This past Wednesday, February 15, marked the unveiling of the much-awaited Disney100: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. This exhibit is among the major events honoring The Walt Disney Company’s centennial and will be accessible to visitors starting Saturday, February 18.
Visitors will have the opportunity to explore ten themed galleries, many of which will be enhanced by cutting-edge technology. Through this experience, they will be able to rediscover timeless favorites and delve into the inspiration behind some of Disney’s most cherished and renowned movies. They can embark on a journey to discover concealed artifacts from beloved Disney adventure films, look through an interactive window of Captain Nemo’s legendary submarine, and enter a replica of Main Street, U.S.A.
“This exhibition celebrates everything from 1923, when we first started, up to what’s coming up in the next year, stated Cline. “There are ten galleries in this exhibition and each one represents one of Walt’s philosophies.”
The 10 galleries, which are spread over 15,000 square feet, are: Where It All Began, Where Do the Stories Come From?, The Illusion of Life, The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery, The Magic of Sound and Music, The World Around Us, Innoventions, Your Disney World, The Wonder of Disney, and We Are Just Getting Started.
Overall the exhibit has 250+ artifacts, artworks, and documents, 318 Disney films, and clips on 4 dozen monitors, projections, and media.
Within the exhibition, which took four years to plan, will be 23 “crown jewels” from the Walt Disney Archives, which may be recognizable to Disney enthusiasts who have attended a D23 Expo or D23 Destination D event.
- Story Script Page from “Steamboat Willie” (1928)
- Visual Development Art for “Alice in Wonderland” (1951), created by artist and Disney Legend Mary Blair*
- Concept Drawing of Disneyland by artist and Disney Legend Herb Ryman, graphite on paper (1953)*
- Nautilus Special Effects Filming Model for “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954)
- Engineer Mickey Mouse used by Walt Disney on Opening Day of Disneyland, 1955
- Disneyland® Park Jungle Cruise Attraction Vehicle Model used by Walt Disney, “A Trip Through Adventureland/Water Birds” – Disneyland (TV, 1956)
- Prop Storybook featured in “Sleeping Beauty” (1959)
- Clean-up Animation for “Sleeping Beauty” (1959), created by artist and Disney Legend Marc Davis*
- Carousel Horse from “Mary Poppins” (1964), used by Disney Legend Julie Andrews
- Visual Development Art for “The Little Mermaid” (1989), created by artist and Disney Legend Glen Keane*
- Genie Maquette for “Aladdin” (1992), created by artist Kent Melton
- Spell Book from “Hocus Pocus” (1993), used by Disney Legend Bette Midler
- Mater Maquette for “Cars” (2006), created by artist Jerome Ranft
- East High School Yearbook from “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” (2008)
- Visual Development Art Digital Painting for “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), created by artist Sue Nichols
- Visual Development Art Digital Painting for “Frozen” (2013), created by artist Julia Kalantarova
- BB-8 Puppet used in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017), and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)
- Captain America Shield used in “Captain America: Civil War” (2016)
- Lumière Production Model for “Beauty and the Beast” (2017)
- First Order Stormtrooper Armor from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017) and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019), designed by Michael Kaplan and Glyn Dillon
- Black Panther Costume from “Black Panther” (2018)
- Cinderella Castle Model for Magic Kingdom® Park at Walt Disney World® Resort
- Attraction Vehicle from Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland Park
*Reproduction of the original
The largest item in the collection is the Peter Pan’s Flight attraction ride vehicle weighing in at more than 7 feet long and 7 feet tall. The smallest item is Han Solo’s dice from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”(2017). They were used by Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Naturally, the Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction ride vehicle is the heaviest at over 1,500 pounds. The longest item is the Nautilus special effects filming model from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954) approximately 12 feet long. The oldest item is a Zoetrope (c. 1860), one of several pre-film animation devices that when spun produced the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs. This was from Walt’s office. And the newest item on display is Wendy’s necklace and Captain Hook’s hook from the 2023 film, “PeterPan &Wendy.”
Where It All Began
This gallery introduces visionary filmmaker and innovator Walt Disney and his philosophies that laid the foundation for the Walt Disney Company. Guests will explore his story from before Mickey Mouse to Mickey’s debut in “Steamboat Willie” in 1928 to the fantastic breakthroughs in animation during the early 1930s.
In this area, archival footage from “The Alice Comedies” and “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” is showcased. Additionally, the exhibit chronicles the inception of Mickey Mouse (and Minnie) and more.
Where Do the Stories Come From?
A gallery dedicated to the art of storytelling with ever-changing multimedia environments that illustrate how Disney storytellers bring characters to life. Guests can explore the sources of inspiration for Disney’s most beloved and iconic films through art and artifacts from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Frozen,” and “The Princess and the Frog.”
In this gallery, visitors will have the opportunity to view some of Disney’s most legendary movies, ranging from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to “Frozen,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “Encanto.”
The objective of this exhibition is to commemorate the origins of these stories – be it from fables, fairy tales, comic books, or Disney’s own storytellers. One of the features of the exhibit includes interactive screens that allow guests to delve deeper into various novels, such as “Peter Pan,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Mary Poppins.”
The Illusion of Life
There are 25 maquettes on display including Victor, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996); Meilin Lee, “Turning Red” (2022); and Frozone, “The Incredibles” 2004.
To the left of Meilin Lee is Hua Mulan, “Mulan” (1998), Bernard, “Rescuers Down Under” (1977), and Pocahontas, “Pocahontas” (1995).
Here guests can explore the evolution of “Frozen” from screen to stage. On the left is an Olaf puppet from the Broadway musical. In the middle, is a video of the Broadway cast in rehearsals, and to the right are animation drawings from the feature film.
Here is an overview of The Illusion of Life gallery.
On display is the iconic red dress Emma Stone wore in the 2021 live-action film “Cruella.” This is the dress that appears after Estella crashes the Baroness’s parties and lights her white cape on fire revealing this red creation.
The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery
From the depths of the ocean and the mysteries of the jungle to the outer reaches of the galaxy, Disney adventure stories from Disney, Star Wars, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe invite exploration and discovery.
This room represents the human spirit of adventure and how Walt Disney (and The Walt Disney Company) tells stories that take place in real-world and imaginary environments – past and present.
The room will feature several interactive treasure chests, inviting children to embark on a treasure hunt to discover concealed artifacts from timeless Disney movies. In addition, guests will be able to peer through an interactive window of Captain Nemo’s legendary submarine, as seen in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” for a glimpse of Disney and Pixar’s enchanting underwater worlds.
Marvel fans have not been forgotten in the exhibition. To the far left is Chadwick Boseman’s costume from the hit film, “Black Panther.” In the display case is a collection of helmets and masks worn by various Marvel characters including Thor and Loki.
Here is Captain America’s famous shield that was used in the 2016 film, “Captain America: Civil War.”
On the left is Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa costume worn in the 2003 film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” To the right is a prop from “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” (2011).
Here is everyone’s favorite droid, BB-8. This “puppet” was seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015); “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017); and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019).
The Magic of Sound and Music
This room surrounds visitors with one of the things that resonate with many Disney fans – specific sounds and instantly recognizable music. It’s these songs and sounds that enhance and strengthen every Disney story.
In the display case is one of Giselle’s dresses worn by Amy Adams in the 2007 film, “Enchanted.”
At this interactive station, visitors can listen to “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” a worldwide hit from the 2021 hit, “Encanto.” Here visitors can listen to the song in over 20 different languages.
Guests can also watch scenes from classic Disney films, as well as view sheet music from Disney hits.
As part of the “Music On Stage” section, a Mufasa costume from the Tony Award-winning musical, “The Lion King.”
Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks
Guests step into a recreation of Main Street, U.S.A., to explore the legacy and development of Disney parks and attractions worldwide. The large table in the center of the room is an interactive display where guests can explore Disney Parks throughout the world.
This exhibit transports guests to a Disney Park. It will feature artifacts from current and former attractions from various Disney Parks. Some exhibits include a Space Mountain ride vehicle from Disneyland and a ride vehicle from Peter Pan’s Flight.
On one side is a reproduction of a Main Street, U.S.A. façade with various items such as a doll from “it’s a small world,” a demon (or sometimes referred to as a devil) from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, miniature models used on the “Adventure Thru Inner Space” attraction at Disneyland, and more. There is also a Mickey Mouse doll, dressed as a train operator, that Walt Disney used on the opening day of Disneyland.
Another unique feature of this exhibit is throughout the day the “park” will go from daytime to nighttime. So visitors will be able to experience the “park” at both times of the day.
The Wonder of Disney
In The Wonder of Disney gallery, guests can see how the world was and became fascinated with everything Disney. There are 93 Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm memorable scenes during the Into the Wonder prologue
Exhibits include artifacts and ephemera from the “Mickey Mouse Club” and Disney from the decades. The 1980s-1990s display includes the magic book from “Hocus Pocus.”
On display is the snow globe used by Julie Andrews in the 1964 film, “Mary Poppins.” Inside the globe is a golden replica of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Also from the Academy Award winning film is the carousel horse that Julie Andrews rode in the animated steeplechase scene.
Guests can marvel at the shimmering glass shoe that was worn by Lily James in the 2015 live-action film “Cinderella.” The shoe is dotted with Swarovski diamonds.
One of the best-kept secrets of the exhibition was the hologram of Walt Disney. After entering through a dark tunnel, guests find themselves in the “prologue room,” otherwise known as the Disney MagicStage.
According to the New York Times, “The Walt Disney Company used archival video and artificial intelligence tools to create a lifelike hologram of its founder — a full-size digital avatar that speaks in Walt’s voice and appears as part of interactive exhibitions of Disney artwork, props and costumes that will tour the globe until at least 2028.” The hologram will be located at the exhibit’s entrance.
Here Walt greets the guests and tells them about his philosophy.
“Frankly, there are people in this world who don’t realize that Walt was a real person,” Ms. Cline told the New York Times. “We want to make sure that everyone knows that our company was founded by real people — creative storytellers. Because that is so important to everything we do at Disney.”
Reaction to this hologram has been mixed on social media. Some thought it was “super cool” while others didn’t think it quite looked like him. One Twitter user said, “Uhm, not sure about this. I don’t remember Walt smiling that much when talking about new projects and the wrist gestures seemed out of character.” Others simply said, “Oh no. No, no, no.” Aside from his wrist gestures, other comments were directed at his hairstyle and how it didn’t match the rest of him.
Larry Dubinski, the President and CEO of the Franklin Institute, presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony, where he was accompanied by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. The event also featured several notable figures, including Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline, Head of the Walt Disney Archives and D23 Michael Vargo, Semmel Exhibitions’ Executive Producer/Director Christoph Scholz, and Disney Legends Don Hahn and Bob Gurr. The Philly POPS provided a musical performance of Disney classics.
Tickets for Disney100: The Exhibition runs from $18.00 – $61.00 depending on the time of day you’re attending, whether you’re a member of the Franklin Institute or not, and whether you also want to explore the entire museum or just the Disney exhibit. They are also timed and dated.
The Disney100: The Exhibition is set to tour museums around the world, with two exhibitions at any given time. The initial locations are set to be at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia from February 18 through August 27, and in Munich from April 18. One exhibition will tour North America, with cities such as Chicago and Kansas City announced for future locations. The other installation will move to London after Munich and then tour Europe and Asia thereafter through 2028.
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