One Of Mary Poppins' Most Notable Props Was Almost Lost To History

August 2022 marks the 58th anniversary of Walt Disney's "Mary Poppins." Featuring Julie Andrews as the titular nanny from the beloved P.L. Travers book series, the critically acclaimed live-action/animated hybrid became the highest-grossing movie of 1964 and was the only Walt Disney Studios film to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards during the founder's lifetime.

However, like many films of that era and prior, there aren't many pieces of screen used memorabilia left to display and share with the adoring public. Those involved in the productions at the time viewed such items as "just props" to be disposed of when cameras stopped rolling. That's why Roy O. Disney founded the Walt Disney Archives in 1970, with the goal of collecting, preserving, and making props available not just for research but so future generations could enjoy them. Luckily, when it comes to the practically perfect Poppins, some people worked hard to ensure that items from the crown jewel of Walt Disney's time in the studio remain intact, including the snow globe from the unforgettable "Feed The Birds" scene. 

To celebrate the anniversary, the official Disney D23 Fan Club shared a Twitter post detailing the story of how the iconic prop from the film was saved from being lost to time. Check it out:

While chief archivist Dave Smith was searching the lot for any items that should be preserved in the archive, he found the snow globe on a shelf in the janitor's office in the Animation Building. Apparently, the janitor had found it in the trash without knowing what it was and, because he thought it looked neat, he saved it before it went off to a dumpster. Although, there's a little more to the story regarding the prop's preservation. 

Come feed the little birds, show them you care

As informative as the minute-long social media video is, the Disney+ series "Prop Culture" (which is amazing and should absolutely get another season) expands on the story of the "Feed The Birds" snow globe and other notable items from across the Disney catalogue of film and television. 

In the first episode, avid collector and host Dan Lanigan spoke to Kevin Kidney, a sculptor and designer that specializes in replicas and recreations. He revealed that the globe that Smith found was missing the bottom half. The janitor only found the glass dome, the cathedral, and some of the birds in the trash that day. The metal stand that the globe sat on was lost, so Disney hired Kidney to recreate it so that the piece was whole once more.

Kidney was also tapped to create a new version of the prop for "Mary Poppins Returns" starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Thanks to him, there are now three versions of the snow globe in existence: the original from 1964, the screen used prop from 2018, and an additional one that was created for the sequel that now lives in Kidney's workshop.

As for the original that was saved by Smith and the janitor, it can be found in Walt's office on the studio lot in Burbank, which was fully restored by the Archive to look as it did in his day. The prop is sitting on the office's piano, on which Richard and Robert Sherman played "Feed The Birds" for Walt often on Friday afternoons as he looked out his window in the Animation Building. And these days, while tours are offered for a select few to see the office and the snow globe, Richard is the only person allowed to play the piano.