Walt Disney's Hometown Celebrates His 100th Birthday
Walt Disney's Hometown Celebrates
His 100th Birthday
Disney's Dreams Began in Small Missouri Town
The largest-ever international gathering of Disney historians and authors is expected in Marceline, Mo. on Sept. 21-23, 2001 for Walt's Hometown 100th Birthday Celebration. Historians from as far away as Japan, Italy and the U.K. will converge on the picturesque town of 2,500 to gain a better understanding of the childhood experiences that defined the world's most famous animator. Tens of thousands of visitors and a cast of costumed Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse will join in the celebration of a real slice of Americana.
Walt himself claimed Marceline as his hometown in a letter he wrote for the Marceline News in 1938, "I'm glad I'm a small town boy and I'm glad Marceline was my town."
Located about 90 miles from Kansas City in north-central Missouri, Marceline was Walt Disney's home for five years beginning in 1906. The formative years he spent in Marceline prior to moving to Kansas City in 1911 were a major influence on his work and the rest of his life. In fact, the main street of Marceline was the model for "Main Street, U.S.A.," the entryway to Disneyland and Walt Disney World amusement parks.
Walt's time in Marceline stimulated his imagination, and it was during this time that Walt developed his interest in drawing. Historians believe that Disneyland's Matterhorn was inspired by the town's former coal mine and slag pit, and that he developed his interest in trains and farm animals while in Marceline.
In the 1938 letter to the Marceline News, Disney wrote of his time in this idyllic American town, "To tell the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since -- or are likely to in the future."
Marceline's three-day birthday celebration will include lectures and roundtable discussions by Disney historians, artists and authors; storytelling and reenactments of Disney events in Marceline; the Doc Sherwood Art Contest; the Barnyard Olympics, where children of all ages can compete in some of Walt's daily chores around the farm; a baked apple pie and barbeque contest; the Cricket Market, including unique collectibles from the world's most famous Disney collectors; a barn raising, where visitors can take part in the raising of a replica of Walt's train barn; live music; and the Main Street U.S.A. Parade where visitors are invited to grab their instruments and the sheet music provided by the event organizers and join in.
Through federal grants, donations and private funding, the town of Marceline is also converting the old train depot into an interactive museum that will celebrate the Disney family's time in Marceline and the town's railroad heritage. The Depot Museum, the first museum dedicated to the lives of Walt Disney and his older brother, Roy, will house thousands of treasures from their lives and will be dedicated during the birthday celebration.
In addition to the Depot Museum, visitors to Marceline will have the chance to tour more than 20 different sites considered significant to Disney's life, including the Walt Disney Elementary School, which houses Walt's first- grade school desk with his twice carved initials, and Walt's dreaming tree, his favorite escape where his imagination could run free. A walk down Marceline's Main Street U.S.A. includes a stop at the Uptown Theater, where in 1956 Walt and Roy Disney held the Midwest premier of their feature film "The Great Locomotive Chase." In 1998, the world premier of "The Spirit of Mickey" was held in the same theater.
For more information about this event or other Missouri vacation ideas, consumers can call 800/519-4800 to receive a free 2001 Official Missouri Vacation Planner or visit us on the Web at www.visitmo.com.
-- posted on September 19, 2001
Source: Missouri Division of Tourism