A Tour of the Top Secret Disney Animation Research Library

The Disney Animation Research Library is not open to the public. In fact, it is at a undisclosed location in CA, you wouldn’t know it was there if you drove by it. I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Disney Animation Research Library last month during an all expense paid trip to L.A. to learn about the upcoming home releases of three fantastic movies, FROZEN, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Pirate Fairy.


The Disney Animation Research Library  is home for Disney art from 1920’s to today. This location is only open to Disney employees do do research for movie development. The goal here is two-fold, to preserve art from past movies and to be a resource for future Disney films. I was invited out with other bloggers to check out The Pirate Fairy movie. During our visit to the Disney Animation Research Library , we were able to see actual historical artwork from the Peter Pan movie. the-pirate-fairy-press-day-ARL_031

Yes, The Pirate Fairy has a lot to do with the Peter Pan movie! Disney employees used the library to research historical documents from Peter Pan to accurately portray elements from that movie into the new The Pirate Fairy movie. The attention to detail and preservation is amazing! the-pirate-fairy-ARL-peter-pan-2074_SS_215_2_ARIA

You will even see Skull Rock in The Pirate Fairy. the-pirate-fairy-ARL-peter-pan-2074_VD_5221_ARL

Disney goes to great measures to preserve their past films with the Disney Vaults. This is a highly secured area of the Disney Animation Research Library. It is temperature controlled to slow down the aging of paper and film. It has a special fire system in place that uses a gas instead of water, in case of a fire. If you are in the vault, you only have seconds to leave before the gas is expelled to save the priceless materials.the-pirate-fairy-press-day-ARL_053

Everything is highly organized and categorized by movie with larger paintings and artifacts equally labeled.the-pirate-fairy-press-day-ARL_048

It was amazing to be in the presence of such creativity in one room. It is hard to believe that all the hand drawn artwork from movies as far back as 1920’s were in that massive room.

Another equally important part of the Disney Animation Research Library is the Image Capture Room. This is where the future of preservation happens.  In this room, every single Disney drawing is scanned in electronically into massive files at 1/2 Gig per photo!

They have two devices to scan. One takes roughly 2-1/2 minutes per photo or about 100 photos a day to scan at this high quality rate. The second scans at a medium format with about 1,00 – 1,500 per day.  With more than 850,000 files to scan, it is going to take forever to complete this task. However, patience prevails and they do this on a movie by movie basis – based on the quality of the artwork and the need for future movie projects.


By scanning each and every piece of art into an electronic file, it reduces the possible damage to the original artwork from hands and decay over time. After each drawing is scanned, it goes through quality control below. A person visually looks at each file for accuracy and consistency on gigantic monitors.the-pirate-fairy-press-day-ARL_063

Currently, they have about 1,000 terabytes of data in their GEM database. The hard work for the Disney team will preserve Disney movies for generations to come.

This was not a paid post. I received an all-expense paid trip to L.A. to visit Disney Studios and gifts. My own opinions were used based on my perceptions and experience.

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Founder and Lead Blogger at Akron Ohio Moms
Cindy is the top Akron Blogger with her own take on awesome brands for families, where to vacation for families, a beat on local activities and family fun, a knack for getting moms to share , and a house that is always 2 weeks away from a complete remodel!
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