On July 6, a new exhibit will be opening at the Ronald Reagan Library. The exhibit, entitled D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives offers guests a look at the biggest public display of the Walt Disney Archives ever. It includes treasures dating back to the very beginnings of the Walt Disney Company and has artifacts through the years all the way up to props from movies that have just recently been released. The exhibit covers around 12,000 square feet of space and every corner is utilized.
On Saturday June 30, 2012 several members of online media were invited to preview this exhibit. After a brief welcome and introduction to the exhibit, the online journalists were set loose to explore this museum.
The first room showcases the beginning of the Walt Disney Company. Many Disney fans will recognize the artifacts found in this room. This room houses a script that was in Walt Disney’s desk through the years until his death of the original Mickey Mouse short Steamboat Willie. It also has memorabilia from some of his other projects during that era, original merchandise, and some videos about the time.
The next room is quite a bit smaller and focuses on animation. It includes an animation desk and also some of the restored books from some of classic princess movies. These may be recognized as the books that were opened and closed at the beginning and ends of these movies like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. There are models and other displays in this room that showcase the Golden Age of Animation.
The Hub of a Creative Empire
Moving along there is a much bigger room. Immediately noticeable is a car at the far wall, an office on the left, and a submarine on the right to point out a few artifacts. The office on the left is Walt Disney’s office. It has been meticulously recreated. Archivists used iPads to compare this office to Walt Disney’s original office so that every detail is exact. Even the books are in the precise place that Walt Disney once kept them. The piano that the Sherman brothers would use when visiting his office is found here as well. Other exhibits in this room include the submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the flying car from The Absent Minded Professor, one of Julie Andrew’s costumes from Mary Poppins…just to name a few things found there. It also should be mentioned that a giant illustration of Disneyland is also displayed here. Many other artifacts from classic Disney movies can be found in this room and the adjoining room as well. Some of these artifacts and movies are more recognizable than others. It is a wonderfully diverse collection of classic Disney memorabilia.
This exhibit also wraps around a hallway that is used to reach the room dedicated to the Presidents that is toward the end of the flow. It also includes memorabilia from National Treasure and some of the Disney animated features. There is also a pretty impressive mural made up of scenes from Disney animated features in this hallway.
A Big Tent
The next part of the exhibition is found in a big tent. However, if one wasn’t told ahead of time that they were entering a tent… they may not realize it. First, one must walk down a flight of steps (a whole was knocked into the wall to accommodate these steps and this expansion of the exhibition). At the bottom, after a quick right turn there is a hallway of magnificent costumes ranging from a dress worn by Julie Andrews in The Princess Diaries to the Cruella De Ville outfits worn by Glenn Close. Further along are some Enchanted costumes and artifacts from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. The details found on the tea party table are rather amazing. It could take quite some time to stand and absorb how much work went into that table. This hallway continued to wrap around the outside of this huge tent and included a display from Tron: Legacy along with some costumes and vehicles from the Marvel movies (Iron Man’s costume being one of them).
Finally at the end of this hallway one finds themselves facing the head of a dragon. This corner of the tent/display hall is dedicated to the Magic Kingdoms. The dragon from Fantasmic! definitely dominates this area. However, many other classic icons from both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom will be recognizable.
The center of this tent/display hall is dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The biggest part of the exhibit is a miniature (that isn’t so small) of the Black Pearl. The miniature of the Endeavor is also found here along with costumes and props from Pirates of the Caribbean.
A Patriotic Legacy
Seeing that this exhibit is at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, it is only fitting that there would be a room dedicated to Ronald Reagan’s connection with Disneyland and the Walt Disney Company. It also includes other connections with the White House through the years. Some of these letters in this room are pretty amazing and easily a highlight.
This room also has busts of every President of the United States. These busts are a part of the process of bringing to life these Presidents for the Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
“The magic of Walt Disney was larger than life, and the treasures he left will endure to entertain and enlighten worlds to come.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson
This quote is over a photo of Walt Disney in the last room. It faces a recreation of the Team Disney building from the Walt Disney Studios with a video of what is new and exciting from Disney.
D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives
D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives is an amazing exhibit for Disney fans of all ages and knowledge levels. There is something there that everyone will enjoy. It has a wonderful cross section of artifacts representing so many different corners of the Walt Disney Company. If the goal for the day is to the see the entire Ronald Reagan Library, plan on allotting a few hours to the Disney exhibition. If Disney is the main goal, and every sign must be read, absorbed, and photographed*… a whole day could be spent wandering through the halls of this beautiful exhibit.
Mr. DAPs Tours The Exhibit
The following video represents a quick tour of the entire exhibit. Elements of it will be broken up for future articles about D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives.
*Photography is allowed at the Ronald Reagan Library, but not flashes.