Walt Disney Archives 50th anniversary exhibit

The Walt Disney Archives Kicks Off a Yearlong 50th Anniversary Celebration

By Beth Deitchman

The Walt Disney Archives marks a major milestone next year and has just revealed plans for a yearlong 50th-anniversary celebration. The festivities kick off at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, where Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic opens to the public on March 7, 2020.

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.

Gold Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club will be invited to enjoy an exclusive look at the exhibit before it opens to the general public during a special preview night where they can chat with Disney archivists while exploring the exhibit, which runs through August 30, 2020, before heading to other locations around the country (to be revealed in 2020). D23 Gold Members will also receive a discount on tickets to the exhibit, as well as a discount on merchandise in the museum store. Bowers Museum is one of Southern California’s finest museums, showcasing exquisite examples of art and culture from around the world since 1936.

Throughout 2020, Disney fans will have additional ways to join the 50th-anniversary celebration, including:

  • The Archives will partner with the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for special El Cap Throwback screenings during the year.
  • A special exhibit, 50 Years of the Walt Disney Archives, will debut at D23’s Destination D event at Walt Disney World Resort in fall 2020. The exhibit will include 50 iconic treasures, each representing a year that the Archives has been in existence.
  • D23’s Behind the Scenes Experience: A Day at the Studio Lot events in 2020, held exclusively for Gold Members of D23, will offer a rare glimpse into how the Archives preserves the magic of The Walt Disney Company.
  • All Official Walt Disney Studios Tours in 2020, presented by D23, will include a special gift for guests themed to the 50th anniversary.

The Walt Disney Archives was founded by Disney Legend Dave Smith in 1970, and since then has carefully safeguarded the most treasured items from The Walt Disney Company’s history, and is a vital resource for every part of Disney, as well as an important research center for Disney scholars, researchers, and writers.

We’ll be celebrating alongside our friends at the Walt Disney Archives all year long. Stay tuned to D23 for more details about this milestone celebration.