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D23 And The Franklin Institute Celebrate Opening of Disney100: The Exhibition

Today in Philadelphia, PA, D23 and The Franklin Institute celebrated the opening of Disney100: The Exhibition. This exhibit that is made of up of more than 250 objects that are the “Crown Jewels” of The Walt Disney Archives opens to the public on February 18, 2023. The special event today included members of the media and D23 members. The events today included a preview and ribbon cutting for the exhibit.

Franklin Institute President and CEO Larry Dubinsky hosted the day with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. They welcomed Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline, Head of the Walt Disney Archives and D23 Michael Vargo, and Executive Producer/Director of Semmel Exhibitions Christoph Scholz, for a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Disney Legends Don Hahn and Bub Gurr were also on hand for the special day. The Philly POPS played Disney classics for the event.

“Bringing stories of innovation and discovery to the public in an immersive and interactive way is at the heart of what The Franklin Institute has done for the past 200 years. We are thrilled that the world premiere of Disney100: The Exhibition ishere, offering the first opportunity to see the crown jewels come to life in beautifully crafted galleries reflecting Disney’s imaginative storytelling, innovation, discovery, and wonder,” said Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute. 

“The Walt Disney Archives spent years planning and curating more than 250 objects to capture the 100 years of storytelling, creativity, and unparalleled magic of The Walt Disney Company,” said Becky Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives. “We cannot wait for fans and families to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event celebrating the iconic characters and stories that have captured the hearts of audiences around the globe.”

These 250 objects include the earliest sketches of Mickey Mouse and animation drawings from his debut in Steamboat Willie (1928), the magical Spell Book from Hocus Pocus (1993), Cinderella Castle model for Magic Kingdom, a Genie maquette from Aladdin (1992), and the Black Panther costume from the 2018 film of the same name.

Disney100: The Exhibition – Walt Disney

The Disney MagicStage welcomes guests to the exhibit, which has 10 galleries. At the Disney MagicStage, guests get to see a hologram of Walt Disney himself as he shares a message about innovation and how the magic is made. The Walt Disney seen on stage is life-sized and came to being through the partnership of Disney StudioLAB, DisneyResearch|Studios, and Industrial Light & Magic. Together they utilized cutting-edge technology to bring Walt to life digitally and create this magical greeting by the digital avatar.

To do this, the teams tapped into the resources of the Walt Disney Archives. Two separate audio recordings of Walt were assembled, creating his vocal script. Footage of 1960s-er Walt Disney were also provided by the Disney Archives to DisneyResearch|Studios. This was then put into a super-resolution A.I. upscaler to convert the classic archival footage into a high definition format. This resulted in an authentic recreation of Walt Disney that came to being because of the collaboration of all parts of The Walt Disney Company. This was the embodiment of Disney’s saying, “We’re always exploring and experimenting.”

Disney100: The Exhibition Galleries

Once inside, guests can explore ten galleries in Disney100: The Exhibition. These include:

  • Where It All Began
  • Where Do the Stories Come From?
  • The Illusion of Life
  • The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery
  • The Magic of Sound and Music
  • The World Around Us
  • Innoventions
  • Your Disney World
  • The Wonder of Disney
  • We Are Just Getting Started 

While perusing these galleries, guests can experience this exhibit in a way unlike ever done before. The themed galleries have been enhanced with technology to make them more interactive and immersive. This creates the opportunity for people to experience Disney in a new and unique way. In a press release, it was shared that people can relive “classic favorites and explore the sources of inspiration for some of Disney’s most beloved and iconic films—embark on a quest to uncover hidden artifacts from favorite Disney adventure films, peer through an interactive window of Captain Nemo’s legendary submarine, and step into a recreation of Main Street, U.S.A. “

Disney100: The Exhibition Music

Another special part of the experience is the music that accompanies the visit to the exhibit. Composer Steve Mazzaro blended classic and iconic Disney music with a new theme that was created specifically for the exhibit. Visitors will hear songs like When You Wish Upon a Star and also Let it Go as they make their way through the treasure trove of Disney artifacts. Mazzaro has worked on Disney films that include The Lion King (2019), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), and The Lone Ranger (2013).

Disney100: The Exhibition Fast Facts

Some fast facts were also shared about Disney100: The Exhibition that share some details about this exhibit. Check them out below.

By the Numbers

  • 4 years of planning and production 
  • 10 galleries 
  • 11 costumes
  • Footage and photography from all 12 Disney Parks worldwide 
  • 14 interactives 
  • 25 maquettes of iconic Disney characters
  • 31 languages represented in international music reels 
  • 93 Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm memorable scenes during the Into the Wonder prologue 
  • 250+ artifacts, artworks, and documents
  • 318 Disney films and clips on 4 dozen monitors, projections, and media
  • 15,000-square-foot exhibition space 

Disney Details

  • Largest item: Peter Pan’s Flight attraction ride vehicle at more than 7 feet long and 7 feet tall
  • Smallest item: Han Solo’s dice from Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), used by Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher at ~1.5 cubic centimeters (chain excluded)
  • Heaviest item: Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction ride vehicle at over 1,500 pounds
  • Longest Item: Nautilus special effects filming model from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) at approximately 12 feet long
  • Oldest item: Zoetrope from the offices of Walt Disney (c. 1860)
  • Newest item: Wendy’s necklace and Captain Hook’s hook from Peter Pan & Wendy (2023) 

What do you think of Disney100: The Exhibition? Will you be checking it out? What are you most looking forward to experiencing in it? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!