After appearing earlier this year at the D23 Expo, Walt’s Plane has made its way to the Palm Springs Air Museum. This plane was purchased by Walt Disney in 1963 and is a Grumman Gulfstream I that was commonly referred to as “The Mouse.” After the D23 Expo, the plane was moved to the Palm Springs Air Museum where it is on a long-term loan from The Walt Disney Company. It is currently one of around 75 planes and other aircraft that are on display at the museum. It will also be getting its interior renovated in the coming years. This plane is a piece of Disney history that now people can see up close when visiting the Palm Springs Air Museum.
During the holidays, the Daps Magic team made the trek to Palm Springs to check out the Palm Springs Air Museum, and more specifically, to see Walt’s plane. It turned out that “The Mouse” is just one diamond in an amazing collection of aviation history in Palm Springs. More can be found on mrdaps.net about the full museum experience. However, for Disney fans, seeing Walt’s plane itself is worth the visit to Palm Springs. The plane was unveiled at the museum during a special D23 Event in December 2022. Since then, it has been on display for guests of the museum.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is found at the Palm Springs International Airport. It is on the other side of the runway from the main terminal and inhabits several hangars with dozens of airplanes. Walt’s plane can be found in the first hanger on the left when one is entering the museum from the bookstore. It is surrounded by several other airplanes from the mid-1900s and is in the back left corner of the hanger. As with all the planes at the museum, “The Mouse” is not surrounded by stanchions so guests can wander right up to the planes and look at them, inspect them, and even touch them (don’t abuse the privilege though!) This brings the history of each aircraft to life in a surprising way that really is quite remarkable.
Walt’s plane, in particular, is quite amazing to be able to walk around and inspect. Indiana Jones once said, “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage.” Well, Walt’s plane has had both. While it looks beautiful from afar and also closer up, looking closer at the plane one can see how the years and mileage have created individual moments in the history of planes. These little blemishes show that this is a plane that had life and was a part of history and not just a showpiece.
It was incredible being able to walk around and see the story of the plane in this way and imagine Walt Disney and company walking around the outside of the plane before and after flights. It really helped ignite the imagination and bring history to life. Docents were on hand to answer questions and there is also a plaque with a brief overview of the plane. Over on the wall, there is an exhibit about the plane that is very similar to the exhibit that was shown at the 2022 D23 Expo. This was fun to revisit in this environment that had more space and fewer people.
There aren’t that many things that can be seen up close, and even touched, that were touched by Walt Disney himself. It is one of the things I love about going to Disneyland and seeing things like the firetruck. Walt’s plane at the Palm Springs Air Museum is one of those things. It gives the opportunity to really experience Disney’s history in a very unique way. It is definitely worth taking the drive out to Palm Springs!
The Palm Springs Air Museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Tickets are $22 for adults and $17 for seniors, veterans, retired military, and teenagers (13-17). Active duty military members and their immediate families are free with an ID, as are children under 13. Tickets can be purchased at the Palm Springs Air Museum website (it is suggested to purchase online ahead of time). The museum is located at:
PALM SPRINGS AIR MUSEUM
745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 778-6262 /
More information can be found about the museum at PalmSpringsAirMuseum.org.
Here are a few fun facts about Walt’s plane that were shared by D23:
- 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 and in 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.