Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, Missouri

Last updated on February 2nd, 2024 at 08:49 am.

The Walt Disney Hometown Museum is located in Marceline, Missouri and is the town where Walt Disney grew up. The museum showcases Walt’s early life and his creative influences and is dedicated to preserving the life and legacy of Disney. It shares the story of his family, his love of trains, and what sparked the idea for Disneyland.  

Todd and I visited the museum on a day trip from Kansas City that included a stop at Levi Garrison Brewery in Hamilton, Missouri and the Laclede Covered Bridge.

We were expecting a small museum and were surprised that the Walt Disney Hometown Museum features 2000+ exhibits, artifacts, and displays that illustrate Walt Disney’s childhood in Marceline and his journey to becoming one of the most influential figures in the entertainment industry.

The Disney Hometown Museum is located halfway between St. Joseph and Hannibal and two hours from Kansas City.

Walt Disney in Marceline

The museum is filled with video interviews with Disney, family members and family friends. There is even a TV recording of the opening day of Disneyland and a movie about the making of “Snow White.” So much Disney history! So many artifacts, art and cartoon clips.

Learn how Disney created his legacy, began drawing cartoons, and ventured into the feature film world. This museum is a unique opportunity to learn about Disney’s life and his amazing legacy and career creating the happiest place on earth told at media stations via videos and interviews.

If you visit the museum, make sure to also go to the Walt Disney Dreaming Tree and Barn just a few miles away. (The museum will give you a map.) Also of note: The main street of Marceline is the inspiration for Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland.

If you follow your dreams, they really can come true, and they just might be magical! For now, let’s follow Walt Disney’s legacy in the town of Marceline!

Walt Disney’s Time in Marceline

Walt Disney was the fourth of five children and just four years old when he and his family moved to Marceline, Missouri in 1906. Walt lived in Marceline for about six years, until his family moved to Kansas City in 1911. Despite the relatively short time he spent in Marceline, it had a lasting impact on Walt and is considered one of the key places that shaped his early life and creativity.

In fact, he often credited his time in Marceline as the inspiration for some of his most famous works, such as Main Street USA at Disneyland, which was based on the small-town charm of Marceline.

As an adult Walt Disney wrote, “To tell the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened to me since, or are likely to in the future”. 

Walt’s Love of Trains

Walt Disney Boyhood home

Walt Disney’s uncle, Mike Martin, was a train conductor. Uncle Mike worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and was a big influence on Walt’s life and his love of trains. Walt and his family lived near the Santa Fe tracks in Marceline, Missouri, and Walt often watched his uncle pull into the station and sometimes was invited to jump aboard as it coasted into the station.

This is an excerpt from an article written by Walt Disney for Railroad Magazine from October 1965 entitled “I Have Always Loved Trains”

“I suppose I’ve always been in love with trains. As a small boy living on a farm near Marceline, Missouri, I had a unique claim to fame: my Uncle Mike was an engineer on the Santa Fe’s accommodation train that ran between Marceline and Fort Madison. That was something to brag about to my schoolmates at a time when railroads loomed large in the scheme of things and steam engines were formidable and exciting”.

Walt’s fascination with trains continued throughout his life, and he went on to create several train-themed attractions at Disneyland and other Disney theme parks, including the Grand Canyon Diorama, the Disneyland Railroad, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. These attractions have become some of the most popular and beloved attractions at Disney theme parks and are a testament to Walt’s lifelong passion for trains and his uncle Mike’s influence on his life.

Walt Disney Hometown Museum

Disney Hometown Museum

The Walt Disney Hometown Museum appropriately honors Disney with its location inside the former Santa Fe train depot.

The museum works closely with the Disney family to ensure that the history and heritage of the Disney family is accurately portrayed. The town remains an important part of Walt’s life and legacy and is a popular destination for fans of Disney and his work.

Roy and Walt Disney in Marceline

Walt and Roy’s sister, Ruth Flora Disney Beecher amassed a considerable collection of personal artifacts that showcased the achievements of her brothers. There are personal letters throughout the museum to and from her family that showcase their close-knit and loving family ties. 

Before Ruth passed away in 1995 she requested her collection be displayed in Marceline, the one location on the planet that resonated the strongest with her family.  

Mickey Mouse at Disney Museum in Marceline

Visitors to the museum can see a variety of exhibits that highlight different aspects of Walt Disney’s life, including his family, friends, and early career. The museum showcases many of his characters including Mickey Mouse in early animation as well as dolls and other items.

early Mickey Mouse creations

The museum has a lot of fun Mickey Mouse memorabilia. Each exhibit shares great information and history about each item.

Mickey Mouse record player

A portion of the museum focuses on the Disney family and shares information about parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins. There is even a replica of the family’s front porch in the museum as well.

Walt and Roy's parents: Elias and Flora Call Disney
Walt and Roy’s parents: Elias and Flora Call Disney

There is also a section of the museum dedicated to Roy Disney.

Roy Disney section at the museum in Marceline

Some of the additional highlights of the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline include:

  • Laugh-O-Gram Studio: The museum features a model of the Laugh-O-Gram Studio, one of Walt’s first animation studios. Visitors can learn about Walt’s early career as an animator and how he went on to revolutionize the world of animation.
  • Artifacts and Memorabilia: The museum has a collection of artifacts and memorabilia related to Walt Disney, including personal items such as clothing, toys, and personal letters, as well as artifacts from his various animation studios and theme parks.
  • Main Street USA: The museum features a replica model of Main Street USA, which was inspired by Marceline’s Main Street and is a central feature at Disneyland and other Disney theme parks.
  • Interactive Displays: The museum has interactive displays that allow visitors to explore Walt Disney’s life and career in a fun and engaging way. These displays may include multimedia presentations, touch screens, and hands-on activities.
  • Memorabilia of The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) and The Spirit of Mickey (1998), two films that premiered in Marceline.
  • Walt Disney: The Man Behind The Myth 2 hour movie. 

These are just a few examples of the exhibits you can see at the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.

In addition to exhibits, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events, such as tours, workshops, and lectures, designed to help visitors learn more about Walt Disney and his impact on the world. Whether you’re a fan of Walt Disney, a historian, or just someone who loves learning about American culture, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum is a must-visit destination.

All Disney fans should include Marceline as a stop on a Disney road trip!

If you visit, plan for at least one hour. This would be enough time to do a quick tour of the museum. I imagine for Disney fans, a full day may not be enough time to really take in all the movies, interviews, animations and to read all the display text.

Walt Disney Hometown Museum Address: 120 E Santa Fe Ave Marceline, MO 64658

Another great Disney museum is the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio in San Francisco.

Additional Things to Do In Marceline, Mo

Marceline, Missouri, is a unique and interesting town with a rich history. Much of the history is focused on the Disney family and its importance as a railway town. Here are a few additional fun things to do in Marceline in addition to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.

The Disney Brothers Memorial Statue

The bronze statue, located in front of the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, depicts Walt and his brother and business partner, Roy Disney. The statue is a tribute to the Disney brothers and their impact on the entertainment industry.

Walt Disney Dreaming Tree and Barn 

Disney Farm in Marceline

The Disney Family Farm and Dreaming Tree in Marceline, Missouri are important landmarks associated with Walt Disney’s childhood. The Disney Farm was a 45-acre farm that was purchased by Walt’s father, Elias Disney, in 1906.

Both the Disney Farm and the Wishing Tree are important parts of Walt Disney’s story and are part of the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline.

Head to the museum first to learn about Walt’s life on the farm, including his time spent playing in the fields and daydreaming under the Wishing Tree.

After the museum, visit these sites as they will truly bring Walt’s story to life and provide a unique insight into his early years and the places that helped to shape his creativity and imagination.

The Dreaming Tree

Disney Dreaming Tree in Marceline

The Dreaming Tree was a cottonwood tree that is said to have been Walt’s favorite spot on the farm. It is said that he would often sit under the tree and dream up ideas for his future creations.

Walt’s original dreaming tree was struck by lightning but was replaced with a sapling planted with a few seeds of the original dreaming tree.

Son of Dreaming Tree

Son of Dreaming Tree
This photo was taken in winter, so I’m sure it’s much more impressive in full bloom!

The Son of Dreaming Tree was a sapling planted in September of 2004 by Walt’s grandson Bradford Disney Lund and two Walt Disney World Ambassadors. Soil from the Magic Kingdown and water from the Rivers of America were mixed with soil from the farm for the planting ceremony. 

Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn

When Walt and his family lived on the farm, there was a farm barn. Walt has said it is one of his fondest memories of Marceline and in 1950 he had a replica of the family barn built in his Holmy Hills, California backyard. 

Disney Barn in Marceline

Walt used the California barn as a personal workshop for the Carolwood Pacific Railway. Walt referred to it as his ‘happy place’ and is considered the birthplace of Disney Imagineering.  

The barn on the Disney Farm today, was built by volunteers in 2001 to celebrate Walt’s 100th birthday. It was constructed using the blueprints from Walt’s Holmby Hills, California workshop.

Marceline Barn

And yes, autographs, notes, and drawings for Walt and Roy are encouraged on the inside of the barn. 

Inside of Disney Barn in Marceline

There are drawings, notes, and signatures on every piece of wood inside the barn. It’s quite moving and fun to read the many notes to Walt and Roy.

Disney barn drawings Marceline.
Todd Meisler leaving a note in Disney Barn.

So, make sure to bring a sharpie!

Walt Disney Dreaming Tree and Barn Address: 275 W. Broadway St., Marceline, MO

Main Street USA

Marceline, Missouri's Main Street

Marceline, Missouri’s Main Street served as the inspiration for Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Main Street, U.S.A. is the entrance area to Disneyland, and it is designed to evoke the feeling of a turn-of-the-century small town, complete with Victorian-style architecture, horse-drawn streetcars, and a replica of a steam train.

Walt Disney was heavily influenced by his time in Marceline. He remembered Marceline’s Main Street as being a central part of the town, a bustling hub of activity, and a place where people from all walks of life would come together. When he was designing Disneyland, he wanted to recreate that sense of community and small-town charm in the entrance area, and Marceline’s Main Street served as the model for Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland has become one of the park’s most iconic areas, and it is often described as a “window to the past.” Visitors to Main Street, U.S.A. can step back in time and experience the nostalgia of a simpler era, complete with vintage shops, restaurants, and other attractions.

The street at Disneyland is lined with old-fashioned street lamps, vintage vehicles, and period-style storefronts, all of which help to create a feeling of stepping back in time. The area is also home to several key attractions, including the Disneyland Railroad, which provides a tour of the park, and the Disney Princesses, who make daily appearances for meet-and-greets with visitors.

Fun Facts about Marceline, Missouri

Marceline, Missouri's Main Street USA

Whether you are interested in history, and culture, or simply in exploring the rural heartland of the United States, Marceline is a unique and fascinating town that is well worth a visit.

Here are a few interesting facts about Marceline:

  • Marceline was incorporated in 1887 and has a long history as a railway town. The Santa Fe Railroad played a major role in the development of the town, and Marceline was an important stop on the transcontinental railway line.
  • Most notably, Marceline was the childhood home of Walt Disney and was a major influence on his life and work. Walt lived in Marceline from 1906 to 1911 and has described the town as the “happiest place on Earth.”
  • Marceline is known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World.” The town’s fertile soil and temperate climate are ideal for growing mushrooms, and Marceline is home to several mushroom farms and processors.
  • Marceline has a strong community spirit and a rich cultural heritage. The town is home to a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Walt Disney Hometown Festival, which is held annually in honor of Walt Disney and his connection to Marceline.
  • Marceline is located in the heart of Missouri’s rural countryside, and the town is surrounded by rolling hills, farmland, and forests. The town is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, including fishing, hunting, and hiking, and is a great place to enjoy the beauty of rural Missouri.
  • Walt’s 1949 film “So Dear To My Heart” was set in the early 1900’s and reflects the time period the Disney family spent in Marceline. 

Walt Disney’s Time in Missouri

Welcome back Walt and Roy Disney

Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois. He lived in Missouri from 1906-1917 (11 years).

  • Walt Disney lived in Marceline from 1906 to 1911.
  • Walt Disney was four years old when he moved to Marceline.
  • Walt Disney and his family moved to Kansas City in 1911, when he was nine years old. They lived at 3028 Bellefontaine until 1917. While attending Benton Elementary School, Disney took Saturday drawing classes at the Kansas City Art Institute.
  • Walt and Roy returned to Marceline many times as adults to big celebrations and huge crowds.
Disney Celebration in Marceline

These locations, along with the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, are important parts of the town’s history and offer visitors a unique insight into Walt Disney’s life and his connection to Marceline.

Whether you are a fan of Disney’s films, theme parks, or simply of the man himself, a visit to Marceline is a must for anyone interested in the life and legacy of Walt Disney.

More Museums in Missouri Worth a Visit

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5 thoughts on “Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, Missouri”

  1. When I think of Disney, the first place that comes to mind for me is Florida and then California. Never Missouri! Since it is two hours from Kansas City, I will be there in June and plan to check this place out.

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  2. Wow, I didn’t realize that I knew nothing about Walt Disney’s childhood before this! I had no idea that he grew up in Missouri. What a great museum, I’d love to visit it for myself and learn even more!

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