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5 Museums Every Disney Fan Should Visit

If you’re a fan of the Walt Disney Company’s history, or even the life’s story of the man himself, here are five Disney museums you’ll want to add to your bucket list.

Museum days are a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of a Disney Parks vacation, an opportunity to spend a day immersed in quiet contemplation and education, and for Disney fans, a rare opportunity to see artifacts connected to Walt Disney himself!

Walt Disney Walking Through Sleeping Beauty Castle

Credit: Renie Bardeau

Walt Disney Family Museum, Northern California

First opened by Diane Disney Miller in 2007 to house her family’s personal collection of Disney paraphernalia, the Walt Disney Family Museum specializes in telling not just Walt’s story but that of the Disney heirs and animation history.

The Philadelphia Institute, Pennsylvania

This famous scientific research facility also serves as the home of the Ben Franklin memorial. Plus, as part of Disney’s 100 Years of Wonder Celebration, it will host the Walt Disney Archives’ Disney100: The Exhibition, a 15,000-square-foot exhibit that “invites Guests to step into their favorite stories using innovative and immersive technology throughout 10 galleries.”

Alt Text: An artist’s rendering of the gallery titled “Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks” within Disney100: The Exhibition portrays guests walking around and looking at exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays related to the Disney Parks, including full-size ride vehicles from the Matterhorn Bobsleds and Peter Pan’s Flight as well as a rendering of Main Street, U.S.A., that fills one wall.

Credit: D23

Walt Disney Hometown Museum, Missouri

If you’d like to take a trip back in time, there’s no better place to visit than the Walt Disney Hometown Museum right in the heart of Main Street, U.S.A… aka Marceline! In honor of Walt’s love of trains, the museum, which began with Ruth Disney Beecher’s personal collection of family items, resides in a former Santa Fe depot. You can also visit nearby locations important to a young Walt Disney’s childhood history.

Palm Springs Air Museum, Southern California

Even if you aren’t invested in retro aviation, Disney history fans will want to visit Walt’s custom Gulfstream plane while it’s on long-term loan from the Walt Disney Archives. Moreover, Palm Springs remains a special place to Walt, who visited often and where Disney will open it’s future residential community, Cotino.

Credit: D23

Walt’s Birthplace, Illinois

If you’d like to go back to the beginning, you will soon be able to do so at the Walt Disney Birthplace. The restoration project team is currently working to return the Chicago family home to its original form, designed by Elias and Flora Disney. What’s more, it will house an early childhood education center, and donors can even get their names on a plaque or paver stone on the property.

BONUS: Walt’s Carolwood Barn

Remember how we said Walt Disney loves trains? Well, he loved them so much so that he even had his own barn for them, a Griffith Park structure that volunteers lovingly restored, filled with Walt’s railroad memorabilia, and now operate “on behalf of the Walt Disney Family Foundation.” While you’re nearby, you can even visit the iconic Griffith Park carousel which “inspired” Disneyland and dine at Walt’s table in the Tam ‘O Shanter.

Walt Disney working on his Carolwood Pacific backyard railroad. | Walt disney pictures, Walt disney history, Disney pictures

Credit: Disney

Which historic Disney museum will you visit first?

About Spencer Beck

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the halls of the Walt Disney Family Museum, and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @pinknpurble everywhere.