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Inside the Walt Disney Archives Exhibit Now Open at Bowers Museum

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bowers Museum in Orange County has on display the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit until August 30, 2020!

Inside the Walt Disney Archives Exhibit Now Open at Bowers Museum

In 2020, the Walt Disney Archives is celebrating its 50th anniversary! If you’re unfamiliar with the archives, it was started by a Disney cast member named Dave Smith, who had discovered a snow globe from Mary Poppins randomly at the Studios. It inspired him to start gathering and preserving props, storyboard drawings, cels, basically anything that was of historical significance. I had the honor of getting to hear Dave’s journey of how he begun the archives a few years ago when I attended the D23 member event “Lunch With a Legend with Dave Smith”:

Now for nearly 50 years The Walt Disney Archives has created an astounding collection of pieces of Disney’s history. To celebrate, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA, just a short distance away from Disneyland, will have an exhibit that will give fans a rare look at some of the archive’s treasures. The D23 site says that:

“The traveling exhibit offers a rare look at some of the treasures from the archives, such as never-before-displayed production art from Fantasia, Walt Disney’s office set from Saving Mr. Banks, the original pitch portfolio used to secure investors for Disneyland, maquettes from animated films such as Peter Pan and Frozen, and much more. The 10,000-square-foot exhibit features more than 400 objects, including original artwork, costumes, and props that tell the story of the Archives, The Walt Disney Company, and Walt Disney himself. Guests will feel as if they’ve stepped into the Walt Disney Archives as they take in the dazzling display.”

The 50th anniversary exhibit, titled Inside the Walt Disney Archives is now open until August 30, 2020.  The exhibit will tour throughout the United States, but exact cities and dates have not been announced yet.

Walt Disney Archives 50th anniversary exhibit coming to Bowers Museum

I recently got a preview of what is inside the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit, and there are some absolutely incredible treasures! There are items ranging from Disney live action films, animation scripts, Walt’s personal items, Disney merchandise, Fox films, and Disney Parks. Below is a look at some of my favorite items:

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bowers Museum in Orange County has on display the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit until August 30, 2020!

The inside of the exhibit replicates what the actual Walt Disney Archives looks like on the Walt Disney Studios Lot

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bowers Museum in Orange County has on display the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit until August 30, 2020!

Walt’s Office

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bowers Museum in Orange County has on display the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit until August 30, 2020!

The exhibit as a whole holds 465 items, with 50 pieces of original artwork, 15 original on-screen worn costumes, 12,000 animation cells, and the archives’ oldest artifact, a 100 year old megaphone Walt Disney used making films in the 1920’s.

An animatronic birdcage that inspired Walt’s use of animatronics in Disney Parks

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bowers Museum in Orange County has on display the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit until August 30, 2020!

Tea on the Terrace at Bowers Museum

During the run of the exhibit on Fridays-Sundays, at 11am and 1:30pm Bowers Museum will offer Tea on the Terrace (food is provided by Patina Group, the same restaurant group that runs Catal at Downtown Disney), which is $60 per person. The tea includes sweet and savory treats with tea, as well as admission to the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit. We got to try out Tea on the Terrace during the press event, and it was an absolutely gorgeous set up! I loved it so much I already booked another time to go to take my mother. You can book Tea on the Terrace here.

Tea on the Terrace Bowers Museum

Other Special Events During Inside the Walt Disney Archives

During the run of the exhibit, there will be many other ticketed special events, including lectures and presentations with Archives director Becky Cline, producer Don Hahn, and author Jeff Kurti. On March 21st, there will be a special multi-course dinner hosted by “Eat Like Walt” author March Smothers. It will be $175 for Bowers Museum members and $195 for non-members.  The dinner will feature recipes that were Walt Disney’s personal favorites. Even if you are not attending the dinner, you can enjoy some of Walt’s favorite dishes that author Marcy Smothers has continued the tradition of by tasting them at the on-property restaurant Tangata during the run of the exhibit.

Myself and author Marcy Smothers

Other Events Running in Conjunction With the Exhibit

Other events running during the exhibit include:

  • March 7: Opening day lecture with Archives director Becky Cline
  • March 8: Lecture with author and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Don Hahn
  • March 14: “Theme Songs of Disneyland” with Stacia Martin
  • April 11: 50 Years of the Walt Disney Archives: A Gold Mine of Fun Finds lecture
  • April 25: Inside the 20th Century Fox Collection lecture
  • April 26: Why we Love Disney with Dr. Andi Stein
  • May 9: An Invisible Story: Trailblazing Women of Walt Disney Animation with Mindy Johnson
  • May 16: Dali and Disney: Destino with David A. Bossert
  • June 12: Disney Trivia Night
  • June 27: Weird Mickey with Becky Cline
  • July 12: Disneyland: Fond Memories of the Past Lecture
  • July 31: Virtual Reality Walkthrough of Disney’s Hyperion Studio with Hans Perk
  • August 9: Photo library presentation
  • August 15: Animation Lecture with Mark Henn
  • August 22: “The Art of Disney Costuming” book panel with Jeff Kurti
  • August 29: Sips, Bites and True-LIfe Adventures of Tiki with Martin Crate

Film Screenings:

  • March 29: Fantasia
  • May 31: Saving Mr. Banks
  • June 20: The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story
  • June 26: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • August 7: Isle of Dogs
  • August 21: Tron

Family Fun: 

  • March 22, April 26, May 24, June 28, July 26, August 23: Kidseum-led Disney Workshops
  • April 12: Disney-themed scavenger hunt
  • May 9: Pencils, Pens & Brushes: The Colorful Women of Early Disney Animation
  • July 13-24: Kidseum Summer Camp Presents Animator’s Boot Camp

Ticket Info for the Exhibit:

You can purchase Bowers Museum tickets plus admission to the special exhibit, or buy tickets exclusively for the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit for $23 here.

  • Disney Archives Only
    • Adults: $23 weekday, $25 weekend
    • Seniors & Students: $20 weekday, $22 weekend
    • Children 3-11: $5

Additional events happening in 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Archives will be special throwback screenings throughout the year at the famous El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. There will also be a special 50 Years of The Walt Disney Archives exhibit at D23’s Destination D taking place at Walt Disney World Resort in fall 2020.  Also for D23 Gold Members in 2020 will be a day at the Studio Lot in Burbank, CA which will offer a look into how the Archives preserves the history of The Walt Disney Company.

Walt Disney Archives 50th anniversary exhibit coming to Bowers Museum

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bowers Museum in Orange County has on display the Inside the Walt Disney Archives exhibit until August 30, 2020!

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