Why you need to visit the Disney100: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute
After years of planning and preparation, the time has finally arrived for Disney100: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute.
Disney100: The Exhibition, created for the 100-year celebration of The Walt Disney Company, makes its world debut at The Franklin Institute on Saturday, February 18, 2023. Today, members of the media and D23: The Official Disney Fan Club were the first to experience the groundbreaking exhibition during an exclusive preview and ribbon cutting.
Franklin Institute President and CEO Larry Dubinski, joined by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, welcomed Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline, Head of the Walt Disney Archives and D23 Michael Vargo, and Executive Producer/Director of Semmel Exhibitions Christoph Scholz, for a ceremonial ribbon cutting. The Philly POPS performed a musical ensemble of Disney classics. Also attending the celebration were Disney Legends Don Hahn and Bob Gurr.
We sat down with Bob Gurr and asked him what contribution or the ride vehicle is he most proud of during his time at the Walt Disney Imagineering. Bob said, “Would you believe the little Disney land fire agent? Yes, I’ll tell you why. Ward Kimball was one of Walt’s nine old men, animator, good friend of mine, before I went to Disney, he had me drive his 1960 and American LaFrance fire injure and the parade. I was like 20 years old. If you drive a fire engine, you always want one and you know you’ll never have one.”
One day in 1958 Walt was in my office and I was kind of a dead moment. I said, Walt, we don’t have a fire engine on Main Street. (Walt said) No Bobby we don’t. The accounting department phones up and says, here’s the account number for the new Fire Engine project. We designed it, built it, and I even drove it down the freeway and delivered it in 1958 to Disneyland. If you know your history, you’ll see that Walt drove that fire engine a lot. He did his last photograph in his park before he passed away, was in the fire engine with Mickey Mouse, that’s why.”
In all your time with Disney Imagineering, is there a memory of Walt Disney that sticks in your mind? Bob Gurr paused for a second and then recounted, “I couldn’t point out a singular one there were so many, working with Walt for 12 years. But, whenever he had something a new attraction, the day that was media day, the look on his face, and that, that eyebrow would go up? And it’s like, I have something nobody else has, in his mind and my Imagineers did it. Just the look on his face for a couple of seconds. That would do it.”
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Memories and moments like this are why Dinsey100: The Exhibition is so special. It captures the story and narrative of 100 years of innovation, but there is so much more than artifacts. You can find something special in each of the 10 immersive galleries.
Franklin Institute President and CEO, Larry Dubinsky says that Disney100: The Exhibition is “…the first opportunity to see the crown jewels come to life in beautifully crafted galleries reflecting Disney’s imaginative storytelling, innovation, discovery, and wonder.” We couldn’t summarize the experience any better. The artifacts come to life in a way that tells a beautiful story of the beloved Walt Disney Company.
“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. “We cannot wait for fans and families to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event celebrating the iconic characters and stories that have captured the hearts of audiences around the globe.”
Immersed within the galleries are more than 250 of Disney’s “Crown Jewels,” original artworks, artifacts, costumes, props, and other memorabilia—many rarely seen—including the earliest sketches of Mickey Mouse and animation drawings from his debut in Steamboat Willie (1928), the Spell Book from Hocus Pocus (1993), Cinderella Castle model for Magic Kingdom® Park, a Genie maquette from Aladdin (1992), and the Black Panther costume from the 2018 film.
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Welcoming guests into the exhibit is the Disney MagicStage, where a vision of Walt Disney himself stands life-sized and shares an inspiring message about innovation. Partnering with Disney StudioLAB, DisneyResearch|Studios, and Industrial Light & Magic, the team utilized cutting-edge technology to digitally bring Walt to life and create this unique greeting.
Tapping the vast resources of the Walt Disney Archives, two separate audio recordings of Walt were assembled, creating his vocal script. The Disney Archives also provided footage of 1960s-era Walt to DisneyResearch|Studios, who used their super-resolution A.I. upscaler to convert the archival footage to high definition. The result was an authentic recreation of Walt Disney and a collaboration across all parts of The Walt Disney Company. As he famously said, “We’re always exploring and experimenting.”
Disney100: The Exhibition Fast Facts By the Numbers
*4 years of planning and production
*Footage and photography from all 12 Disney Parks worldwide
*25 maquettes of iconic Disney characters
*31 languages represented in international music reels
*93 Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm memorable scenes during the Into the Wonder prologue
*250+ artifacts, artworks, and documents
*318 Disney films and clips on 4 dozen monitors, projections, and media
*15,000-square-foot exhibition space
*Largest item: Peter Pan’s Flight attraction ride vehicle at more than 7 feet long and 7 feet tall
*Smallest item: Han Solo’s dice from Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), used by Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher at ~1.5 cubic centimeters (chain excluded)
*Heaviest item: Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction ride vehicle at over 1,500 pounds
*Longest Item: Nautilus special effects filming model from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) at approximately 12 feet long
*Oldest item: Zoetrope from the offices of Walt Disney (c. 1860)
*Newest item: Wendy’s necklace and Captain Hook’s hook from Peter Pan & Wendy (2023)
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Disney100: The Exhibition is created and curated by the Walt Disney Archives and Semmel Exhibitions. The Franklin Institute is proud to present and play host to the world premiere of Disney100: The Exhibition through August 27, 2023, in the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion and the Mandell Center. PECO, the Premier Corporate Partner of The Franklin Institute, is the Local Presenting Sponsor of the exhibition, and PNC is the Associate Sponsor. Tickets are timed and dated, and advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. For information on purchasing tickets, please visit www.fi.edu.
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