Marceline: Where Walt Found the Magic

Marceline is the hometown of Walt Disney, where he spent a great deal of his childhood years.

Main Street USA at the Disney theme parks are inspired by downtown Marceline.  A walk down this original Main Street USA gives visitors the same feeling that Walt experienced as a boy.

The beauty of Marceline is further enhanced by its small town friendly and casual atmosphere. Located in North Central Missouri, we’re  3 miles south of US36 and halfway between St. Joseph and Hannibal.

Marceline was founded in 1888 by the Santa Fe Railway as a division point on its Kansas City-Chicago route. The name, Marceline, came at the request of a director of the new railway whose wife had the Spanish name of “Marcelina.”  Marceline’s Santa Fe depot houses the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.

One Hundred Years of History

1901
December 5

1901

  • December 5, 1901 – Walt Disney is born in Chicago.
  • “Walt Disney remembered nothing of his early years in Chicago, but the memories of Marceline stayed with him throughout his lifetime.” – Bob Thomas
1906
April 5

1906

1906
  • Walt’s father, Elias Disney, moves his family to a farm in Marceline, Missouri.
  • Elias purchases a farm from the estate of Civil War veteran William Crane.
  • The Disney’s and their neighbors, the Taylors’, become close friends.
  • Walt receives his first payment for a drawing from Doc Sherwood.
  • Walt attends a presentation of Peter Pan, reprising the role at his elementary school with Roy manning a block and tackle so Walt could fly.
  • Time spent with Uncle Mike Martin, Santa Fe engineer, fuels Walt’s lifelong interest in the railroad.
  • Walt experiences the magic of many childhood firsts in Marceline.
1920
January 27

1920

  • Walt makes his first animated film featuring barnyard animals he knew as a boy in Marceline.
  • Traveling back and forth from LA to New York on the train Lillian Disney would say, “It got to be embarrassing, when the train would stop in Marceline Walt would go through the cars announcing, ‘That’s my hometown, that’s my hometown’”!
1938
September 2

1938

  • Walt writes to The Marceline News, “To tell the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since – or are likely to in the future.”
1946
May 1

1946

1946
  • Walt returns to Marceline to refresh his memory for a project he is planning.
1948
November 29

1948

1948
  • So Dear to My Heart is released. Calling this one of his favorite films Walt noted, “Why, that’s the life my brother and I grew up with as kids in Missouri.”
1955
July 17

1955

1955
  • Disneyland opens and Walt’s memories of Marceline inspire Main Street USA.
  • Disney’s Lady and the Tramp is released, based in the same period Walt was in Marceline.
1956
July 4

1956

1956
  • Walt and Roy Disney return to Marceline to dedicate the Walt Disney Swimming Pool and Park.
  • Walt and Roy hold the Midwest premiere of The Great Locomotive Chase at the Uptown Theatre. During remarks Walt tells the children of Marceline, “You are lucky to live in Marceline, my best memories are the years I spent here.”
  • Walt conceived the idea of purchasing his boyhood home and farm to develop a rural experience around it.
  • RETLAW begins purchasing land for the Marceline Project.
1960
October 3

1960

1960
  • Walt returns to Marceline to dedicate the Walt Disney Elementary School. At the dedication Walt states, “I’m not a funny guy, I’m just a farm boy from Marceline who hides behind a duck and a mouse.”
  • Walt donates a flag pole from the Squaw Valley Olympics, and a Disney artist decorates the interior of the school with Disney murals.
1966
July 4

1966

1966
  • Walt and Roy relocate the Midget Autopia Ride from Disneyland to Marceline. The attraction is a one-of-a-kind gift that has never been repeated by the Disney Company.
  • The Disney’s are scheduled to dedicate the ride in July. Walt cancels at the last minute for health reasons. He dies 3 months later and the Marceline Project comes to a halt.
1968
September 11

1968

1968
  • Marceline lobbies the US Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp to honor Walt Disney.
  • Marceline is chosen as the location for the issuance of the stamp.
  • The Santa Fe “Disney Special” brings the Disney family to Marceline for the event.
1980
January 1

1980’s

  • Three Japanese Disney specials are filmed in Marceline.
1998
July 14

1998

1998
  • The Disney Company hosts the premiere of The Spirit of Mickey in Marceline. Mickey, Minnie and all their Disney character friends travel to Marceline for the event, attended by 18,000 excited Disney fans.
  • Marceline announces they will honor Walt Disney in 2001 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth.
  • Walt Disney’s Hometown Toonfest is held for the first time.
2000
July 7

2000

2000
  • The Ruth Disney Beecher estate donates Disney family artifacts. Her wish was to have a museum in Marceline to tell the story of the Disney family.
  • The Walt Disney Family Foundation films in Marceline for “Walt, the Man Behind the Myth”.
2001
December 5

2001

  • Marceline hosts Walt Disney’s 100th Birthday Party.
  • BNSF Railway brings Disney family members, Missouri legislators, the Governor and his family, Mickey, Minnie and the Disneyland ambassador to Marceline on a 1950’s executive train. 13 members of the Disney family attend.
  • Walt’s barn is rebuilt on the Disney Farm during a 3 day barn-raising.
  • The Walt Disney Hometown Museum is dedicated.
2003
July 7

2003

  • Son of Dreaming Tree sapling is planted on the Disney farm by Brad Lund, one of Walt’s grandsons, and three Walt Disney World Ambassadors with soil from the hub at the Magic Kingdom and water from the Rivers of America.
2004
August 23

2004

  • Marceline’s Post Office building is renamed the Walt Disney US Post Office, the only federal building in the country named after Walt Disney.
  • Marceline Heritage Program is presented to cultural representatives from Hong Kong.
2005
October 27

2005

2005
  • To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, Marceline presents a Dreaming Tree sapling to the park.
  • 50th anniversary edition of Lady and the Tramp is released. Included in the DVD is the importance Marceline played in the inspiration for the movie.
2008
November 14

2008

  • Marceline Heritage Program is included in the Disney Company Leadership Conference.
2009
July 7

2009

  • Marceline Heritage Program is given at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
2010
July 7

2010

2010
  • New exhibits are added at the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.
  • Marceline Heritage Program is given at Disneyland.
2011
August 12

2011

  • The Walt Disney Hometown Museum and Walt’s Marceline Barn celebrate their 10th anniversary.
  • Marceline attends D23! Yippee!
2015
July 7

2015

2015
  • Total museum refresh.
  • Redesign with focus on story and guest experience.
2017
July 7

2017

2017
  • Installation of nine story stations.
  • Transitioning the museum to a fully self guided tour.
2018
July 7

2018

2018
  • D23 members return to Marceline.
  • D23 tour included a visit to the Disney farmhouse.
2019
September 14

2019

  • Return of the Midget Autopia Walking Trail in new EP Ripley Park extension.