This is a hard post for me to write. It may sound silly to most people, but visiting Walt Disney’s barn was emotional for me. Why you might ask? Well, I believe Walt was a special man who stood for so many things that I find important in life, such as creativity, family, persistence, bravery, and dedication. This barn, Walt’s barn, was not only a place for him to enjoy his train hobby but it was also the birthplace of Disney Imagineering. It is a building where his great mind and those great minds around him met to create amazing things. Walking through Walt Disney’s barn and seeing so many of his personal items that tell a story about a special part of his life was overwhelming for me. I’ve wanted to share this experience with those of you that admire Walt and his accomplishments, but I have struggled to find the words to write something that I would feel could do the barn justice. Today I have decided to share my visit primarily through photos. I’m not educated on trains and miniatures, nor did I know Walt Disney personally for he passed away before my birth, so the information that accompanies the photos is directly from spending time in the barn listening to volunteers. I recommend visiting the barn on your own. I’m certain you will learn more than I can ever tell you in this post today. Below are photos of items that stood out to me and I’m excited to share them with you today, the anniversary of the sad day Walt Disney passed.
Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn currently resides at Griffith Park in Los Angeles California. It was moved to this location from its original home on Carolwood Drive in 1999 by Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s daughter, when the barn was at risk of being torn down. She donated it to the non-profit Carolwood Foundation with connections to the Los Angeles Live Steamers Club where Walt Disney was a charter member.
I’m happy to report that if you’re visiting Disneyland in Anaheim and would like to visit this Disney attraction around the corner in LA, it’s FREE! Walt’s Barn is open to the public on the third Sunday of each month from 11am until 3pm. The barn is staffed by devoted experts on Walt’s history with trains and lucky for visitors they donate their time to tell his story.
There is a suggested donation amount, however I can tell you that the staff collecting donations at the gate acted shocked when we paid it. After visiting a Disney theme park, their suggested donation was a steal for an amazing experience rich with history.
As you enter into the barn, to the left you’ll find historical information about the barn, including a photograph of a barn that was located on the farm Walt Disney lived on during the early years of his childhood. Walt’s Carolwood Barn was modeled after this barn. The information is attached to the door of what use to be a space for the toilet.
Around the corner of the space is the tidy up area. Since Walt often started work early in the day, he would come to the barn to get ready. He would use this sink, a shaving kit and small mirror to clean up before going into the office.
On the right side of the barn’s door is this antique phone. Walt used it to communicate with anyone at the main house.
Next to this phone I found Walt’s Central Track Control area. A small plaque attached to the switchboard display reads: “The switchboard was used by Walt Disney to operate the 11 turnouts (switches) on the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Lights on the panel indicated the location of the train on the 2,615 feet of track. A tracking system similar to this is still used on a slightly larger scale, along the route of the Disneyland Railroad. Built by Lee Adams at the Walt Disney Studio.”
Next to his switchboard is one of Walt’s work benches. He built all of the work benches found in the barn.
On top of this work bench are drawings of Walt’s train called the Lilly Belle, along with other memorabilia.
Of course the barn is home to train displays, including this train that was purchased in London by Walt Disney in 1951. Sadly it never ran on Walt’s track, since it was damaged by water on its trip to Walt’s home. At that time Walt was busy planning Disneyland, so he never had time to repair it.
This car was part of Walt’s famous Carolwood Pacific. The locomotive is on display in San Francesco at the Walt Disney Family Museum.
These few photo are merely a small amount of the images that I took while visiting Walt’s barn. I hope you’ve enjoyed them!
If a trip to Disneyland is in your future, consider adding a stop at Walt’s barn to your “Must Do” list. I assure you, visiting Walt’s barn is truly a wonderful glimpse into Walt’s “happy place” before he created the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
Do you love to read about Disney History? Visit one of my favorite blogs, Frontierland Station, and check out the Fastpass To History section or if you’re a Disney History blogger, add your link to her blog hop for us to read too!