Earlier this month at the biennial D23 Expo, the Walt Disney Archives mounted an unprecedented exhibit designed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Disneyland.
The 12,000-square-foot exhibit included themed areas that honored the park’s history, attractions, parades, and entertainment over the past six decades, including the construction of Disneyland, some of the park’s most famous attractions (past and present), Club 33, collectible merchandise, and each of the park’s iconic lands.
As a quick aside, I really do suggest listening to this episode of The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which features Becky Cline, the director of the Walt Disney Archives, and focuses on the development of this museum-quality exhibit.
For the first time at a D23 Expo, the exhibit was located on the show floor rather than relegated to some distant and confining room. The line was reliably long all weekend, but in my opinion, it was one of the few things at the expo actually worth waiting for. I ended up waiting about 45 minutes to get in, and it was worth every minute.
Truly, there were two or three standout highlights at this year’s D23 Expo, and this was one of them. (Later this week, I’ll bring you another.)
If you’re a fan of Disney/Disneyland history, this was a true treasure trove of amazingness not to found anywhere else. More than 300 items were on display, and they ranged from the small (Jungle Cruise models) to the large (a dragon head from Fantasmic!), from the extraordinary (Walt Disney’s employee badge) to the extremely rare (Disneyland ticket #1).
My favorite items were the larger pieces that have been removed from various attractions. Among the many: Captain Rex from the original Star Tours, a vehicle from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (my all-time favorite ride), and the recently removed Yeti from the Matterhorn Bobsleds.
But enough of me yammering. Take a virtual stroll through the exhibit here. True, this isn’t a substitute for seeing the real thing, but at least you don’t have to wait in line!