Storytelling brings rare Disney artifacts to life at the Disney100 Exhibit

On February 18, 2023 the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will unveil a monumental exhibition celebrating 100 years of the Walt Disney Company. Attractions Magazine was invited to preview a selection of artifacts from the upcoming exhibit and learn a little more about the galleries guests can enjoy when it opens next year. 

disney100 exhibition

By Rebecca W. Davis

The Franklin Institute and the Walt Disney Company

The event opened with remarks from Franklin Institute President Larry Dubinsky. He shared some of the connections between the Franklin Institute and The Walt Disney Company. 

He recounted how Disney provided cartoon images for the first planetarium show at the institute and showed images of a 1964 World’s Fair “it’s a small world” record that can be found in the institute’s curatorial collection. Further, The Franklin Institute served as a central filming location for the 2004 Disney-produced film, “National Treasure.” 


Later, Becky Cline, the director of the Walt Disney Archives, offered a sneak peek at the different galleries that make up Disney100 before unveiling five of the 250 artifacts that will be on display. She hardly held back her contagious excitement as she described what we can expect to see in February.

Here are the six galleries that will make up the Disney100 exhibit:

Where it all Began

disney100 where it all began gallery

This gallery introduces a brief history of the Walt Disney Company’s founding, philosophy, and early projects. Guests will learn more about Walt Disney’s story leading up to Mickey Mouse’s 1928 debut in “Steamboat Willie” and the company’s animation breakthroughs of the early 1930s.

Where Do the Stories Come From?

disney100 where do stories come from

This gallery is dedicated to the art of storytelling, illustrating how Disney storytellers bring characters to life. Guests can explore the sources of inspiration through art and artifacts from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Frozen,” and “The Princess and the Frog.”

Sources of Inspiration

disney100 sources of inspiration

This immersive and interactive installation explores literary influences behind favorite stories.  See how Disney storytellers are inspired by classic fairy tales, legends, and original creations.

Spirit of Adventure and Discovery

disney100 spirit of adventure and discovery

Curious kids can embark on a quest to uncover hidden artifacts from favorite Disney, Marvel, and “Star Wars” films while exploring the jungle, ocean, and outer reaches of the galaxy. Ms. Cline described an interactive activity where children can make a special Disney treasure appear.

The Nautilus Window

the nautilus window

In this gallery, guests will be able to peer into the underwater worlds of Disney and Pixar through an interactive window of Captain Nemo’s legendary submarine– as seen in “20,000 leagues Under the Sea”(1954).

Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks 

disney100 your day in the park

In this exhibit, guests can step into a recreation of Main Street, U.S.A. to explore the legacy and development of Disney parks and attractions. It will turn periodically from day to night so guests can experience the park at both times of the day.

Cline shared the original soundtrack for the exhibit, which, as she put it, is “so Disney!” You can view the trailer for the exhibit and hear the original song from composer Steve Mazzaro. Mazzaro’s work can be heard on Disney soundtracks such as “The Lion King” (2019) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” (2017). 

Then, at long last, Ms. Cline unveiled the artifacts that had been sitting, covered, at the front of the room, and told us more about each one. Props from the parks, film productions, and beyond will tell the story of the first 100 years of the company. 


Disneyland Employee Badge #1 (1955)

At the beginning, Disneyland cast members wore numbered badges. Walt’s badge was numbered with a one and cast in gold. 

walt disney nametag

Steamboat Whistle in “Steamboat Willie” (1928)

“Steamboat Willie” was the first picture and sound cartoon. One of the sounds audiences heard was the now-iconic whistle. Here, we have the exact whistle that was used to make the sound effect.

Prop Storybook featured in“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)

This ornately carved book served as the real-life prop you see opening at the beginning of the 1937 animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Skywalker Lightsaber Hilt from “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker”(2019)

This lightsaber hilt prop was used by Daisy Ridley in the 2019 film “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

Magic Ring from “The Shaggy Dog” (1955)

Finally, we saw the magic ring from the 1959 film “The Shaggy Dog” that was used by actor Tommy Kirk. The Latin engraving on the back, when read aloud, turns an unsuspecting teenager into a sheepdog.

Shaggy Dog ring

Those were just five of the 250 artifacts that will be on display come February. We will be back to see the rest and experience these amazing galleries!

For more details on the Disney100 Exhibit and for tickets, visit


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