This was hardly a visit I planned but early in 1971 I decided to stop in at the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank. My old VW Squareback was in an auto shop in nearby Glendale so I had time on my hands. Since I was stuck in the San Fernando Valley what would I do with a few hours on my hands? Since the Disney Studio was nearby I decided to stop in and see what was going on.
I hadn't thought much about Disney since my brief stint on "Bednobs and Broomsticks." However, returning to Disney was a good deal like visiting a university you had once attended. And, like a university campus little had change since my last visit. My old boss, Andy Engman was nearing retirement but he still occupied his first floor office ajacent to B-Wing. Andy seemed pleased to see me and was eager to share what was going on at seventies Disney. The new animated feature film, "Robin Hood" had been greenlit for production and a number of animators were beginning to explore the characters. Characters have a habit of evolving over the course of the production and these early versions of Robin Hood and Little John still had a long way to go. Eventually, they would go to Milt Kahl for his thoughts and revisions.
I wandered into D-Wing where I once had my office back in the sixties before moving into story. In those days, directing animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston were still hard at work at the drawing board. The two Disney masters were having such a great time exploring the character of Prince John and Sir Hiss (the snake) they couldn't wait to show me what they were doing. Animation was still in my blood and I couldn't help but consider returning to Disney's animation department to work on these wonderful characters. Of course, one might ask why I wanted to return to animation after already having a successful stint in Walt's story department? Well, I still loved animation and at the time it still seemed more attractive than story. Some might have considered me a little nuts for thinking like that.
Nearly a year later I did return to the animation department of the Walt Disney Studios and moved in an office near the rear of B-wing. Oddly enough, the very wing where I began my animation career over a decade earlier. I shared the office with a nice bearded young man named, Terry. Old veteran, Johnny Bond still picked up the time cards on Friday afternoons and it would appear that nothing at Disney had changed since my absence. However, I would soon find out how wrong I was. Not long after my return to the Walt Disney Studio, Walt's older brother, Roy O. Disney suddenly passed away. And, with the passing of Roy, things would never be the same. I'll tell you why in another post.