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Walt Disney’s plane will be on display in Palm Springs

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

After its debut at D23 Expo 2022 in Anaheim, Calif., Walt Disney’s newly-restored plane – known as “The Mouse” – will be part of a new exhibit at the Palm Springs Air Museum opening on Walt Disney’s birthday, Dec. 5, 2022.

Walt Disney's plane
Images courtesy of D23

After its debut at D23 Expo 2022 in Anaheim, Calif., Walt Disney’s Grumman Gulfstream I plane – known as “The Mouse” – will be part of a new exhibit at the Palm Springs Air Museum opening on Walt Disney’s birthday, Dec. 5, 2022.

Walt Disney's plane

The new exhibit in Palm Springs, Calif., will trace the history of “The Mouse” – on long-term loan from Walt Disney Archives – and showcase its significance to The Walt Disney Company and its relevance to the Palm Springs area.

“We are so happy to have Walt’s plane make a ‘landing’ at the Palm Springs Air Museum, just a few miles from where Walt and his family had vacation homes at Smoke Tree Ranch,” said Walt Disney Archives Director Rebecca Cline. “It is the ideal setting for this incredible icon.”

The newly-repainted plane will be displayed with several rarely-exhibited items from the interior, including a customized instrument panel originally located near Walt’s favorite seat that allowed him to monitor flight conditions, a telephone handset that gave Walt a direct line of communication to the pilot, and a flight bag featuring an image of Mickey sitting on the plane’s tail.

Walt Disney's plane - seat
Walt Disney's plane - flight bag

Walt acquired the iconic 15-passenger Gulfstream in 1963, with the interior designed by Walt and his wife Lillian that included a galley kitchen, two restrooms, two couches, a desk, and nods to “the mouse who started it all,” most notably the 1967 addition of Mickey’s initials added to the plane’s tail number – N234MM.

Walt Disney's plane infographic

Guests visiting the Palm Spring Air Museum will learn about the role Walt Disney’s plane plane played during its 28 years of service, including:

  • In 1963, Walt and company executives took off on a demonstration Gulfstream aircraft to explore potential locations, including Central Florida, for a proposed development often referred to as “Project X.”
  • Walt’s plane flew 277,282 miles between Burbank and New York for the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, which resulted in several iconic Disneyland attractions, including  “it’s a small world.”
  • Walt found inspiration for the look of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as he flew over the El Moro fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • “The Mouse” appeared in The Walt Disney Studios films “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” (1969) and “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t” (1972), both starring Disney Legend Kurt Russell.
  • The aircraft’s notable passengers include Disney Legends Julie Andrews and Annette Funicello, and former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

The recent appearance at D23 Expo in California marked the first time the Walt Disney’s plane had been on the West Coast since Oct. 8, 1992, when it landed at Walt Disney World’s Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and was part of the Studio Backlot Tour until 2014.

The Palm Springs Air Museum collection includes over 75 vintage airframes from the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, across the spectrum of Military Aviation and significant civilian aircraft, including Clay Lacey’s Lear 24. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Click here for more information.

Check out our video from D23 Expo:


Walt Disney's Plane – The Mouse, Restored and On Display at Disney D23 Expo 2022
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