The Walt Disney Studios may be known as the House of Mouse, but it’s truly the House Snow White Built.
With the enormous box-office success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt knew the future was in features. “When Snow White hit, we realized we were in a new business,” he later explained. “We knew it within a week after the picture had opened at the Carthay Circle in Los Angeles. We knew it within a week after the picture had opened at the Carthay Circle in Los Angeles. We had been heavily in debt and within six months we had millions in the bank.” The great showman set about planning a cutting-edge dream factory in Burbank specifically designed to facilitate the production of more full-length animated films, built with the profits of that first feature. When the new filmmaking facility was completed in 1940, Walt honored the princess who made it all possible by christening two streets of the animation plant Dopey Drive (marked by the world-famous signpost designating the intersection of the street named after the seventh Dwarf with Mickey Avenue) and Snow White Boulevard.
“The significance of Snow White to the art of animation cannot be underestimated,” stated Michael Eisner, then-CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “The financial success of the movie allowed Walt to pursue his other dreams, such as the production of more animated features, live action movies, television shows, and, ultimately, Disneyland and Walt Disney World. In fact,” Michael emphasized, “the profits from Snow White allowed Walt to build a modern studio and sound stages that are still in use today.” So aware was he that the Disney Studios was built on the shoulders of Snow White that when he turned to Michael Graves to design the Team Disney Building on the Burbank lot, the architect incorporated 17-feet-tall figures of the Seven Dwarfs to literally and figuratively hold up the roof. A prime example of “character classicism,” this Disney HQ structure, which opened in 1990, utilizes the Dwarf figures—molded by Walt Disney Imagineering—in place of traditional caryatids. The Walt Disney Studios may be known as the House of Mouse, but it’s truly the House Snow White Built.
The House Snow White Built | The Snow White Reunion | Snow White on Stage | A Smile and a Song | Who’s the Fairest Star of All? | Snow White at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom |
Now Don’t Tell Me Who You Are—Let Me Guess | Happily Ever After
Unveiled at a star-studded world premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood on December 21, 1937, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been holding audiences spellbound with its enthralling characters, unforgettable music and timelessly artful animation. Through 75 years of fairy-tale magic, this motion-picture masterpiece has inspired all sorts of honors, commemorations, and merriments. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art adding Snow White cels to its collection in 1938 and the Magic Mirror “hosting” One Hour in Wonderland, Disney’s very first television special, in 1950, to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train scheduled to open at the New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in 2014, Walt’s original princess is never far from the heart of Disney.
By D23: The Official Disney Fan Club’s Jim Fanning