Hanging out in the “Vault” at Disney’s Animation Research Library

Yes, stepping in the Disney “Vault” is pretty much indescribable.  Amazing, fascinating, and incredible but overall just truly indescribable. No words of mine will do the experience justice!

As a total Disney fan and lover of all things having to do with the mouse, the chance to step into this top secret location which houses literally millions of bits of Disney’s archives was magical.

Touring Disney’s Animation Research Library stacks up there on my list of most fabulous and interesting experiences thanks to blogging.

So here’s the scoop and lots of photos so you can get inside the vault too! We saw many items from the Cinderella collection to celebrate the upcoming release of Cinderella from the vault onto DVD with the new Cinderella Diamond Edition released on sale today.

The location is top secret and we were not allowed to photograph anything but Disney was fabulous enough to give us our very own photographer to tour with our group who was allowed to capture photos so we could share our experience with our readers. Awesome!

And yes, I really do mean we hung out in the “vault” where all that magic is locked up and stored.

Did you know the Animation Research Library houses some 60-65 million pieces of ORIGINAL artwork from animators of Disney’s movies? It was built in 1999 and Disney began to pool together all of this rich legacy in one place.

Think pencil sketches, colored drawings, glass panes, and even dimensional artwork and sculptures.

Unreal. Preserving this artwork is crucial. And truly a secret weapon for Disney’s future succes as they preserve this past and can learn from it too.

The vaults were chilly and obviously super duper temperature controlled to prevent any mold development. And if there were ever a fire – well forget about putting it out with water. Some kind of system exists that would put out the fire using gas since clearly water would ruin all those priceless artifacts.

Notice the white glove treatment every artifact gets so it can be preserved along with all these incredible storage systems that catalog all the artifacts by film. They are all sequenced too!

The magnitude of all this material is pretty hard to get my head around and seriously looking at these drawings, sculptures and glass panes gave me chills as I sensed the history and magic all coming together.

Here I am checking out some original drawings and sketches from Cinderella. Total WOW moment and yes I had chills!

Take a peek at these 3D sculptures… recognize Stitch? These models help animators through the creative process.

Here’s one more favorite…. look at this classic Pinocchio. It sat in Walt’s office for years. Love it and yes I so wish we could have touched all these items but they are all behind glass and under lock and key for very good reason – to be preserved forever!

More fabulous photos!


Disclosure: Thanks to Disney for paying my travel expenses and providing me with this secret behind the scenes tour of the Animation Research Library. It was the experience of a lifetime. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

1 thought on “Hanging out in the “Vault” at Disney’s Animation Research Library”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this post! My heart swells at the thought of being in the presence of such amazing history. Disney films have touched the lives of all Americans in some way, generation after generation. I’m not sure folks realize the extent that Disney animators and story-tellers go to, merely to bring a smile to someone’s face. (I too am a complete-head-over-heals-Disney fanatic.) I hope someday I might be lucky enough to see the vault for myself. Amazing!

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