In celebration of 100 years of the Walt Disney Company, fans can visit Disney100: The Exhibition to check out memorabilia, movie props, artifacts, artwork, and more that have been an integral part of the last century for the Walt Disney Company.
Disney100: The Exhibition takes guests through 100 years of Disney history, from Walt’s family and the early days of animation to theme park development and international pop culture phenomena. Guests will see a mix of artifacts, artwork (mostly reproductions), movie props, theme park ephemera, audio installations, video projections, and interactive digital storyboards. Most importantly, this is an exhibition brought to you by Walt Disney Archives, the ultimate authority on Disney history. If you’re a serious fan, this is the one exhibit you won’t want to miss.
What Happens at Disney100: The Exhibition?
I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to expect before attending Disney 100: The Exhibition myself. Was it immersive like teamLab Borderless in Tokyo? Was it more of a show, like Disney Animation Immersive Experience? Was it a sensory experience like The Strong National Museum of Play? Or was it a photo-centric selfie spot like Museum of Ice Cream? No, this is much more akin to a touring exhibition like David Bowie is from the Victoria & Albert Museum.
There is a lot about the exhibition that die-hard fans will love, and it’s Disney so there’s also a balance of fun for the family to explore. But make no mistake; this is an educational experience, not a play-based “Instagram museum.” Here’s what you need to know:
Ten galleries take you through the company’s history in a way centered more on storytelling than timeline. You won’t start in 1923 and wind up in 2023, but instead, each gallery includes things that span company history that share a narrative thread. That means that multigenerational families can visit together and each find something to connect with in every different space. Where It All Began focuses on the early company beginnings, family history, and setting out a company timeline. Where Do the Stories Come From? turns attention to the inspirations behind beloved films like fairytales, short stories, and comic books. The Illusion of Life looks at how animators use color, movement, texture, and other tools to make characters pop off the screen.
In The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery, we see nods to everything from The Nautilus and The Jungle Cruise to armor worn by Storm Troopers and Marvel superheroes. The Magic of Sound and Music is one of the most intriguing galleries, allowing guests to learn about everything from foley artists and re-recording movie music in a myriad of languages. The World Around Us shows us how far Imagineers and animators will go to research their subjects in the natural world.
In Innoventions, there are behind-the-scenes technologies to behold including Audio-Animatronic parts and information on software development that made Pixar movies possible. Your Disney World takes us deep into the world of the theme parks, and The Wonder of Disney shows how we’ve invited Disney into our homes and daily lives with some serious nostalgia like valentines cards, park ticket books, 90’s magazines, and television props.
The final gallery, We Are Just Getting Started, is by far the smallest, offering a glimpse of upcoming films like Peter Pan and Wendy. Fittingly, a 6-minute credits reel (you don’t have to watch it, but it’s impressive to see how many people were involved in creating the exhibit) rolls just like a film, and the exit is through the gift shop, just like a theme park.
Where Can I Get Tickets to Disney100: The Exhibition?
You can find out all the details about the experience here, but if you want to know where and when it’s on, just click each city name below to get ticket info for that location:
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at The Franklin Institute: February 18 – August 27, 2023
- Munich, Germany at Kleine Olympiahalle: April 18 – August 3, 2023
- London, England at London Excel: October 13th, 2023 – Early 2024
- Chicago, Illinois at Exhibition Hub Art Center: November 18, 2023 – Early 2024
- Kansas City, Missouri at Union Station: May 24, 2024
Each venue has its own type of tickets and packages, so costs and inclusions may vary (including things like VIP experiences, evening only tickets or tickets that include admission to other parts of the venue. It’s also worth noting that while the North American and European exhibits are almost the same, there are a few unique items on display on each tour.
Is Disney100: The Exhibition Good for Kids?
Overall, yes, depending on their ages. Here are a few things you should know.
Will kids get scared? Each kid is different, and there’s not really anything “scary” about the exhibition. If there’s a film or character represented your little one doesn’t like, just move along swiftly until it’s out of sight. But there are some darker spaces, and I did hear one child crying during the intro video because they were scared of the dark. There’s no place where you are “stuck,” so you can just keep swimming to a brighter spot where a new Mickey, mermaid, or Moana distraction awaits.
Will kids get bored? Maybe, depending on their ages. Babes in strollers will be fine because you’re wheeling them around a relatively calm, quiet atmosphere. Small kids may get bored and want to rush through as they bounce between things that interest them (if you want to spend some in-depth time with the Disney history of it all, this might be an occasion to bring another adult along so they can explore the rest of the kid-friendly Franklin Institute while you geek out). Older kids seemed fascinated by their parents, grandparents, and teachers sharing things from their own childhoods.
Will kids have to sit still and be quiet? No, kids can interact with many pieces of the exhibition, and chatter is fine. But it is a museum, not a playground, so being mindful of other guests trying to learn and explore will be important. If your child thrives with a more energetic experience, Disney Animation Immersive Experience or Disney On Ice may be a better fit!
Will my sensitive kid be okay? Each child is different, but nothing here is overly loud, bright, or dark. However, it’s a lengthy walk, so quick “escapes” for bathroom breaks, snacks or quiet time will be difficult.
Is Disney100: The Exhibition Good for Adults?
Yes, this exhibition was made with major Disney fans (like you and me!) in mind. Adults will get the most out of this experience because it does involve a fair amount of reading, listening to film clips, and generally understanding the impact of art and technology in the Disney parks and beyond. Huge Disney history fans will certainly find something new, and casual fans or folks who don’t know much about Disney but are interested in learning will find lots to enjoy. If you’re attending without kids, plan to spend several hours taking it all in.
Can I See Disney100: The Exhibition at Disney World or Disneyland?
No, this one is only available on tour in select cities across North America and Europe, but you can find a smaller display called The Disney Gallery Present: Disney 100 Years of Wonder at Disneyland for a limited time. Or, if you like the idea of learning about animation in an incredible show format, check out Cirque du Soleil Drawn to Life at Disney Springs!