The magic of Disney has been captivating audiences all over the world for a century. The new Disney 100 exhibition in London celebrates the wonder of it all.
Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Toy Story and The Little Mermaid; the Walt Disney Company has been creating wonderful characters and movies for over 100 years. For their centennial celebration, this exhibition – at London’s ExCel – takes visitors behind the scenes with a fascinating display of memorabilia, artefacts and interactive installations bringing the joy of it all to life. Citizen Enfants visited to experience the magic first hand.
What is The Disney 100 Exhibition
This exciting new exhibition is a celebration of the magic that is Disney. The largest ever display of the Walt Disney Archives, it marks The Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary this year. Spread over 20,000-square-foot of space in London’s ExCel, it is packed with ten imaginative galleries, allowing visitors of all generations to immerse themselves in the wonder of Disney. Visit to discover some of the most popular movies ever made, and to rediscover your favourite Disney tales and characters. On this nostalgic journey you’ll find moving stories, historical artefacts, original costumes and unique, interactive installations that will transport you to the fantasy world of the famous filmmaker.
When you arrive you’ll be guided into Gallery One, which takes you back to where it all began with the earliest drawings of initial characters – which of course include Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and more. From here you move through the large exhibition learning about Disney’s history while taking in rare, original cartoon drawings and props created for the films. You’ll also learn how the plots evolved and how soundtracks were composed. Start with a timeline of all the movies, from the early days of Fantasia and Snow White, through to 80s hits such as 101 Dalmatians and The Fox and the Hound, before moving on to the likes of the Toy Story series and A Bug’s Life, and ending at the most recent box office hits such as Frozen and Moana. It’s a great reminder of the sheer number of films the company have produced – as well as the influence they’ve had on popular culture. In Gallery Three, ‘The Illusion of Life’, you’ll see stunning original costumes and a very large Olaf from Frozen, while in Gallery Five, ‘The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery’, you’ll find props from movies like Star Wars as well as Pixar and Marvel films, who have more recently become part of the Disney fold. There are interactive games throughout, such as a table with a large touch screen and dials that you turn to choose a character, uncovering facts about their creation and movies.
Who is The Disney 100 Exhibition for?
This extensive and creative display truly is for all ages. Very little ones can spectate from their buggies as it’s very welcoming of all children. Older children can roam free, exploring all the graphics and interactive elements; for example, they can measure themselves against The Incredibles characters on a fun height chart, turn the giant on-screen pages of story books, or pose for pictures with Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Adults can take time to read the marvellous historical accounts dotted throughout – from early telegrams from Walt to the studios, to the original drawings and plans for the first Disney Land theme park in California. It’s a somewhat emotional trip down memory lane for grown-ups; you’ll reminisce about the films you loved as a child, as well as those you’ve watched with your own kids, highlighting the huge role Disney has played in the lives of so many people worldwide and for generations.
Think of a Disney film and, more often than not, it’s the music that will pop into your head: from The Lion Kings’ Circle of Life and Aladdin’s A Whole New World to classics such as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and You Got a Friend In Me. All of these fabulous songs are available to listen to on a large jukebox-style wall that lets you select the film and hear its famous soundtrack. Lots of the Disney tunes have been translated for audiences all over the world so, for example, it’s possible to hear Frozen’s famous Let it Go in several different languages. There are countless opportunities to marvel at posters, costumes and memorabilia from the hundreds of films and, as you reach the end of your tour, you’ll enter a space filled with screens from many different angles as they play a montage of moments from all of the classic films – and some new ones too. It’s worth taking a few moments to stop and really take in the spectacle flashing before your eyes.
What You Need To Know
The whole exhibition is indoors so there is no need to wear anything warm – though the walk from ExCel’s onsite car park could be a bit chilly as it briefly takes you outside next to the Thames. Comfortable shoes are definitely a good idea, for big and little feet. There are no toilets inside the exhibition hall itself; you can pop into the wider ExCel at any time, but it might be worth taking children to the bathrooms before you enter. No food or drinks are available to purchase inside the exhibition either, but there are cafés just outside the hall in the ExCel building. At the end of the exhibition there are tables with colouring sheets and pens where children can colour in some well-known characters. Finally there is a gift shop to pick up some little (or large) mementos of your day. A specially-created book, The Story Of Disney: 100 Years Of Wonder, chronicling the exhibition is a great buy.
Where is it?
The Disney 100 Exhibition is at ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 1XL.
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