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Back where it all began: Disney100: The Exhibition now open at Union Station

A little over a century ago, Walt Disney boarded a train at Union Station in Kansas City, headed for an uncertain future in Los Angeles. He carried with him a pilot film for a silent cartoon series, “Alice’s Wonderland.”

Disney, of course, would become one of the most influential Americans of the 20th century, with a legacy that includes everything from movies and TV series to theme parks, clothing and memorabilia. His journey now has come full circle with Disney100: The Exhibition, which will be at Union Station through November 30.

“We are excited to bring the tour to Kansas City — a place that was instrumental in Walt’s life,” said Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives. “It was here where he forged his storytelling skills and his creative passion. Everything Walt did began with storytelling. It is the essence of Disney magic.”

Despite earning widespread fame in the glamor of Southern California, Disney never forgot the lessons he learned growing up in Marceline, Mo., and honing his storytelling skills in Kansas City.

“In 1938, he wrote an article for the `Marceline Press’ when Marceline was 50 years old,” said Kay Malins, executive director of the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. “In it, he recounted lots of childhood memories but he said a really important thing: `More things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since or are likely to in the future.’

“You have to think about what had happened to Walt Disney by 1938. He was born in Chicago, moved to Marceline, moved to Kansas City, moved back to Chicago, went to World War I, came back to Chicago, moved back to Kansas City, opened a studio, went broke, went to California, opened a studio, lost his character Oswald to an unscrupulous person, found Mickey and made `Snow White.’ Yet he said, `more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since or are likely to in the future.”

The exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Co.

station“With the passing of Walt Disney in 1966, his brother (and business partner) Roy O. Disney decided to create a formal archive of the company’s history,” Cline said. “He established the archives in 1970. The mission of the archives has always been to protect, preserve and make available for research the history of the Walt Disney Co. Today it also is the mission of the archives to share the history with fans the world over through publishing, fan events and experiences, and exhibitions.”

Disney100 features 14 interactive installations and hundreds of artifacts, including many from the latest members of the Disney family — Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel. The exhibition includes:

  • Original costumes for such characters as Cruella, Captain Barbossa, Black Panther and Ariel.
  • Props such as storybooks from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Sleeping Beauty”; Cinderella’s glass slipper; and a lightsaber hilt from “Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker.”
  • Photo opportunities with Goofy, the fairy godmother from “Cinderella” and other characters.
  • A wide selection of artwork showing the journey of animated characters and stories from concept to screen.

“Throughout the exhibition, we present some of the simple philosophies that Walt shared during his amazing career — the importance of storytelling, the addition of personality to beloved characters, the spirit of adventure and discovery, the wonders of the world around us, the magic in beautiful music and the excitement of experimentation and innovation,” Cline said. “These are what made Walt Disney’s creations so unique and special, and they are still the heart and soul of the stories and experiences the Walt Disney Co. produces today.”

In addition to the exhibition, a speaker series will feature the actors who give Mickey Mouse and Goofy their voices, Disney animators, historians and others.

The exhibition is open this summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $25 for adults, $22.50 for seniors, $18.60 for Union Station members; and $20 for children, with special group rates available. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit www.unionstation.org.

“Looking back, it’s difficult to think of any other company that uses and shares its own history more than Disney does,” Cline said. “Walt Disney’s timeless creations are just as popular today as when they debuted many decades ago.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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