Marking the entrance to “The Great Movie Ride,” “The Chinese Theater” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a replica of a legendary Hollywood landmark. Over the years, the original “Grauman’s Chinese Theater” (now known as the “TCL Chinese Theater”) has played host to countless red carpet movie premiers, including one of Disney’s most popular and historically important animated features. In a window on the left side of the Walt Disney World version of the theater, a collection of tickets, passes, and other printed material from the premier of Walt Disney’s “The Jungle Book” pay tribute to that occasion.
While all movie premiers are reasons to celebrate, the 1967 release of “The Jungle Book” also had a bittersweet side due to the death of Walt Disney just a few months earlier. Walt had been heavily involved in the film’s production until his passing, so there was a great amount of interest both in Hollywood and around the world around Walt Disney’ final animated feature. While there had been some talk at the studio of shutting down its animation department in the wake of Walt’s death, the phenomenal success of “The Jungle Book” upon its release gave them the confidence to carry on, ensuring that Disney’s animation legacy would continue for many years to come.