By Kristina N. Lotz
May 7, 2010 Burbank, California
I was lucky enough to be one of the D23 members (an official Disney fan club launched in 2009 by Bob Iger) who witnessed history in the making yesterday, as The Walt Disney Company dedicated the iconic animation building on the Disney Studio lot in Burbank to Roy E. Disney who passed away in December at age 79.
As I walked through the parking lot and across the street to the animation building for the first time, I could not help but feel a little giddy — This is where the magic happens — as well as sad about the passing of such a well-loved Disney. In the eyes of many fans, including myself, the passing of Roy E. Disney marked the end of a golden age in Disney animated film history. So it was with conflicted emotions that I took my seat and waited.
D23 members joined Disney cast members, members of the Disney family including Roy E. Disney’s children and grandchildren, and, of course, one very famous mouse, for the unveiling. Speakers included Roy’s son, Roy P. Disney, Don Hahn (producer of The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast), and Bob Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
“I always knew that when [Roy’s] red Ferrari was in the parking lot, it was going to be a good day,” recalled Hahn.
Hahn also explained that Bob Iger himself was the one who said the building should be dedicated to Roy E. Disney. Although Iger humbly tried to dismiss this claim, it was obvious from his speech that he truly respected what Roy E. Disney had done for the company. “Nobody appreciated what went on inside the building more than Roy Disney, so that is why we decided to put his name on the top of it,” Iger said.
The fact that Roy’s office is located inside the giant sorcerer’s hat (even if he was rarely in there) made the decision even more appropriate.
Iger went on to say that Roy “ushered in a new golden age of animation at Disney and a revival of the animation industry as a whole.”
After the final speaker, Lisa Donahey, Disney cast member and talented singer, sang a beautiful rendition of “Just One Dream.”
Then, it was time to unveil the new sign above the entrance to the animation building, with the help of Mickey Mouse.
It was then time for dinner with fellow D23 members and a trip to the Studio store, which is normally only open to cast members.
Afterwards, the evening continued with the showing of three movies that Roy E. Disney himself had a hand in: Perri, a “true life fantasy” about the life of a squirrel in the forest, Lorenzo, a short animated film about a cat with a bewitched tail, and Fantasia 2000, a follow-up to Walt Disney’s original Fantasia. The films were viewed inside the Disney studio theater, beautifully redone last year before the special screening of The Princess and The Frog. In addition, it was in this same theater that Roy E. Disney himself sat and mixed Fantasia 2000.
While Perri marked the beginning of Roy E. Disney’s career, Fantasia 2000, marked the end. Walt Disney had originally intended on making Fantasia a kind of ever-changing movie, where each summer it would come back with new pieces and some of the original favorites. This never came to fruition, however. Roy E. Disney took it upon himself, as executive producer of Fantasia 2000, to continue his uncle’s vision. Fantasia 2000 took nine years to complete.
Thank you, Roy E. Disney.
You left an indelible mark on The Walt Disney Company and we are all grateful for the films you gave us; just like the new Roy E. Disney Animation Building, they are a lasting tribute to your tireless dedication and heart.