“Yes, in one way or another, I have always loved trains.” – Walt Disney
It has been a year since our last visit to Walt Disney’s Barn in Griffith Park. Little has changed, but it was nice so see some Disney friends and make new ones. On this day in January, visitors were treated to the chance to meet and visit with Disney Legends Bob Gurr and Floyd Norman. More on these two in a moment.
Trains were such a large part of Walt’s life. As a boy, he worked on several railroad companies in 1916 selling newspapers and snacks. Once the Walt Disney Studios were running, Walt’s love of trains carried on to the point that he had a model train in his office. He became interested in scale model live steam trains after discovering that two of his animators, Ward Kimble and Ollie Johnson had railroads at their homes. Walt eventually created his Carolwood Pacific Railroad that ran around his Holmby Hills home in Los Angeles. It is here that Walt built his barn that would house his hobby and ultimately become an attraction in itself.
In the barn are scale model live steam trains as well as the benches Walt built himself to do his work, along with other Disney memorabilia, almost all of it centered on his love of trains.
Walt Disney’s Barn is not owned by the Walt Disney Company, but there are many who work with or for the company who donate their time to help keep this venue alive. In recent months, there have been more and more legends showing up at the barn to help out and attract more visitors. On this day Bob Gurr, Imagineer and Legend was there to sign DVD’s and chat with visitors. Another legend to make and appearance, and we are told that he is becoming a regular to the barn is Legend Floyd Norman.
Floyd is an animator who worked as a clean up artist on Sleeping Beauty and made his way up in the studios to work on several Disney classics. Both men have interesting stories about their work and careers and this is an easy way to get to talk with those who actually knew Walt. The barn is only open on the third Sunday of each month, and February’s opening will feature Margaret Kerry, the model for Tinkerbell in the animated movie “Peter Pan.”
Last year, we posted a picture of something under a blue tarp. That item is no longer sitting in the parking lot but has been moved. A little investigation discovered that it is a car from the original Mine Train Ride. It is now off being restored and is expected to be relocated to its permanent home at the Barn sometime in the next two years.
And no visit would be complete without saying “hi” to our friend Denny Moynahan, whom you may remember from the Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland.
One has to wonder if Walt ever understood the influence he would come to have upon generations of people. Whether it was from the entertainment aspect of his animations, pushing envelope of technology, or even those things that he loved that are now parts of venues such as his Barn, the Walt Disney Family Museum, or Walt’s birthplace in Chicago (someplace we haven’t been.)
If you want to visit Walt’s Barn, it is located at 5202 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA. It is actually at the east end of the all the train museums and Live Steamers. It is open on the third Sunday of every month from 11am to 3pm. There is no cost to enter, but they do ask for a donation to keep the operations going.