A trip to Walt's Happy Place: Marceline, Missouri - Part 1

A trip to Marceline, Missouri last fall (September 2012). I originally wrote this trip report and posted it on www.disboards.com, but I thought it would be fun to share it here too. The trip report is broken into 4 parts:

So, I've lived in the St. Louis, Missouri area for the last 20 years and had never visited Walt's hometown, which is only about 3 hours away. We had talked about it several times, but just never got around to visiting. It had been about 2 years since we had done a proper trip to WDW, and we were hankering for something Disney related, so we said, "what the heck, let's take a day trip to Marceline next Saturday". I did a Google search and interestingly enough, their annual Toonfest was planned for that weekend. We "had" to go then. I called my parents, and told them what we were up to, and they were "in". (We've gone Walt Disney World with them more times than without them. Such great memories for our family!)

So, we met up with my parents early in the morning, all packed in a mini van and headed west from St. Louis.

It was a fairly boring and uneventful drive from St. Louis to Marceline, but we had fun chatting and there weren't too many, "are we there yets" from the kids. Everyone got excited when we had our first glimpse of the town

Pickle had to "go real bad!", so we stopped at the first gas station in town for a pit stop. You know that you are in rural Missouri when you see goats in the backs of pickup trucks!

Actually, we arrived in town around 11:30 AM, and the Toonfest parade had just ended. I guess this little guy was pulling a wagon or something. The other interesting thing is that there aren't a lot of places to eat in Marceline. Personally, I would have never considered buying pizza from a gas station, but it must have been pretty good, because there were a LOT of people coming out with slices in their hands.

Anyway, after the pit stop, we decided to visit the Walt Disney Hometown Museum before heading down to Mainstreet for the Toonfest festivities.

First, off the museum http://www.waltdisneymuseum.org is awesome. It was much better than I expected. And I kicked myself for not coming sooner. Admission was reasonable. About $5 for an adult, half that for a kid, and smaller kids 5 and under are free. The entire museum is inside Marceline's old train depot. I didn't take too many photos inside, although they permitted photos in most of the museum, with the exception of a large movie memorabilia section for the Great Locomotive Chase (which premiered in Marceline back in 1956). If you want more details on the museum, see the official link above as I'm certain that they can describe the exhibits much better than I ever could. In the meantime, here are a few highlights:

Stephanie and Me

Mickey dolls that Walt and Roy gave to their parents

Upstairs, an entire room is dedicated to an amazing

scale model of Disneyland hand made by the late Dale Varner. Really cool!

Here's one of the original Midget Autopia cars.

If you aren't familiar with the story, Walt sent the Midget Autopia cars to Marceline as a gift after he had the attraction removed from Disneyland. It ran in a park just outside of town for a few years until they fell into disrepair. Here's what it looked like when they were laying the track. (Check back later to see what it looks like today. They turned the old site into a playground many years ago.)

We spent about an hour visiting the museum, including a few minutes in the gift shop. I could have easily spent another hour or two reading the info from all the exhibits, but the kids were hungry and ready to move on to the festival. This description of the museum doesn't even begin to do the place justice. They had a ton of old family letters, photos, and artifacts. Really good stuff!

On the way out, we explored the gardens around the museum for a few more minutes and we were greeted by a BNSF train as it passed through town

Well, that's part one. In the continuing parts, I'll describe the Toonfest "festivities" (more like a fair), Main Street USA, our visit to the old Midget Autopia site (possibly my favorite part of the trip), our stop at the Walt Disney Elementary school to see the flag pole, the over to Walt's boyhood home, the Dreaming Tree (what's left of it anyway) and to Walt's Happy Place (the recreation of his barn.) Lots more pictures to come.

Part 2 - Exploring Toonfest and Mains Street USA

About The Author

Matt Bollinger