You've all heard or read about the old days of Disney when employees enjoyed their lunch hour by playing softball, table tennis or pitching horse shoes. Just in case you didn't believe a Disney Studio like this ever existed here's a photograph I took some years ago that shows a very different Walt Disney Studio. A studio that's very different than the one we know today.
That's the studio commissary on the left. It was pretty much the same configuration as the original that opened back in the early forties. The building has been through many renovations since that time and though it's more modern and up to date than Walt's original I find it still lacks the charm of the facility I discovered when I arrived back in the fifties. To the right of the photograph you'll see part of the softball field where Disney artists engaged in noontime ball games. You'll notice I said, “artists” and not employees. That's because the majority of the Disney staffers were artists. Once again, a far cry from the Disney of today where it's pretty darn difficult to even find an artist.
Today, the softball field is no more and an ugly building now occupies the grassy space. To be fair, the building has gone through a good deal of renovation recently and is not quite the hideous structure it once was. I had heard that the contract for the Roy O. Disney Building went to the lowest bidder. Having once worked in that awful structure I can't say I'm surprised. The building always felt as though it was about to collapse and during a few California earthquakes it darn near did. After a lengthy retrofit, the structure finally appears solid.
So, now you've had a brief look at an animation studio that once was. Much smaller than the mega corporation of present day it was a little kingdom presided over by the old maestro, Walt Disney. If you were lucky enough to work and play at this magical facility, it's something I guarantee you'll never forget.