Golden Oak Ranch
In 1959, Walt Disney founded the Golden Oak Ranch. It's nestled in Placerita Canyon in the community of Newhall. His reason for buying the land was because the other movie ranches where the major Hollywood studios filmed were being subdivided. He feared they would cease to exist, so that's why he bought the land to build the 315-acre ranch on. The purchase of the land cost $300,000. Over the next five years, he bought additional land around the ranch. This expanded its size to the current 691-acres.
The purchase of the land was to ensure better filming of the vistas, with no commercial and residential structures in view. The State of California purchased land on the west section of the ranch for the Antelope Valley Freeway in 1962. The company worked with them to make sure it didn't intrude onto the filmed settings of the ranch.
The first movie made at Golden Oak Ranch was "Toby Tyler" in 1960. Disney would film numerous television series on the ranch that included "Spin & Marty", "The Mickey Mouse Club" and "Zorro". Disney movies filmed at the ranch include "The Apple Dumpling Gang", "Treasure of the Matecumbe", "Pete's Dragon" and many more.
Other productions filmed at the ranch include "Bonanza", "Little House on the Prairie", "Highway to Heaven", "The Waltons", "The Electric Horseman", "The Muppet Movie", "North and South", "Roots II", Colonel Sanders chicken commercials and much more.
Filmed segments of "Bonanza" episodes at the ranch include "The Burma Rarity", "Springtime", "A Stranger Passed This Way", "The Lila Conrad Story", "Bullet for a Bride", "Return to Honor", "The Waiting Game", "The Pressure Game", "Triangle", "Logan's Treasure", "The Saga of Squaw Charlie", "The Return", "Woman of Fire", "The Spotlight", "Her Brother's Keeper", "The Unwritten Commandment", "Something Hurt, Something Wild", "Horse of a Different Hue", "To Bloom for Thee", "Four Sisters from Boston", "Ballad of the Ponderosa", "Dark Enough to See the Stars", "The Wormwood Cup", "Maestro Hoss", "The Iron Butterfly", "The Saddle Stiff", and "First Love".
DIRECTIONS: To reach the ranch, you drive north out of Los Angeles on Interstate 5, then proceed to Route 14. Just one or two exits later is Placerita Canyon Road. Exit and turn right and then start looking for the entrance to the ranch. It will be about 1 mile ahead on the left. A word of caution: the ranch is private property. Stay off the land! It's strictly enforced with fences and guard dogs.
You can obtain glimpses of the ranch and get a nice view of the town set used in "Roots II". Go a little ways further to Placerita Canyon Nature Center and there's a trail which leads to the edge of the property and you can spot the oak tree the ranch was named after.