walt's office map

Walt’s Maps of the Magic

By Max Lark

Walt Disney once said: “I’ve always wanted to work on something alive, something that keeps growing. We’ve got that in Disneyland.”

Anyone fortunate enough to visit Walt Disney’s office suite in the 3-H wing at the original Animation Building will see pictorial proof of Walt’s commitment to evolving and adding to his theme park. On the northern wall of Walt’s “working office,” which the Walt Disney Archives faithfully restored in December 2015 along with the rest of Walt’s office suite, is a 1965 aerial view of Disneyland with a legend and descriptions pointing to recently opened and projected attractions. It’s a remarkable piece of history, and it’s not hard to imagine Walt poring over the map, his mind racing, his imagination soaring.

“The map served as a fluid diagram of Disneyland which, at the time, showcased the recently debuted attractions Swiss Family Treehouse and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln along with those under construction, including Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean,” says Mike Buckhoff, manager, Disney Photo Archives. Various iterations of these maps began appearing on the wall of Walt’s working office as early as December 1953 beginning with hand-drawn schematics and later aerial photographs of the park. “These maps not only functioned as working references for Walt but also as an exhibition on the progress of his magic kingdom to be shared with captivated luminaries and other studio visitors lucky enough to receive an invite to Walt’s think tank,” Buckhoff adds.

“Disneyland is like a piece of clay, if there is something I don’t like, I’m not stuck with it,” Walt once said. “I can reshape and revamp.” Looking at these rarely seen photos of this aerial map prominently placed inside Walt’s working office is a vivid reminder of just how absorbed Walt was with the park. Sure, other projects consumed him at the time, but this priceless artifact reveals that Disneyland was never far from his mind.