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Walking in Walt’s Footsteps: Marceline Edition Part 1

My husband and I recently had the chance to spend a weekend in Kansas City, Missouri without our kids. Our primary reason was to attend a Billy Joel concert, but since we had a little time to kill before heading home, we decided to visit a couple of landmarks important to the history of the Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney himself.

After visiting the original location of Walt’s Laugh-O-Gram Studio, we headed for home. Conveniently, our drive back to Illinois took us right past Marceline, where Walt lived for four years as a young boy. We have wanted to take a family trip to Marceline for a few years, but just haven’t found the time. Marceline is only about 2 ½ hours from our house, but it’s in the middle of nowhere, and not in the direction that we normally go to get anywhere. So, when we were driving to Kansas City and I noticed a sign for Marceline, we made sure that we took some time on the way home to drive into town and take a look around.


It is often said that Walt drew upon his time in Marceline for the inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. We visited Marceline late on a Saturday afternoon. The town had pretty much shut down for the night, so we pulled over on Main Street and walked around town.

Main Stree USA

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect in Marceline. Would everything be “Disney-fied” or would it just look like my hometown? The answer is: a little of both. If you were to drive through Marceline without really paying attention, you could easily miss the Disney touches and just take the town for a regular Midwestern small town. But, if you took the time to look, you noticed the small hints of Disney that lay around every corner. Posted on the side of a building just off Main Street, was this small sign:

Main Stree USA

A shop on Main Street bore the name of the large merchandise location on Main Street, U.S.A.:

emporium At the local ice cream shop (the only store that was still open), you could get “Mickey ears” added to your ice cream:

ice cream


The Uptown Theatre was the site for the Midwest premiere of The Great Locomotive Chase in 1956. Walt even came to town for the screening!

Uptown Theatre

Uptown Theatre

The Spirit of Mickey

After exploring Main Street, we headed to Walt’s Dreaming Tree and Barn.  Stay tuned ’til next time for the full report and photos of our visit!

Leah grew up in a little farming town in Illinois, right on the Mississippi River. Her Chicago-born husband, David, left the city for her, and they're now raising their three children (Jacob, Jonah and Lydia) just 12 miles from her hometown. As the Senior Editor of the DIS (wdwinfo.com), Leah spends a lot of time writing about, reading about, and discussing Disney. So, it should come as no surprise that one of her family's favorite ways to spend time is going to Walt Disney World and traveling on Disney Cruise Line. She also enjoys shopping, watching movies with her husband and doing crafts with and for her kids.


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