Project: Marceline… the hometown of Walt Disney is the destination for this bit of Disney Archaeology
What was the Marceline Project? The answer is that it was going to be a general living history farm in Marceline, where it all began for Walt Disney.
This project had much more traction that people might think and much of it is now lost in history. But with a little bit of digging you will find that the Missouri Highway Commission had become involved and plans were being made to expand the highway and prepare for the crowds that would eventually be coming to Walt’s latest project.
Most people are familiar with the stories of when changes were being made at Disneyland, Walt donated the Disneyland Midget Autopia attraction to Marceline in 1966 and the official dedication was scheduled for July Fourth. With the help of Admiral Joe Fowler overseeing the installation and training, it ran for eleven years. It remains the only Disney ride ever to be relocated and operated.
Days before the ceremony, Walt cancelled attending saying that he had a cough he just couldn’t shake. Of course, history tells us that Walt’s health was diminishing at the time, but the Autopia attraction was to help create excitement for Walt’s Project Marceline. When Walt passed away Retlaw Enterprises had already purchased roughly 250-300 acres with options on up to 500 more acres.
This was a project that was moving forward. On the desk of Walt’s office was a constantly opened map of Marceline and a drawing that Walt had done about what the project would look like and where things would be located. That is pictured in this post.
History reminds us of the disarray the company faced after Walt’s death and this project was abandoned forever after Roy Disney passed away. But people do think about what could have been – Walt wanted to have a working 1900s farm to show people, to get them involved in it, to learn respect for animals and nature. It would have re-created his childhood with the same technology, animals and other elements. The land had been purchased. The feasibility studies had been done. The governor of Missouri was going to put a four-lane highway in to Marceline. And then Walt passed away.
After Walt was gone, the sketch of the project was picked up by Roy off Walt’s desk and given to a friend in Marceline. This sketch which was removed from the office is now on display of the wall of the Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline. As a sidenote – the Disney Archives had no idea the drawing even existed until it was put on display.
It goes down in history as one of the many dreams of Disney that were never built. But as you can see from the sketch, Walt could see it, he had a plan, and he knew it would work.
How do you see your life? Do you have a plan? More importantly, do you have a plan that works? All of us need a WHY – a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to do what we do, a reason to strive to make each day better. I am hoping your WHY has everything to do with making the world a better place – sharing kindness and joy with others – and making the life experience of others better.
The sketch reminds us that even to the end of his life, that is what Walt was planning…find your very own WHY and touch and change the world.