Mickey Mouse slept here: Inside the storybook Los Angeles mansion where Walt Disney once lived

Mickey Mouse slept here: Inside the storybook Los Angeles mansion where Walt Disney once lived

The entry to Walt Disney’s mansion in Los Feliz. Winding up Woking Way, a small, twisty road between Los Feliz Boulevard and Griffith Park, you wouldn’t know it was any different from any of the other million-dollar homes surrounding it. That’s because, from the street, all you see is an imposing gate and a steep driveway.

At the top, that’s where the magic is. At the top is Walt Disney’s home, the house that Mickey built, part storybook cottage, part luxury mansion, all Hollywood fairytale.

“Walt Disney’s Storybook Mansion,” as those in-the-know call it, is a private residence. Once a month, it opens up for tours , led by Dusty Sage, a Disney expert who runs the Disney blog MiceChat and who was instrumental in saving and restoring Walt Disney’s Chicago birthplace.

“There is something special about the house,” he said. “I always like to think I’m feeling the spirit of Walt Disney when I’m in here. Whether that’s just me thinking that way or if it’s actually his spirit, I don’t know. But I get goose bumps in this house. No matter how many times I’m here, I feel the vibe of this place and it speaks to me.” The foyer has a winding staircase, a stained glass window and a painted ceiling. The house is all fairytale: white plaster and deep red brick, with dark wood shingles and stained glass windows. The front door is placed within a central tower topped with a weather vane, and the walk up to it is lined with rose bushes with two colors of rose on them: yellow for Walt and pink for his wife Lillian, who was a passionate gardener.

The couple built the house in 1932, welcomed daughters Diane and Sharon there, and lived there until 1950.

“Most people come here and they immediately think of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’” Sage said, assuming that the home was inspired by and built with profits from that movie. “But it’s really the other way around. This house was built in ’32, ‘Snow White’ didn’t come out until ’37, and they hadn’t even started working on that film yet. This house was just a style Walt Disney liked.”

It’s also the same storybook cottage style of Walt’s favorite restaurant, the nearby Tam O’Shanter, which was built in 1922 and was the daily lunch spot for Disney and his inner circle. To this day, Table 31 still has a plaque on it marking Disney’s favorite spot in the restaurant. The view from the front courtyard. Learning about Disney history is sort of like falling down an “Alice in Wonderland”-style rabbit hole. There is so much fascinating information about how Walt Disney’s vision shaped pop culture and defined what we consider premium entertainment today. There are also troubling accounts of misogyny and antisemitism. But the tour, as you might expect, focused on the good parts, and for that hour, I was happy to do so, too.

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