What is Walt’s Barn?
Walt’s Barn is the best kept Disney secret in Los Angeles. Back in the early 1950’s Walt Disney had a little red barn in his back yard where he would tinker with his 1/8 scale train engine, the Lilly Belle. As many people know Walt Disney had a small railroad called the Carolwood Pacific in his back yard. The barn sat at 355 N. Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills near Beverly Hills California. This little barn is considered the birthplace of Imagineering and inspiration for Disneyland. Walt wanted to share his train with the public, but the privacy and insurance risks were too great. Instead he imagined a place where “parents and kids could have fun together.”
Although the train track was removed shortly after Walt’s death, the barn remained on the Disney Family estate for over 45 years. It was used primarily as a storage shed for gardening equipment, but the tiny building was cute and had the use of forced perspective to keep it quaint. Shortly after Walt’s widow Lilly died, in 1997, the only surviving daughter decided to sell the property. Although the Disney Family home no longer exists, the barn was saved, and moved to Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Located at the Los Angeles Live Steamers section where Walt Disney was a founding member.
The barn is open to the public every month on the third Sunday from 11:00am to 3:00pm.
Operated by volunteers of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society the barn is 80% the original structure with a new roof and foundation for fire code purposes. Guests who visit the barn are invited to ride the Los Angeles Live Steamers 1/8 scale trains and to bring a picnic lunch. The barn has a small display of some of Walt’s train memorabilia. Quite often a Disney Legend or Imagineer will be asked to be the special guest at Walt’s Barn. Often Michael Broggie, author of Walt Disney’s Railroad Story can be on hand.
I’ve been asked to join the Board of Governors of Carolwood Pacific Historical Society. My time in volunteering there has been well spent. Not only is the barn crew a wonderful group of people, the visitors to the barn are so taken by the barn; those who knew Walt and those who only wished to. If you have free time to spare, and you live in the LA area, I strongly recommend spending a Sunday afternoon there or two!
The parking is free and the volunteers request only a modest donation to LALS for your visit.
To learn more about the activities at the barn check out www.carolwoodpacific.com.