Disney Gallery

BACKSTORY: Originally to be a private suite for Walt Disney and his family to entertain in a way that his small Main Street Firehouse apartment couldn’t afford. The original door was located in New Orleans Square courtyard; guests would climb the stairs and announce themselves via a buzzer/intercom. This door was located at the rear of the Disney Gallery back hallway, connected to the ground floor by a flight of stairs in the Royal Courtyard designated by a “21 Rue Royal” marker. Walt worked with Dorothea Redmond ("Gone with the Wind") on the interior designs. Redmond's 1966 concepts showed an elegant yet warm design. Each room was connected to a view of an outdoor patio so that Walt and Lillian could enjoy the outdoors away from park guests. Lillian picked the fountain patio. The Royal Suite would not have had a kitchen, so Club 33 would have supplied meals for Walt’s guests. With Walt's death in 1966, his older brother Roy felt that staying in The Royal Suite would be too difficult for the family. Within the wrought iron of the balcony, one can still see the initials “WD” (Walt Disney) and “RD”(Roy Disney). Insurance Company of North America (INA), who already had the Carefree Corner on Main Street near Central Plaza, was the first tenant of the suite, hosting VIP receptions until they left in 1974. The decor was completed by Emile Kuri, who had contributed to the decoration of Main Street and worked on the Disney films “20K” and “Mary Poppins.” Redmond and Kuri had worked together with Walt on the designs for Club 33. Disneyland International next occupied the suite during the planning of Tokyo Disneyland. These executive offices included a large-scale model of Tokyo Disneyland. Imagineer Tony Baxter designed the bridge and staircases in front of POTC, the balcony window was transformed into a door, creating a new entrance to the Royal Suite, which reopened as the Disney Gallery in 1987. Club 33 had wanted the space for expansion, but Baxter convinced chief operating officer Frank Wells of the idea of a showcase. The Disney Gallery's cash register area was originally to be a wet bar for Walt. Cast members enjoyed showing the Sub-Zero miniature refrigerator, as it was the same one installed in 1966, and it still worked decades later. Lella Smith was responsible for the artwork brought over from Walt Disney Imagineering and ensured that the windows were UV treated and that the Gallery was climate controlled. In 2007, Disney announced that the Gallery would be restored to Walt's/Dorothea's original vision, and used as a “Dream Suite” for lucky guests to spend an unforgettable night during the Year of a Million Dreams promotion. This version of The Disney Gallery closed on August 7, 2007.