It’s such a familiar story. A struggling 22-year-old filmmaker arrives in Los Angeles to make it big in show business and crashes at his uncle’s house until it happens. Except this time it was Walt Disney, and within a decade he would add synchronized sound to cartoons, build his own movie studio, and win the Academy Award.
Walt and his brother Roy would spend the next quarter century in the Los Feliz area and several new tours will take visitors to their homes, studios, and favorite hangouts.
This Saturday the Carolwood Foundation will open up Walt’s barn, relocated from his Holmby Hills home to Griffith Park, for a Bar-B-Que roundup with a chance to mingle with animators, actors, and bid at a silent art auction. The little red building was once a workshop and control center for his miniature backyard railroad. It has been called the birthplace of Imagineering.
The guides at Atlas Obscura are planning a walking tour of the Silver Lake and Los Feliz neighborhoods Walt and Roy lived and worked in on July 30. The three-hour excursion will visit exteriors and neighborhood landmarks like the Shakespeare Bridge and John Marshall High School.
Disney legend Bob Gurr leads a third expedition, the Disney History Trail. A luxurious motor coach cruise to the homes and studio sites, with a picnic lunch. The bus takes a detour to Glendale and Burbank to see the Imagineering buildings where Gurr designed ride vehicles for Disneyland. The first one departs this weekend, but it appears to be sold out. Additional tours are planned through the summer.
Walt Disney spent 27 years in northeast L.A. before decamping for Holmby Hills in 1950. Most of the places he lived and worked have remained largely intact. His last home, where Lillian stayed until her death in 1997, was sold and immediately demolished.
July 1923 – Fall 1923
4406 Kingswell Ave., Los Angeles
Home of Robert Disney, Walt’s first residence in Los Angeles in 1923. A freestanding garage was converted to a cartoon studio.
Fall 1923-July 1925
4409 Kingswell Ave., Los Angeles
Walt and his brother Roy quickly moved across the street to a newly built house, split into two units.
August 1925- December 1926
4637 Melbourne Ave., Los Angeles
When Walt married Lillian, who worked in the ink and paint department, they spent four months in a small apartment facing the alley.
December 1926-December 1927
1307 N. Commonwealth Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The couple briefly moved to a larger apartment, which was demolished in 1963. The site is now Sunset Nursery.
December 1927 – Fall 1933
2495 Lyric Ave., Los Angeles
After the launch of the successful Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit series, Walt and Roy built matching homes next door to each other.
Fall 1933 – 1950
4053 Woking Way, Los Angeles
With Mickey Mouse and his first Oscar under his belt, Walt set out to build a magnificent English and French-style mansion for his expectant wife. Architect Frank Crowhurst designed the 12-room home with a pool, theater, and gymnasium.
October 1923 – February 1926
4649-4651 Kingswell Ave., Los Angeles,
The Disney Brothers studio was carved out of the space behind Holly-Vermont Realty, a storefront a few doors away from home.
February 1926 – 1940
2719 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles
After the success of the Alice comedies, Walt and Roy began construction on a new studio complex. They spent 14 years in the Spanish style complex before relocating to Burbank. The buildings were demolished in 1968 for the supermarket that currently occupies the site.
1937 and later
4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Griffith Park merry-go-round was installed in 1937 and Walt loved taking his young daughters for a ride. He once told a reporter that he would sit on a bench there and dream of Disneyland.
1950 and later
5202 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Walt’s daughter Diane led the effort to save Walt’s barn when the family home in Holmby Hills was sold. It was relocated to Griffith Park where it operates as a museum dedicated to Walt’s love of trains.