By Steven Vagnini
For four decades, Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith headed the department charged with collecting, preserving, and sharing Disney’s rich history. To celebrate Dave’s incredible career—and welcome him to his first D23 event at Walt Disney World Resort in more than five years—45 D23 Gold Members and their guests gathered for an exclusive, intimate lunch experience with the Disney Legend.
This unique edition of D23’s Lunch with a Disney Legend series took place February 10, 2017, amid the casual elegance of Ariel’s at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. The event kicked off with an opportunity to hear fascinating stories from Dave, as guests participated in a question-and-answer session. Dave recounted memories of establishing the Walt Disney Archives, from receiving the grand master key that opened every door at the Disney Studio to making some amazing discoveries inside Walt Disney’s offices.
Dave also shared several little-known facts while debunking some popular Disney myths and revealing a few of his own favorite Disney subjects. (Did you know that his favorite Disney songs are “Little April Shower” from Bambi and “Golden Dream” from The American Adventure?) He also recalled his first visit to Walt Disney World, when the resort was still under construction. (Dave can date the visit, since it took place the day Main Street, U.S.A. was being paved!)
After the session, guests proceeded upstairs to the dining room, where they enjoyed a delicious three-course meal with Dave and other Disney guests, who each hold a special connection to Dave and the Disney legacy: Alyce Diamandis (manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Marketing Resource Center), Ken Facey and Brandon Peters (2017–18 Walt Disney World Resort Ambassador Team), Gary Landrum (show awareness producer, Walt Disney Imagineering), and D23’s own Tyler Slater and Steven Vagnini.
As a delicious finale, guests were surprised with a tasty dessert inspired by Dave’s favorite character, Pluto. And if that sweet touch wasn’t enough, each attendee received a truly unique gift: a printed caricature of Dave, created by WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) artist and fellow Disney Legend Sam McKim, created personally for Dave in 1978!
As they exited Ariel’s after a memorable afternoon, D23 Members had the opportunity to meet with Dave, who even signed copies of his recent books Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia Fifth Edition (Disney Editions, 2016) and Disney Facts Revealed (Disney Editions, 2016).
We look forward to sharing details on upcoming Lunch with a Disney Legend and other D23 events in the near future! Click here to explore D23’s 2017 calendar of events.