Most people know Walt Disney and the legacy he left in film and animation. But casual fans of Disney movies may not know that the man who made Mickey Mouse grew up in the small city of Marceline, Missouri (after which a portion of Disneyland was modeled), or that he loved trains so much that he built a miniature railroad in the backyard of his home in Los Angeles. For hardcore Disney fans and casual admirers alike, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum is a place worth visiting.
Established in 2001, the museum is housed in the restored Santa Fe Railroad depot in Marceline, and home to a collection of memorabilia from the farm where the Disney family lived from 1905 to 1909 as well as miscellaneous antiques associated with Marceline’s railroad history. The Disney collection includes personal family letters, photographs, Mickey Mouse dolls, Disney’s wooden school desk, and a track panel from his backyard railroad, which he named the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Many of such items were donated by the family of Ruth Flora Disney Beecher, Walt’s sister.
Also housed in the museum are a model vehicle and other items from Autopia, a race track attraction that can be found in Disney parks around the world. A version of it called the Midget Autopia operated from 1957 to 1966, then closed to make way for the It’s a Small World ride. It was donated to the city of Marceline, and found a new life in the Walt Disney Municipal Park just south of town. It operated for 11 years until the car parts were no longer available. In 2015, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding project to reconstruct the Autopia ride, but only attracted a fraction of their $500,000 goal.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open every day except Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday-Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The admission fee is $10 for adults, $5 for children aged 6-12 and free for children under 6.