Walt Disney Hometown Museum: Road Trip from KC
The Walt Disney Hometown Museum is the official destination showcasing Walt’s earliest years.
Walt had his roots in Kansas City and NW Missouri. He was born in Chicago, but his family moved to a 40-acre farm in Marceline, MO when he was 5 years old.
Walt Disney’s childhood hometown is worth the 2-ish hour drive from Kansas City.
Walt spent a little over 5 years at the idyllic farm where he started to develop his passion for drawing.
He also got his first taste of entertainment at the Marceline grade school where he had the title role in a class production of Peter Pan. That little town made an indelible mark that was the inspiration to the Main St. USA feeling at the entrances of his namesake theme parks.
Today, the local elementary school is appropriately named, Walt Disney Elementary. Can you imagine being a kiddo and attending Walt Disney Elementary? And being so near the official Walt Disney Hometown Museum? How fun to have such history steeped into their childhood.
His next stop after Marceline was Kansas City where he and his brother took up delivering newspapers to help the family. It is here in Kansas City where he discovered and fell in love with vaudeville and the movies.
After another move back to the Windy City, Walt started doing illustrations for his high school newspaper and attending evening classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
He hoped to be a newspaper cartoonist. As World War I is raging in Europe, Walt, eager to serve, lied about his age and was accepted into the American Ambulance Corps and went to France until the end of the war.
Now out on his own, he returned to Kansas City. Walt honed his skills as a cartoonist and commercial illustrator. He and a partner, Ub Iwerks started their own commercial art company but it failed after one month.
They both were then hired at the KC Film Ad Co. and discovered animation.
At nights after work, Walt toiled at his new venture, Laugh-O-Gram Films which produced advertising, topical shorts, and story cartoons.
Unfortunately, in 1923 the company went bankrupt and Walt and his brother, Roy, moved to Hollywood. It was there that they started Disney Brothers Studio. They hired Walt’s old partner Iwerks and other animators and the rest is history….
Walt weaved the memories of his beloved childhood home into many television, film, and theme park projects. To discover more about this icon of Americana you must visit the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline which is about 2 hours northeast of Kansas City.
The museum focuses on his formative years and his life-long ties to the community. The 10,000 plus square foot facility, opened in 2001, owns more than 4,000 Disney related artifacts.
You will learn about the “lost” theme park, known as the Marceline Project, which Walt envisioned as a live history park in his old hometown. It was going to have a fishing lake, a barn dance attraction, and other pastoral draws such as an old-time butcher shop, general store, barber shop, pool hall, and haberdashery. Activities for kids would have included a buggy train, miniature golf, and an area to play horseshoes. All the attractions would’ve been centered around the old Disney family farmstead. Sadly, the plans never came to life.
The building that houses the museum was once the Santa Fe train depot which is fitting given Walt’s love of trains. He first arrived in Marceline by train when he was 4 years old and would often go by train and stop in his old hometown on business trips between Southern California and Chicago.
Walt Disney’s presence is found all around the town, schools are named after him, and a restored barn at the old family farm can be viewed although it is on private property so please be respectful.
In 2003 Congress named the local post office after Walt. It became the only federal building named in his honor.
The Walt Disney Hometown Museum is located at 120 E. Santa Fe Ave and is closed on Mondays.
It is open from 10:00am-4:00pm Tuesday to Saturday and 1:00pm-5:00pm on Sunday.
This historical site successfully covers and conveys where Walt Disney began his lifelong endeavor to create magic. We’re so grateful that he ultimately brought all things Disney, to the world.
This museum is a wonderful day trip for the family. And be sure to check out our:
Day Trips Guide with 24 Ideas & Destinations
Eureka Springs, AR Family Fun Guide
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From our family to yours,