Dorri Partain 
Assistant Editor 

After boarding a train and leaving Kansas City for new opportunities in Los Angeles 100 years ago, Walt Disney returns home in a new exhibit now open at Union Station.

Disney 100: The Exhibition showcases over 250 items selected from the Walt Disney Archives; storyboards, sketches, costumes and props, dramatically displayed and explained.

The exhibit’s entrance details the connection between the Disney family and Kansas City, and shows local items related to Disney from the archives of Hallmark Cards, the Kansas City Public Library, and early Mickey Mouse toys from the National Toy & Miniature Museum.

Walt Disney (1901-1966) lived in Kansas City from 1909 to 1917, when he went to Europe for the war effort. He returned to Kansas City in 1919 and began working in animation, also becoming acquainted with his future collaborator, Ub Iwerks. Records show that Iwerks once attended Northeast High School. In 1922, they created Laugh-O-grams Films but the studio went bankrupt a year later. Disney left for California and Iwerks joined him there to assist with Disney’s first character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

The main exhibit chronicles the next 100 years, and the progress of animation, the development of characters old and new, and Disney’s  basis of creating entertainment that stands the test of time. Visitors will be amazed at an up and close and personal interaction of an animatronic Grogu (Baby Yoda) that drifts off to sleep and wakes suddenly, as if to wonder, “Did I miss anything?”

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing-that it was all started by a mouse”- Walt Disney. Mickey and Minnie have been popular dolls since the 1930’s. | Photo by Dorri Partain

Youngsters will love posing with Goofy, “riding” in a Disneyland teacup, or playing snippets of their favorite Disney movies songs on a touch screen. Star Wars and Marvel Comic fans will enjoy viewing props like BB-8 and Thor’s helmet. History and animation fans will enjoy snippets of classic cartoons and the sketches used to create them. Mickey Mouse Club members will get nostalgic viewing Mouseketeer hats and the Mousegetar on display.

Each of the galleries showcases an element of the Disney entertainment empire, from storytelling to innovation, that makes make-believe believable. The exhibit highlights the vision of Walt Disney as the studio expands from creating the first sound and color cartoons, to full length features, theme parks, television programming and more. As visitors exit the final gallery, a light table lets young animators “sketch” their favorite Disney characters to take home. A fully-stocked gift shop lets Disney collectors shop for special mementos from mugs to tees, and of course, stuffed Disney toys.

Disney 100: The Exhibition is located in the Bank of America Gallery at Union Station, and open daily now through November 30. Limited tickets are available at the Union Station box office or in advance online at

The Union Station website also has information about the Disney 100 Speaker Series, presented by UMKC and the Missouri Humanities Council.