D23 and the Walt Disney Archives have partnered with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum and Library to present an incredible new exhibit called “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives.” This is the largest exhibit ever presented by the Walt Disney Archives and includes more than 500 items from Disney history, from Walt Disney’s birth through “Marvel’s The Avengers.”
If you’ve seen any of the previous similar Walt Disney Archives exhibits at the D23 Expo or elsewhere, you know what to expect from the latest installment, set up in Simi Valley, California.
It features a huge amount of artwork, documents, props, costumes, and various other Disney memorabilia. But this time they’ve dug deep into the archives, with nearly half of the items on display never having been seen by the public before. There is some overlap with previous exhibits, but no Disney fan will mind seeing these artifacts again. (This Disney fan was in hog heaven.)
Video: Tour the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit presented by D23
The exhibit is divided up into two sections. The first section covers Walt’s early life through live action movies. It has some outstanding items that are truly impressive, such as the original script for “Steamboat Willie” that Walt kept in his desk his entire career. Speaking of desks, Walt’s whole office is also recreated at the exhibit (formerly on display at Disneyland).
Other highlights include Alice Comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit items. In this section visitors will also find a huge model of the Nautilus from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and the Model T from “The Absent Minded Professor,” but my favorite was Emelius Browne’s peddler cart and other items from “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”
The second section is primarily dedicated to more recent Disney entertainment. It’s contained in a giant tent and contains some huge props. This is where the enormous former dragon head from “Fantasmic!” resides. Man, it is BIG. The room is filled with lots of costumes and props from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “TRON,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Iron Man 2,” “Marvel’s The Avengers” and many others.
Surprisingly, there aren’t that many theme park items on display. Epcot’s only appearance is in the form of a 1982 “We Did It” button and a couple photos of Presidents who visited the park. The exhibit is heavily weighted towards Disney movies, but the theme park items they do have are quite extraordinary. The Haunted Mansion section and the Hall of Presidents busts were highlights. Tombstones, Hitchhiking Ghost animatronics, an old changing portrait, collectibles, and the former attic bride figure make up the memorable Haunted Mansion section. All of the perfectly-sculpted Hall of Presidents busts are presented with care. Other recognizable theme park items include pieces from Star Tours, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (the Walt Disney World version), Country Bear Jamboree (the Disneyland version), Pirates of the Caribbean, and Snow White’s Scary Adventures.