This Saturday is Walt Disney Day – aka the anniversary of the day that Walt Disney was born in 1901.
So for this week, we will be celebrating the source of all Mousertainment – Walt Disney himself!
While many Disney fans make regular pilgrimages to Disney parks in the U.S. and worldwide, there are other places of interest that a Disney fan may want to visit. And today, I’ll be highlighting five of them – one in Chicago, IL, one in Marceline, MO, and three in California.
Let’s start with Chicago, Illinois. When people think of Walt Disney’s childhood, they tend to think of his idyllic remembrances of his time in Marceline, Missouri. However, Walt was actually born in Chicago. The house where he was born is currently being renovated and restored to its original state with the intent to inspire future generations of dreamers. The Walt Disney Birthplace currently hosts periodic public fundraising events and is regularly seeking donations to continue and eventually complete the project.
But the location that truly inspired Walt Disney’s Main Street, U.S.A. is Marceline, Missouri. This town hosts its own Walt Disney Hometown Museum. The museum houses various collections and exhibits dedicated to Walt’s life in Marceline and beyond, as well as his professional successes later. The museum is open Tuesdays-Sundays and admission can be purchased on site. The town itself also has other sites related to Walt such as the Disney Farm including the original Walt’s Barn.
Following Walt Disney’s path across the country leads us to California and the first of three places of interest there – Carolwood Foundation’s venue for Walt’s Barn in Los Angeles, California. Walt’s Barn is a place to celebrate Walt’s great love of trains and railroads. Here you can also see the “train station” that formerly belonged to one of Walt’s “Nine Old Men”, Ollie Johnston. This location is open the third Sunday of each month from 11am-3pm and admission and parking are free. However, the foundation greatly appreciates any and all donations. This location is also near Griffith Park, which was the site of Walt’s original inspiration to create Disneyland Park.
A few hours drive outside of Los Angeles, will take you to Palm Springs, California, the location of the western-style Smoke Tree Ranch – which functioned as one of Walt Disney’s favorite getaways from the hustle and bustle of the big city. He even owned a vacation home for his family there and enjoyed many of the local amenities including horseback riding. This beautiful site still functions today as a guest ranch open to the public if you, too, are seeking a nice relaxing escape!
Finally, there is the location I definitely want to visit at some point – the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California. Established by Walt Disney’s daughter, the late Diane Disney Miller, this labor of family love showcases Walt’s various accomplishments both personal and professional. While not associated directly with the Walt Disney Company, it nonetheless has a supportive relationship with the museum and therefore one can often find exhibits and screenings of Disney properties, courtesy of the company. The museum is open daily from 10am-6pm and admission tickets are available online or on site.
Have you visited any of these non-Disney Walt Disney-related sites? What did you think of them?