Thursday, July 23, 2015

Visiting Walt's Hometown: Marceline, Missouri

If you're a Disney fan, the name "Marceline" will sound familiar to you.  Marceline, Missouri is the boyhood home of Walt Disney - he and his family lived on a farm just outside of town for four years when Walt was growing up, from 1906 to 1909.

Walt would always remember Marceline fondly, and he later wrote that "to tell the truth more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since - or are likely to in the future.  Things I mean, like seeing my first circus parade, attending my first school, seeing my first motion picture.  I know you'll agree with me that such childhood 'firsts' as those are of utmost importance in any human being's life."

If you're a Disney fan, and you're driving through Missouri, you won't be able to pass the Marceline exit by!  My family was able to stop by Walt's hometown during a road trip this summer, and I was so excited to see the place for myself.

Walking right down the middle of Main Street USA...but not the one at the Magic Kingdom!

At first glance Marceline is like any other small Missouri town, but then you start to notice a few familiar sights...

There are mouse ears on that sign!  Marceline, Missouri and Fort Collins, Colorado are the two towns credited with inspiring the classic Main Street USA area at the Disney parks.

Walt Disney obviously loved Marceline, but I love that he didn't just see it as it was...

...he saw it like this, with a castle at the end of it.  Some imagination. :)

In Walt Disney's time there was a confectionery in Marceline, and there was a sign marking where it once stood.


Instead of an Uptown Jewelers, there's an Uptown Theatre!  This theatre no longer shows movies and actually opened after Walt left Marceline, but Walt did premiere one of his live-action movies, The Great Locomotive Chase, here in 1956.  Yesterland has a great article about the Uptown Theatre.

Sadly the main Disney attraction in town, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, had already closed for the day when we stopped in Marceline.  We parked outside briefly to check the hours and look in the garden.  The building is a restored Santa Fe depot, and a train went rushing by as we stood there.  There were train cars in the park as well.  Listening to the whistle and the clatter on the rails, it was easy to imagine a young Walt Disney eagerly watching the trains go by - easy to see where his love of trains came from!

It was a short stop, but I loved walking the streets Walt once walked as a child - where he first started dreaming.


  1. Must have been surreal, walking right down the middle of the "real" Main Street USA! A very cool stop!

  2. Glad to see that you made it to Marceline. I live in St. Louis, and it's definitely on my list to get there on a day trip sometime soon.

  3. How wonderful! I haven't been able to visit Marceline yet so all those photos are great. Thanks!

  4. I live here but it's kind of dying. More tourists like you visiting might help bring some of the businesses back, so thank you.