This Video Takes a Tour of the Hidden Tunnels Underneath the Original Disney Animation Buildings

From the underground tunnels at Disney in Burbank.
From the underground tunnels at Disney in Burbank.
Screenshot: Disney/YouTube

What do Paris, Disney, and sprawling nuclear fallout shelters have in common? Catacombs!


Yes, that’s right: there are hidden tunnels beneath the original Disney animation studio buildings on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank. Which makes the world of Disney animation both cooler and more arcane, like a hidden home for powerful sorcerers lurking in the bowels of the earth. In a video shared by Disney Parks, Disney Archives Director Becky Cline shows off the care and purpose that went into crafting the original Disney animation buildings and how they culminate in a fascinating series of underground tunnels.

As strange as the tunnels seem, they serve a rational purpose, allowing animators in the years of hand animation to move animation cels from one building to another without exposing them to the elements. This let the animators move through the process without risking their art being damaged in the untamed wilderness of, uhh, Burbank. They’re eerie, in the way subterranean tunnels always are, but it definitely makes sense.

Nowadays, animation doesn’t really need underground tunnels to flourish. Which is kind of a pity. Honestly, every animated movie would be better if I knew it had journeyed through a shadowed subterranean layer on its way to my surface world. That’s how you make content.

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.



Must be where they’re hiding Alan Dean Foster’s money.