I had the privilege and the honor of visiting Walt Disney’s Boyhood Home of Marceline Missouri. I’ve lived in St. Louis for a little over 3 years now and I finally had the chance to take the three and half hour drive up to Marceline. Marceline is a small town of about 2,000 and once was the home to the Disney Family. It’s a small railroad/ mining town in north central Missouri, in fact the town sits on one of the main lines from California to Chicago and used to bring miners and families into town to work and farm the ample land surround town. They used to be dropped right off at the Santa Fe’ Railroad Depot in Marceline, in fact that is where the Disney stepped off the train to their new town after moving from the Chicago suburbs. So fitting that today that depot houses Walt Disney’s Hometown Museum! Walt would have walked right though the lobby of the train depot on his way to start a new period in his life and where this small town would have the most impression on him until the day he passed.
Walt continued to come back as the years went by and take part in dedications and ceremonies that were held for him and different things in the community. In fact the post office in Marceline is named after Walt Disney and they even released a stamp there of Walt. Walking through the town you’ll see different hints of Disney and Disneyland. It’s nice to see what Walt would have seen and gotten his idea for Disneyland. The Museum is little but informative and they have a lot of neat letters and artifacts thanks to Walt’s Sister Ruth’s family and Ruth for being a bit of a hoarder of letters and whatnots. Upstairs you can take a look at a model of Disneyland built by Dale Varner, he had been working on the model for over 40 years and visited Marceline for Toonfest and voiced his concern that while the model had been exhibited on several occasions at fairs and Disney events, it did not have a home where it could be enjoyed on a regular basis. He asked the Museum if they would like to have the model. The model was shipped to Marceline in the summer of 2008. That September Dale came to visit the museum to install the model. Dale continued to work on new pieces up until his death in 2009. You’ll see when you visit unfinished pieces of the model, it shows you the different stages in building the models.
The museum isn’t ran by Disney and is run by volunteers that are very informative and can give you a nice rundown of the history before your off to the rest of the rooms. It’s $5 for adults and donations are appreciated, the museum is only open from April to October because they don’t have heat or air to cool and warm the rooms to keep the artifacts safe and damage free. The building itself is rough in areas and they still have a long way to go before they can finally fix it up. They still have other artifact in climate control storage in Kansas City until they have a home to house them all. So take a trip out to Marceline and visit them museum, give them a donation and help them preserve the neat stuff from Disney History. While you’re in town stop by the spot of the old Dreaming Tree where Walt would sit and draw for his sister Ruth and would continue to visit on his trips back to town. See the Son of the Dreaming Tree they planted from the original so that the tree could keep on living. Take a look at Walt’s Barn further down the path also. Most importantly have fun and enjoy the magic!!