I am not aware that the Disney Company has an official birthday for the Burbank Studio. If they were, my guess is that it would occupy the year 1940. This is reinforced by Disney’s twenty-three which listed 2010 as the 70th anniversary in their Spring 2010 issue. This might be open to debate, since there were departments that moved over in late 1939. So is the “anniversary” the first day that the Studio became active? Or when all the departments were moved in? Or, maybe, when Walt moved in? Ultimately, the Walt Disney Archives will (and should!) make this decision, as they are the final say on all things Disney history!

I would propose another possibility, that the true birthday was the date that Walt decided to build the new studio. In 1938 as revenue from Snow White began to fill the Disney’s bank account, Walt began to think about constructing a new building across the street from Hyperion. As with many “Walt ideas” it began to grow, until one day … he decided that the time for a brand new studio was at hand; in essence, it was the first time that Walt declared his decision for the idea and set it in motion. To me, that would make a great day to celebrate the birth of the Studio. Fortunately, we have that date.

I refer you to the May 2, 1938 entry from the diary of Bill Garity. Garity is most well known in Disney history for supervising the creation of the multiplane camera and developing Fantasound.

“Had a conference with Walt, Frank Crowhurst and Dave Hand in the morning in which it was definitely decided to abandon the idea of building the building across the street and to begin immediately the plans of a new studio, pending the purchase of a suitable site.”

The arrival of the vaunted air condition at the Studio, circa 1939. Bill Garity is on the right.

So we at DHI offer a heartfelt Happy Birthday to the Burbank Studio! (… even one day late! This was supposed to post yesterday, May 2, 1938, but as many know Blogger is making changes again, which always creates some issues). Top sepia image is from the October 1939 Valley Progress magazine that welcome Disney to the San Fernando Valley.

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