times, once when, Emma Thompson as PL Travers and Bradley Woodford as Don Whitford as Don DaGradi are driving to go meet Walt, they drive right by the theater. (The theater is pictured above)
Jeffery Epstein: “Um, the other interesting thing is, uh, right up there, this office here on the top corner, that was where Richard and Robert Sherman had their offices when they, uh, were on the Disney Studio lot. And I only know that because Richard Sherman himself told me, which is pretty cool.” (pictured above)
Jeffery Epstein:: “The production was so tremendous that it used every sound stage on the Disney Studio lot, which was four at the time, as well as several off-site sound stages. Stage One here was used for part of the Banks’ home as well as Uncle Albert’s home where they filmed the I Love to Laugh sequence, and has been used obviously for many other projects before and since. Soundstage Two is where the rest of the Banks’ home was, as well as the bank, that they had from the film. But what is particularly special about Stage Two is that it is dedicated as the Julie Andrews stage, because not only did she obviously spend a significant amount of time here filming.”
If you are not familiar with D23, I highly recommend checking it out. There are three level of memberships. There is the free level of membership which gives you access to their website which has “the complete Disney A to Z which was written by Dave Smith, Disney legend, and the founder of the archives.” The Silver level of membership gets you an annual member gift, a membership card, a membership certificate, access to all of the discounts. And the gold level members gets you the Disney 23 Magazine.
I was able to get a copy of the Saving Mr. Banks Disney twenty-three magazine and it is fantastic. It is filled with beautiful photos, behind the scenes and great information.
The Walt Disney Archive was really cool. We went into the archives room, sat around a table and had the opportunity to listen to actual recording made of the meetings between Walt Disney and Pamela Travers. As you would recall from the movie, she made sure that all of their meetings were recorded. Wasn’t that fantastic, so we now have this recorded treasure! The recordings were mostly Walt Disney, Richard and Robert Sherman and P.L. Travers. This session was with Steven Vagnini in the Walt Disney Studio Archives in the Frank G. Wells Building.
Here are some items that I found most interesting from this sessions:
Steven Vagnini: “Stay awake, don’t nod and dream, don’t rest your head. and P.L. Travers seemed to like that very much, because it was very much in Mary Poppins’ character. Uh, to do the unexpected. And so, uh, when that song was gonna be cut from the film, she actually, uh, protested a bit, wanting that song to stay.”
Steven Vagnini: “Feed The Birds is one that touched Walt very much, because he always felt that it was one that really summed up the whole picture. The meaning is, it doesn’t take that much to make someone stay. You know, to mend it tight, you know, in that regard. And that was really the point of MARY POPPINS, that, uh, Walt Disney really enjoyed. So on Friday afternoons when he, you know, that, uh, Walt would often ask he Sherman brothers to come up to his office and play it, uh, play Feed The Birds. And they would play Feed The Birds on those Friday afternoons for him.”
Q: How much of the backstory for P.L. Travers’ childhood was accurate?
Steven Vagnini: “That’s a good question. Uh, P.L. Travers herself, uh, did not like to have her own history, you know, revealed. Uh, [STAMMERING] she wanted to remain a mystery in many ways, from interviews that we read. Uh, so as we were not, uh, historians of P.L. Travers personal life, we were not involved in that aspect of the research for the film. Uh, so they worked closely with, uh, family members of P.L. Travers, from what I understand. Uh, certainly a biography that had been written on her, called MARY POPPINS SHE WROTE.”
I loved these photographs. Pamela Travers, Author of Mary Poppins is on the left and on the right you will find Pamela Travers with Walt Disney at the Mary Poppins Premiere in Los Angeles.
I loved learning all the behind the scenes about Saving Mr Banks. I already had loved the movie, but it made me love it even more! Thank you Disney for allowing me to have this amazing opportunity! Disney provided me with a trip to Los Angeles for this behind the scenes look at Saving Mr. Banks. All opinions are my own.