If you’ve ever thought that visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was not enough reason for your family to venture to Simi Valley, California (it is!) along came the Disney exhibit to help you decide to go. The D23 Treasures from the Walt Disney Archives provides Disney fans a rare and fascinating insight into how the company evolved into the international empire it is today. Displaying over 500 selected items; the exhibit takes the visitor on a visual journey of discovery-from the early years through the development of theme parks and live action movies to the renaissance of animation in the 1990s.
The layout of the exhibit can be slightly confusing so you might want to refer to the paper handout they give you at the entrance. You are supposed to turn right at the entrance on the upper floor; continue to the lower floor walking in an anticlockwise direction and then return to the top to see the other side on the way out. However, you can also do the entire thing in reverse (like my autistic son who ran off to see the original movie posters first) and still enjoy yourself.
Showcasing the less known marketing aspect
Among the plethora of rare collectibles, we were surprised to see several licensed Disney items like notepads watches, and toys sold as early as 1930. The exhibit showcases Disney’s concept of marketing department that started shortly after the company’s launch and has at times managed to rival its creative section in growth and development throughout its decades of existence.
The detailed recreation of Walt Disney’s formal office at the Disney Studios in Burbank with the portraits of his two daughters adorning the walls, his library books (in the order they were placed) and the piano Richard Sherman used to play the Mary Poppins tunes on, is impressive. However, what made the exhibit come alive for my autistic son was the knowledgeable and incredibly friendly docent who took time to explain the different artifacts and answer his questions.
Amidst the section called ‘ A Bold Entry to Live Action Movies dedicated to the studio’s movies; the curator provides a touching tribute to the late popular musketeer Annette Fumicello -the 1960’s babes in Toyland original poster alongside the red cape-like costume she wore in the movie.
Costumes and Props Magic
The lower level celebrates the Disney studios live action mega hits with costumes, and furniture props from movies like ‘101 Dalmatians, ‘Enchanted’ and Tim Burton’s ‘Wonderland’ movies. However, it was the futuristic motorcycles and racing car from sets of Ironman and Captain America that grabbed my son’s attention.
The Pirates of the Caribbean section complete with the outlandish costumes worn by Johnny Depp in the different movies, ‘torture chair’ from the second movie and a twenty -six foot long ‘Black Pearl’ ship replica alone is well worth the price of admission.
Why you should go
D23’s ‘Treasure of the Walt Disney Archives’ exhibit is a must see for all Disney fans as well as anyone interested in cinematic and entertainment history.It is highly
recommended as it provides a tantalizing sampler of what one can expect if and when a Disney Museum would ever open in the L.A area.
Autism travel tips
You might want to purchase the Exhibit book from the gift shop before you enter in order to help you understand the displays better. We found the Reagan Library‘s, I-pod rental program($7) a great idea to get kids interested in listening to the guided tour and photographing the different artifacts.