Disney magic arrives in Philadelphia as nostalgic new exhibition debuts

Disney100: The Exhibition makes its world premiere this week at The Franklin Institute, bringing 100 years of animation, innovation, and inspiration to Philadelphia. Across 10 unique galleries, this exhibition shines a spotlight on the company’s rich history of telling beloved stories.

Disney100: The Exhibition brings nostalgic Disney Magic to Philadelphia.

By Ricky Brigante

There’s certainly no shortage of emotion packed into the sprawling 15,000 square foot experience, filled with artwork, artifacts, and documents that mark important moments across 10 decades of Disney memories.

Disney Legend Bob Gurr joins Mickey, Minnie, Disney Archivists, and more at opening of Disney100: The Exhibition.

“The Walt Disney Archives spent years planning and curating more than 250 objects to capture the 100 years of storytelling, creativity, and unparalleled magic of The Walt Disney Company,” said Becky Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives, calling the exhibition a “once-in-a-lifetime event.”

The exhibition arrives from a collaboration between the Disney Archives, Disney’s D23 official fan club, and Semmel Exhibitions. It was officially commemorated on February 15th in a ceremony that included a performance by the Philly Pops orchestra with special appearances from Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Also in attendance was Disney Legend Bob Gurr, who worked directly with Walt Disney to design Disneyland’s original monorail (among many other Disney vehicles) as well as Disney Legend Don Hahn, best known as Producer of the Disney classics The Lion King, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Walt Disney telegram to Roy Disney.
Click image for large size to read Walt Disney’s Telegram.

The entire experience begins with a special introduction from Walt Disney himself, made just for this exhibition using AI technologies to produce “new” footage of “Walt” in what Disney calls their MagicStage technology. Its outrageously crisp, up-scaled footage is a bit unusual, especially for those who are intimately familiar with vinatge clips of Walt Disney. But his presence adds a warm beginning to the journey ahead.

Walt Disney Brought Back To Life with AI at Disney100 Exhibition #Shorts

Hahn believes the exhibition now brings a taste of visiting a Disney theme parks to Philadelphia, without ever having to step foot on an airplane, and encourages locals to become members of The Franklin to visit many times during the exhibition’s 6-month stay in the city.

Disney film props from movie throughout the years, from numerous film studios.

Among the highlights guests can look forward to seeing up-close inside are:

  • An original Luke Skywalker light saber hilt from Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.
  • Notes hand-written by Walt Disney iterating on his famous original Disneyland opening day remarks.
  • Vibrant original costumes worn in the films Enchanted, Cruella, and Black Panther.
  • A set of helmets from various Marvel superhero movies.
  • A peek behind the scenes of bare Audio-Animatronic heads from Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Hall of Presidents.
  • A massive 12-foot Nautilus submarine special effects model from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Incredible photo opportunities that really transport Philly visitors to Disney’s parks include a pair of original Disney theme park ride vehicles, one from the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the other from Peter Pan’s Flight.

Disney100: The Exhibition featuring old Disney Parks rides.

More than 300 Disney films and clips are present in the exhibition – including a glimpse at Wendy’s necklace and Captain Hook’s hook from the upcoming Disney+ original film Peter Pan & Wendy, debuting later in 2023.

2023 Disney "Peter Pan & Wendy" film props.

Disney100: The exhibition brings old props, memorabilia, and historical artifacts to The Franklin museum.

All together, the exhibition has been 4 years in planning and production and is expected to draw more than 200,000 visitors through its August 27, 2023 closing date in Philadelphia, before it moves on to a new city.

The Disney100 exhibition officially opens to the public at The Franklin Institute on Saturday, February 18, 2023. Tickets are on sale now on The Franklin’s website.


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  1. We hope that this 100years of Disney would come to Indianapolis Indiana we have a great convention center here and also the number one children’s museum here that come here from all over we had the king tuts complete exhibit here a few years back and think that the 100 Disney would do very good here we hope that they would consider that