Did you know that you can visit each childhood home where Walt Disney spent his early years? While Marceline, Missouri receives a lot of fame for inspiring Main Street, U.S.A. at Disney Parks, it’s not the only town where a young Walt Disney grew up.
Before he made his start in Southern California during the 1920s, Walt lived in many places on the other side of the country, specifically in the MidWest. Here’s how to visit each one to learn more about Disney’s earliest history!
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Walt Disney Birthplace
The life of Walt Disney began in this structure, built and designed by Elias and Flora Disney for just $800. The family lived in this Chicago suburb until Walt was four years old and they relocated to the small town that would change his life. Devoted fans have formed a non-profit to restore the house to its original glory, and begin operation as a center for early childhood education and creativity within the city!
Disney Family Farm
The Disneys moved from the modern progress of Chicago to the Crane Farm, a homestead without any electricity or running water for many of young Walt’s formative years. After moving to Los Angeles, Walt Disney returned to his childhood haven and orchestrated the purchase of his family’s former home by a local resident, Rush Johnson.
Note: Rush and his wife Inez passed the house down to their daughter Kaye, who now runs the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. While the house is a private residence, the original barn is open to Guests year-round, where many fans leave their signature or a note to Walt!
Walt’s First “Studio”
After Walt’s father fell ill, the family sold their farm and moved to Kansas City. Sadly, the location at 2706 East 31st Street was later demolished, but Disney fans can still stop outside their second home on Bellefontaine Avenue with the cinder block garage where Walt set up a makeshift studio to produce “inkies,” small hand-drawn cartoons.
Following his return from military service, a young Walt was determined to become a cartoonist. When his job laid him off, he and a coworker, Ub Iwerks, would join together to form their own commercial art agency, and later animation studio, Laugh-O-Gram Films. Setting up shop in the McConahay Building, Disney would struggle, at one point even moving into one of the office rooms for lack of rent money at his boarding house. Later, the story of his mice companions would inspire the character of Mickey Mouse!
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Then, in 1923, Walt would finally cut his losses and decide to head for Los Angeles with only his work in a cardboard suitcase and a dream of making art, spawning a whole new history at locations across the city as his empire rose up around him.
Will you visit them all?