Golly! Southern California Disney fans have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate “50 Years of Preserving the Magic” now that the “Inside the Walt Disney Archives” exhibit has opened at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana (just about seven miles south of Disneyland in Orange County). Guests can “Discover the Magic Behind the Mouse” as they step into a fantastic display of items from throughout Disney history, including costumes, artifacts, toys, memorabilia, theme park animatronics, vehicles, and much more.
Pieces in the “Inside the Walt Disney Archives” exhibit date back up to a full hundred years (in the case of a megaphone used by Walt Disney while making films in the 1920s) all the way up through the current day and The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox. After a preview event for D23 members last Wednesday evening, the Bowers Museum held a media event and grand opening ceremony for the exhibition on Thursday.
Watch Grand Opening of “Inside the Walt Disney Archives” exhibit at Bowers Museum:
After the presentation, media in attendance were allowed several hours to explore the 10,000-square-foot traveling exhibit. I was personally entranced by the wide array of fascinating items on display from decades of Disney history, and especially loved the sections devoted to the Disney Parks and many of the company’s live-action films and television series.
Watch “Inside the Walt Disney Archives” FULL exhibit tour at Bowers Museum:
The first room in the “Inside the Walt Disney Archives” exhibit deals with the establishment of the Archives by Dave Smith and contains equipment from the creation of Disneyland, plus the recreation of Walt Disney’s office used in the movie Saving Mr. Banks starring Tom Hanks.
Next we visit a room dedicated to the Walt Disney Archives reading room, where research takes place. There’s an original Walt Disney Studios animator’s desk, the snow globe from Mary Poppins, official portraits of Mickey Mouse, and a Lady and the Tramp book signed by Walt himself.
The third room contains some very creepy antique Mickey & Friends plush dolls, more props from Mary Poppins and other Disney movies, the train conductor Mickey used during Disneyland’s opening day, a painting from Return to Oz, an animatronic Mr. Lincoln head from the 1964 World’s Fair, and more.
The following section is dedicated to the Disney theme parks and costumes from some famous Disney movies. I also got a big kick out of seeing the DHARMA Initiative Swan Station computer from ABC’s Lost and the Rocketeer’s rocket pack.
The big final room contains vehicles from movies like Herbie: Fully Loaded, Fox Searchlight’s Ford v Ferrari, and The Rocketeer. There’s also the shrinking machine from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Lumiere and Cogsworth from the live-action Beauty and the Beast, Wilson from Cast Away, Winnie the Pooh from Christopher Robin, and other fun props and costumes. The exhibit ends with a tribute to the Disney Legends plaza at the Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith’s actual Disney Legends award statue.
“Inside the Walt Disney Archives” runs from now through August 30 at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California. For more information be sure to visit the museum’s official website.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.