Sneak peek inside 'Disney100: The Exhibition' opening in Chicago Saturday

Exhibit will featured items from Disney movies like 'The Little Mermaid'

ByJessica D'Onofrio, Christian Piekos WLS logo
Thursday, November 16, 2023
Disney100: The Exhibition
Disney100: The Exhibition

CHICAGO -- The heart and soul of the creativity and innovation of the Walt Disney Company is on display starting this weekend on Chicago's Northwest Side. Take a peek inside the magic that continues to leave us all inspired.

Behind every corner in the sprawling and breathtaking 35,000 square foot exhibit is a piece of living Disney history.

It's called to Disney 100: the Exhibition.

"You're instantly transported and one thing I like to tell people about the Walt Disney archives -we're the keeper of your childhood memories," said Matthew Adams, manager of exhibitions for the Walt Disney Archives.

Located inside the Exhibition Hub Art Center in Bucktown, formerly known as the Windy City Fieldhouse, a treasure trove of 250 Disney artifacts past and present.

From one of the earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse himself to a stormtrooper from Star Wars, even a costume worn in Pirates of the Caribbean, there is something here for Disney lovers of all ages.

"Being able to see a lot of these little bits of movie magic up close is a real special treat," said Kelvin Kern, Walt Disney regional archives manager said. "And even for us as archivists when we get to see them and handle them it's one of the most special things of my job."

The exhibition opens this Saturday on a very special day in Disney history. It's Mickey and Minnie Mouse's birthday.

Along with all of the props and costumes and drawings, those visiting will be immersed in spectacular interactive experiences, bringing them into the Disney magic.

"Where would we walk, where would we run if we could stay all day in the sun," sings Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

Benson participated in a ribbon cutting on Thursday.

"I've been part of the Disney family for 37 years and I absolutely love the people I work with," said Benson. "My hope would be they learn a little more about Walt and learn more about the company and to see this growth of our legacy."

Of course the exhibit honors the man who brought this dream to life Walt Disney.

Disney was born in Chicago's Hermosa's neighborhood, not far from the exhibit.

The exhibition is a powerful and moving tribute to Walt himself.

"It is a celebration and since we're at 100 years we really wanted to create a love letter to fans and that's exactly what this exhibition is 149," said Adams.

While this museum is a look back on Disney history, it's also a look ahead.

"The story is not over there's so much more to come in the future, so that's what we hope you walk away from the experience with," Kern said.

Visitors can explore seldom viewed works of art including visual development drawings for "Sleeping Beauty" (1959), created by artist and Disney Legend Marc Davis.

There will also be a very special piece of art from "Mary Poppins" (1964), which can also be seen in the opening titles of "Mary Poppins Returns" (2018), created by artist and Disney Legend Peter Ellenshaw will also be on display.

Also included in the experience are some of the iconic props from various films such as the Mad Hatter's teapot from "Alice in Wonderland" (2010); the poisoned caramel apple from "Enchanted" (2007) used by Timothy Spall and Amy Adams; and the dinglehopper from "The Little Mermaid" (2023) used by Halle Bailey.

The city of Chicago plays an important role in the Disney story: Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago's Hermosa neighborhood. He purchased his first motion picture camera in Chicago; attended McKinley High School, where he divided his attention between drawing and photography; and attended night classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Chicago provided inspiration for the project that eventually became known as Disneyland Park, by way of the Chicago Railroad Fair.

The exhibit is scheduled to be open throughout the holiday season and into 2024.

The Exhibition Hub Art Center is located at 2367 W. Logan Blvd.

The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of this ABC station.