In a rural area of the Midwest, you can find the lovely small town of Marceline, Missouri. Marceline is where Mr. Walter Elias Disney, or just “Walt Disney” as the world has come to remember him, spent four very critical years of his childhood. It was here that he found inspiration for many of his early animations and the accomplishments of his life that are more publicly known. It was also here that he discovered his love for steam locomotives that led him to make the Disneyland R&R, and the downtown strip of Marceline is actually what Main Street USA found immediately inside the Disney parks is based on! Especially for the original Disneyland Park that opened in 1955, this quaint town is Disney’s lock and key. Pictured below you can see the corner building of Main Street today in Marceline, Missouri, and the accurately detailed model of the corner building on Main Street in Disneyland.
Since Walt Disney grew to be beloved by so many, the people of Marceline have written him in as a big part of the city’s history, paying homage to the man behind the mouse in whatever way that they can. Where the railroad depot used to be is The Walt Disney Hometown Museum. Inside this museum are items donated by Walt’s sister, Ruth, that include an abundance of personal memorabilia not found elsewhere.
Walt Disney’s old school desk with his initials carved into it is included and preserved inside, and it brings an emotion about that I am not even sure how to explain! Can you become nostalgic about something you were not a part of? This museum and the items within make you feel like you were. Aside from the earlier parts of his personal life, there are artifacts showing his plans for Disneyland, along with souvenirs such as tickets from opening days and years.
In a part of the museum only accessible by small tour group (which I highly suggest signing up to take as it is included in the admission price) is the only remaining components of a Disney ride operated outside of Disneyland–Midget Autopia. This ride originally was next to the Storybook Land Canal for those that are familiar with the parks, but was taken out to make way for the well-known “It’s a Small World” attraction. This attraction was moved to Marceline as a gift from Walt and his brother Roy Disney, but from wear and tear was shut down sometime in the 70s. There is always a lot of buzz about the people of Marceline trying to get it reinstalled and up and running again, but for now, the remains are inside the Hometown Museum—and it’s pretty cool!
If you ask the kind lady at the front desk of the museum for a map after your time in the museum, she will give you a paper with other locations in the town with significance to Disney. Among them is the home him and his family lived in that you can visit and see from the street even though it is a private residence. The barn he spent much of his time playing in is a little bit further down the road in the back, and it is accessible by foot to go and take in!
What Walt famously called his “dreaming tree,” although sadly only the sapling of the tree is left at this point, is on the path on the way to the barn, so dream away where one of the greatest dreamers of all time did.
The downtown region that inspired Main Street begs you to pay attention to minuscule details—you will notice so many other things throughout Marceline that have Walt Disney’s mark on them, whether it’s a certain known font on a restaurant window or Mickey Mouse ears on a street sign.
Bottom line: Marceline, Missouri is FOR SURE somewhere to visit if you love all things Disney like we do. And even if you don’t, there is still a small town charm to it that shouldn’t be overlooked. 🙂
‘Til our next adventure!