Marceline, Missouri: Part of Walt Disney's story
MARCELINE - Tucked into a small part of Linn County sits Marceline, Mo. and the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.
Walt Disney, the man behind Disney World and Mickey Mouse, spent only a short time in Marceline, but it was some of the most important years of his life.
“Anybody would reflect back and understand that not only in terms of age was Marceline the most formative years of Walt’s life, but it was also the most magical,” Peter Whitehead, the museum’s creative director, said. “He just got to be a child here.”
Whitehead has been a Walt Disney fan since he was a kid, and he found this museum with his son a couple years ago. As creative director, his job is to showcase Disney’s story.
“He’s a bit of my idol, which is why it’s amazing I get to tell his story here in Marceline,” he said.
The museum is a different place than the amusement parks the world has come to know. It is meant to tell Walt’s story - from the time he was born, to how Marceline became a major part of his life and a heavy influence later.
“Marceline is literally imprinted in Walt," Whitehead said. "Even though he was born in Chicago, he would tell people he was from Missouri.”
One of the major aspects of the museum is letters and artifacts from the Disney family, including Walt’s siblings and parents.
“I can go through our archives, and I’ll open up an envelope and I get to see a letter from Disney and it’s signed by Walt,” Whitehead said. “I just get giddy.”
People from all over the world come to the museum to see and learn more about Disney. It has 4,000 artifacts donated by Disney’s younger sister, Ruth. It also features what Whitehead calls “story stations.” These are short, two to three minute videos, talking about different aspects of Disney’s story told by people who knew him. They range from him coming to Marceline, to his love for trains, to how he talked his little sister into painting the home with tar one day.
Whitehead said the museum being in Marceline, at one of Walt’s favorite places in the world, is important to him.
“Marceline, for a Disney fan, is easily the most important story there is on the face of the earth,” Whitehead said. “I would hope he would look down and think the right people are in place in order to tell his story the way he would want it told.”
If you would like to visit this unique part of Missouri’s history, the museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays, and you can find more information on the Walt Disney Hometown Museum’s website.