Exploring the Disney Cats & Dogs Exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum

by | Nov 7, 2023 | Disney History, News Outside the Parks

If you love Disney’s adorable dogs and can’t-miss cats, you’re going to want to explore the new Disney Cats & Dogs Exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Learn more below.

The Walt Disney Family Museum invites you to em-”bark” on an enchanting journey into the world of animation and creativity with “Disney Cats & Dogs,” an extraordinary traveling exhibition that initially graced the halls of the historic Matsuya Ginza department store in Tokyo, Japan, in 2021. As part of the grand celebration of The Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary, this exhibition now makes its much-anticipated debut in the United States. You can experience the magic of “Disney Cats & Dogs” until June 2, 2024.

The Art of Animal Animation

“Disney Cats & Dogs” explores the artistry and innovation within Walt Disney Animation Studios, focusing on animal-inspired animation and storytelling. This exhibition peels back the layers to reveal the meticulous craftsmanship and boundless creativity that brought Disney’s iconic feline and canine characters to life on the big screen.

From the lovable main characters like Pluto, Lady, Tramp, Pongo, Perdita, Duchess, and Oliver to memorable supporting characters like Nana, Lucifer, and Percy, these captivating cats and dazzling dogs have left a mark on Disney’s animated and live-action films. Their enduring appeal continues to warm the hearts of audiences across generations.

A Glimpse into the Artistic Process

The heart of “Disney Cats & Dogs” lies in its extensive collection, featuring over 300 archival concept drawings, paintings, model sheets, animation sketches, posters, photographs, digital artworks, and final film sequences. These masterpieces provide an in-depth look into the craftsmanship and artistry behind Disney’s speaking and non-verbal four-legged critters. Every nuance of their design and movement is meticulously captured, reflecting the endearing personalities and unique quirks that have made them beloved characters in Disney’s expansive universe.

Disney Cats & Dogs Exhibit

Photo by Kathleen Lee

Walt Disney’s Love for Animals

Walt Disney’s deep admiration for animals shines through in this exhibition. His quote, “Animals have personalities like people, and must be studied,” is a testament to his commitment to understanding the intricacies of the animal kingdom. In 1930, Walt initiated an animation training program for his artists, aiming to help them comprehend both human and animal anatomy. Real animals often graced the Studios, allowing artists to observe and sketch them up close. This practice profoundly influenced the lifelike movements and individuality of Disney’s animated animal characters, solidifying their status as cherished figures for generations.

Personal Connections and Inspirations

Visitors will also gain insights into Walt Disney’s connection with animals through archival photographs, quotes, and personal anecdotes. Throughout his life, Walt and his family cared for numerous cats and dogs, drawing inspiration from their furry friends for various film sequences. 

“I went out and bought a chow, and I kept it under wraps. On Christmas Eve, I picked my chow up from the dog kennel, took it over, and kept it in a big hat box. I got a big ribbon on it. When the time came, I went over and put the little puppy in the hat box and tied it up with a ribbon. So, my wife didn’t see me bring it in. My niece went over, and she said, “Oh, it says to ‘Lilly from Santy Claus!’” So, she brought this big hat box over and put it in front of my wife. And my wife said, “Oh, Walt! You didn’t?!” She didn’t know I bought a dog. She thought I bought her a hat! So, she started to open it, and it moved. When she opened it, this little chow stuck its head out. And from that time on, that was her baby.” – Walt Disney.

Walt went on to say that he “never saw anyone so crazy about an animal.” This story would later inspire the film Lady and the Tramp. Do you remember the scene when Lady pops out of the hatbox on Christmas? 

Percy from Disney Cats & Dogs Exhibit

Photo by Kathleen Lee

Experience the Magic with Exclusive Exhibition Merchandise

For those eager to bring a piece of the exhibition home, the Museum Store will stock imported exhibition merchandise from Disney Japan, specially crafted for this event. These exclusive items offer a unique way to commemorate your visit.

“Disney Cats & Dogs” opens its doors to the public in The Walt Disney Family Museum. Don’t miss this enchanting experience that celebrates the timeless charm of Disney’s beloved feline and canine characters!

Posts by Kathleen Lee

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Kat Lee is a frequent window shopper and candy connoisseur on Main Street, U.S.A. You can catch her Disneybounding in Fantasyland while sharing stories and making memories as a media reporter for DLR Magazine. Check out her Instagram to see where she’s headed next or what the latest park trend is.
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Authored by
Kathleen Lee

Kat Lee is a frequent window shopper and candy connoisseur on Main Street, U.S.A. You can catch her Disneybounding in Fantasyland while sharing stories and making memories as a media reporter for DLR Magazine. Check out her Instagram to see where she’s headed next or what the latest park trend is.
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