Walt’s Plane Heads West for First Time in Three Decades for D23 Expo Appearance

Walt Disney’s personal plane is returning to the West Coast for the D23 Expo. The plane is making its way to Anaheim, California to be on Display at the expo. The plane’s exterior has been restored and will be a part of an exhibit in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena called Mickey Mouse One: Walt’s Plane presented by Amazon. The exhibit will share the history of the plane and also show its importance to The Walt Disney Company’s history as it looks forward to its 100th anniversary. This exhibit was made possible by D23 and the Walt Disney Archives, along with D23 Expo Platinum sponsor Amazon.

Walt Disney acquired this iconic Gulfstream in 1963. It would be known as The Mouse. The interior of the plane was initially designed with the creative input of both Walt Disney and also his wife Lillian. It could seat up to 15 passengers and had a galley kitchen, two restrooms, two couches, a desk, and also nods to the mouse who started it all. This included matchbooks and stationery that was adorned with a silhouette of Mickey Mouse. In 1967, Mickey’s initials were also eventually included in the tail number of the plane, too, as N234MM.

The plane was in service of The Walt Disney Company for 28 years. During this time it flew 20,000 hours and transported approximately 83,000 passengers before being grounded.

The plane has been repainted and has updated wing edges and windows that will be viewable with some other never-before-exhibited items from inside the plane. This includes a customized instrument panel that was originally located near Walt’s favorite onboard seat. This allowed him to watch flight conditions. There will also be a telephone that Walt would use for direct communication with the pilot in the cockpit. A flight bag that features an image of Mickey Mouse sitting on the tale of the plane will also be on hand, along with some other artifacts.

The return of Walt’s plane to the West Coast marks the first time it has been on this side of the country since it landed on World Drive in Orlando, Florida, at Disney-MGM Studios (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) on October 8, 1992. There it stayed until 2014 as a part of the Studio Backlot Tour. The refurbishment of the outside of the plane and the cross-country move for the plane was made possible with the collaboration and support of Walt Disney Imagineering.

The D23 Expo will kick off Disney100. This will be a celebration of the 100-year history of The Walt Disney Company. For this exhibit, guests will get to “take to the skies” and learn about this plane and the important part it played in the company’s history:

  • In 1963, Walt, members of his family, and company executives took off on a demonstration Gulfstream aircraft to explore potential locations, including Central Florida, for a proposed development often referred to as “Project X.” After Walt received his own Gulfstream in early 1964, he made several trips to Florida that ultimately laid the foundation to bring the magic of Walt Disney World to life.
  • Walt’s plane flew a total of 277,282 miles back and forth between Burbank and New York to oversee preparations before and during the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, an event that brought iconic attractions such as “it’s a small world” to an East Coast audience and, later, to Disneyland.
  • The plane also took Disneyland to new heights as Walt found inspiration for the look of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as he flew over the El Moro fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico, while conducting research for the now fan favorite.
  • “The Mouse” has a star-studded past, having been used for promotional tours for Disneyland as well as for classic movies such as The Jungle Book (1967), as well as making appearances in The Walt Disney Studios films The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969) and Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (1972), both of which starred Disney Legend Kurt Russell. The aircraft has also transported notable guests including Disney Legends Julie Andrews and Annette Funicello, as well as former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
  • Painted blue and white in 1985, Walt’s plane embarked on goodwill tours and character visits to children’s hospitals, adding to the company’s history of giving back to the community.

For Disney fans at the D23 Expo, Amazon’s immersive space on the showroom floor will provide plenty to do and see, along with shopping opportunities. There will also be the opportunity to see the customer merchandise related to Mickey Mouse One: Walt’s Plane.

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