Want to explore a bit of Disney magic outside the Disney parks? We’re sharing a few of the must-do locations to add to your travel bucket list.
While Disney Parks will always hold a special place in the hearts of Disney fans, travelers may find themselves longing for a change of pace from their typical park vacations. If you’re eager to explore new places, but still want a good dose of Disney magic, look no further. Consider these enchanting alternative Disney destinations for your next trip.
Walt Disney’s Birthplace (Chicago, Illinois)
Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in a modest little Chicago home. Walt spent his early childhood years there before the Disney family moved to Marceline, Missouri. The home still stands today and has since been restored. The Walt Disney Birthplace has recently begun opening its doors to the public.
Walt’s Canadian Roots (Huron County, Ontario, Canada)
Not widely known is Walt Disney’s Canadian heritage. His father, Elias Disney, was born in Bluevale, Ontario, Canada, and he spent his childhood growing up in Huron County. Although Elias later moved to the United States.
Walt’s Canadian roots span multiple generations. While there are no plaques or designated locations to visit, you can take a road trip similar to the one Walt Disney took in order to see some of the places where his ancestors once lived.
The Walt Disney Hometown Museum (Marceline, Missouri)
Walt spent only four years of his life in Marceline, yet the impact this small town left on him was profound. The Walt Disney Hometown Museum preserves this memory with over 4,000 family artifacts, including personal letters written by members of the Disney family, gifts from Walt to Marceline, and photographs of both Walt and Roy during their visits to the town.
Marceline was a very special place to Walt Disney. His family moved to a farm there in 1906, and Walt considered it to be the place where “he found the magic of his life.” While the land is privately owned, visitors can still explore the Disney family farm and see its restored barn (see Walt’s Barn below for significance), year-round. Another significant Disney landmark is Kansas Avenue, said to be the inspiration for the iconic Main Street USA.
The Walt Disney Family Museum (San Francisco, California)
Co-founded by Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, the Walt Disney Family Museum is an immersive experience designed to educate and inspire future generations of dreamers. Filled with interactive exhibits, the museum shares Walt Disney’s life journey, while aiming to encourage visitors to explore their imaginations and pursue their goals. The museum also has artifacts, like Walt’s Snow White Oscar, which includes one standard-sized Oscar and seven smaller ones to symbolize the dwarves!
Disney Stores Around the World
Despite many Disney stores closing across North America in 2021, depending on where you’re traveling to next, you might still be able to visit one! If visiting either Tokyo, London, or New York City, you can still find Disney stores in all of these cities. Complete with fun theming and loads of Disney merch, these stores are a perfect way to experience a bit of Disney magic while on your travels.
Non-Park Disney Resorts (Hawaii, South Carolina, Florida)
Did you know that Disney has other resorts beyond the ones located near the parks? Explore options like Aulani in Hawaii, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, or Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. These destinations provide the amazing service and amenities normally found at any of the Disney park resorts, complete with their own unique theming that includes Disney touches throughout.
Take a Disney Cruise
Opting to go on a Disney cruise is another option to consider if looking for a Disney vacation. Disney cruises have the same Disney service, amenities, and magical theming you usually find at the resorts, but just packaged all on a ship! Complete with fun entertainment and enchanting character dining experiences, cruising with Disney may just be your next vacation!
The Walt Disney Studios (Burbank, California)
The Walt Disney Studios is closed to the general public, but D23 does offer a series of tours of the property to their Gold Members. If you are lucky enough to be able to purchase this experience before they sell out, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime for Disney fans! Members get to experience a two-and-a-half-hour walking tour of the studio grounds, which includes a visit to Walt Disney’s office, the Walt Disney Archives, and the Disney Legends Plaza!
Griffith Park Carousel (Los Angeles, California)
This spot is said to be where the idea of Disneyland first occurred to Walt Disney. While spending a Saturday with his daughters at Griffith Park, as he watched them on the merry-go-round, he began thinking about how there should be a place where parents and children can have fun together. For Disney fans wanting to pay respects to where the Disneyland idea first sprouted, visiting the Griffith Park Carousel is worth a visit!
Walt’s Barn (Los Angeles, California)
Walt used the model of the barn from the Disney family’s farm in Marceline, Missouri to build his own in his backyard in California. The barn is now part of the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum in Griffith Park. Aside from its connection to Walt Disney, this barn is worth visiting as this was where the plans for Disneyland were drawn up, making it also the birthplace of Imagineering.
Visiting Places Around Disney Events
Unsure of where to travel next? Plan a trip around Disney shows, events, or experiences! Consider attending the next D23 Expo, a Disney on Ice show, the Disney Animation Immersive Experience, or the Disney100: The Exhibition. Find out where these shows are heading next and plan a week(end) escape. You get to explore a new destination, while still enjoying a little bit of Disney during your vacation. For inspiration, check out WDW Magazine blog writer Trisha Daab’s posts on finding Disney magic in both New York City and Detroit!
There’s no question that Disney parks are always an amazing experience, and sometimes, going again and again is all any Disney fan really wants to do, but if you’re looking to extend your travels beyond the parks, these places are filled with just as much pixie dust. Every Disnerd should immediately add these destinations to their travel bucket list. So what are you waiting for? Get planning your next Disney adventure to embark on!