Tag Archives: Walt Disney

Destination: Magical Marceline, Missouri

by Rhonda Moffit, Moffits-Mad Hatter Adventures    July 8, 2018

Driving in to Marceline, Missouri.  – Image ©Moffits: Mad Hatter Adventures 2018

We recently had the honor of visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum and other locations in Marceline, Missouri. The community of Marceline has around 2,500 people and is located a few hours northwest of St. Louis. The Disney farm is where Walt, Roy, and Ruth Disney lived with their parents Elias and Flora. Elias purchased the farm from the estate of Civil War Veteran William Crane and moved the family there in 1905. There were also two older brothers, Herbert and Raymond, (who did not want to adjust to farm life) who crept out the window in the middle of the night to travel back to Chicago, where the family had been living prior to moving to Marceline.

Walt received his first payment for a drawing while in Marceline from a local resident, Doc Sherwood. In addition to that, Walt was in a presentation of Peter Pan during elementary school, and Roy manned a block and tackle so that Walt could “fly”. Walt spent time with his uncle, Mike Martin, who was an engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad. Uncle Mike would stop the train about a mile outside of town and blow a secret whistle so that Walt would hear it and run to greet him. He would hop aboard and ride the last mile into town. This fueled his lifelong interest in the railroad.

Martin and Rhonda at Walt Disney Municipal Park, 2018. Image ©Moffits: Mad Hatter Adventures.

The Walt Disney Municipal Park is located south of town and is beautiful to see. We headed there before any other location. There is a lake there and also the original site of the Midget Autopia that Walt Disney donated to Marceline when the attraction was dismantled at Disneyland.

The lake at the Walt Disney Municipal Park.  Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018


The original site of the only Disneyland ride to be operated outside of a Disney park- Midget Autopia. The town operated the ride from 1966 until rising insurance costs and a lack of replacement parts forced it’s closure in 1977.

We took our time and drove around town to see Walt’s inspiration for Main Street, USA, in detail. Walt’s boyhood recollections of Marceline influenced films such as “So Dear to My Heart” and “Lady and the Tramp”. It is easy to understand how when you spend time in this peaceful small town. Walt’s first animated film featured barnyard animals he knew as a boy in Marceline.


At last it was time for us to visit the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, where we happened to run into one of the few people still living that was friends with Walt, Roy, and Ruth Disney- Inez Johnson. Inez and her late husband Rush had quite a task set before them in 1955 when Walt Disney asked them to purchase the family farm for him under the name of the company, “RETLAW”. They did so, being locals and avoiding any suspicion. Not long after, Walt and Roy made the train ride back to Marceline to attend the dedication of the Walt Disney swimming pool and park. The town was abuzz with the plans for the dedication, and it was suggested that Walt and Lillian Disney should stay with the Johnson’s because they were among the first in town to have air conditioning in their home.

Inez laughed as she told us that she had looked at her furniture when it was decided that Walt would stay with them and shook her head- it was not up to her standards for someone of that importance. She had a friend who had just bought new furniture, so they worked together to move the Johnson furniture out of the house and borrowed the new furniture for the Disney visit. When Walt and Lillian arrived, they put all fears to rest. Inez said that he was a regular person, approachable and kind, not at all snooty or snobbish. In fact, Walt asked Inez and Rush’s daughter where he should sleep. She answered to him that the “pink” room (her room) was the best room in the house. Walt smiled at her and said that they would be fine sleeping in the pink room, and so they did. That young lady is now the owner and resident in the Disney family farmhouse.

Rhonda and Inez Johnson, Disney family friend and Walt Disney Hometown Museum volunteer. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.

Inez was an absolute delight. She is the person you will see as you watch all of the videos within the museum and we were fortunate to spend an afternoon with her. She took us around, just the two of us, and showed us highlights of the artifacts that were left to the museum by Ruth Disney, Walt’s youngest sibling. After that initial visit for the pool dedication, Walt and Roy frequently made stops in Marceline to visit with the Johnsons. He loved to travel from Los Angeles to New York via train, and every chance he got he would stop off for an hour or two as the train came through town. Inez became particularly close to Ruth, and it was Ruth who instructed that all of her family memorabilia be donated to the museum upon her death. Inez tears up when she talks about it, but has a smile on her face as she recalls how special that was.

“Walt was supposed to be here for the dedication of Midget Autopia,” she recalls. Her voice breaking a bit she says “he cancelled at the last minute because he thought he had a bad cold. It was the cancer. He dies just three months later.”  We all had tears in our eyes when she said this.

This is one train car that no longer rides the rails, located not far from the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
The restored train depot serves as the home for the Walt Disney Hometown Museum that opened in 2001. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
The Walt Disney Hometown Museum owns roughly 3,000 Disney-related artifacts, including many items from Ruth Disney. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


As a Disney fan, it is a rare opportunity to get to spend time with anyone who knew Walt and his family personally. Inez was a gracious hostess and we appreciated everything that she shared with us. She pointed us in the direction of the Disney Family Farm after we viewed the museum displays and told us that her daughter would be delighted as well for us to spend time at the house. We promised to stop by as soon as we were done taking in every item on display.

Installation of the Midget Autopia in Marceline. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
Martin is delighted with his find of one of the Midget Autopia cars- this one was never used on the track in Marceline, but was housed in a warehouse as a spare car. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
An image of the Midget Autopia car displayed in Disneyland. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


We were able to see the diploma presented to Walt Disney from Marceline High School during one of the presentations that took place as well as Walt Disney’s grade school desk, complete with Walt’s initials.


There were so many artifacts- it is easy to spend a day just taking it all in.

Possibly some of the first ever Disney pins next to a classic wrist watch.  Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
Some of the original track from Walt’s railroad that he built at his home in Holmby Hills, CA. Known as the “Carolwood Pacific Railroad”. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Martin and Conductor Mickey Mouse.  Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


This stereo and it’s album collection are priceless- the albums are recordings of the Disney family, most notably of Walt and Roy talking with their father, Elias. They liked technology and playing around with it was a great form of fun and learning.  Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Roy was the business man that got things done, and Walt was creative operations.  If not for Roy keeping his word to his brother when Walt was dying, we would never have had Walt Disney World.  Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


We were able to sit down and watch Ruth’s TV and walk on her living room rug. The TV shows the Disneyland opening special. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Note the letterhead on correspondence from Walt’s secretary to Ruth over the years. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


A treasure indeed- this is an actual branch from Walt’s Dreaming Tree. This large cottonwood tree was Walt’s favorite thing on the Disney farm. He and Ruth would play under it, climb it, and play in the spring that ran at it’s base. In later years, Walt would return to his favorite spot for inspiration when he visited Marceline, reflecting beneath it and spending time alone with his thoughts. The tree finally lost it’s life after a battle with disease and lightening strikes in 2015, but there is a location dedicated to it on the farm (see pics below). In 2003, one of Walt’s grandsons planted a sapling grown from the original Dreaming Tree and it is known as the “Son of Dreaming Tree”. It is flourishing. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Original miniature models for Disneyland are proudly on display. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney worked together at this light table. They shared it during their time working for Pesmen Rubin in 1919. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Walt’s grade school classroom is recreated including some of the original desks. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
Model for the Matterhorn at Disneyland. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
Model for It’s a Small World at Disneyland. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
Original model for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle area at Disneyland. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
This display is Main Street USA, and the display above it shows the buildings that were in Marceline. There is no doubt that Walt modeled Main Street USA directly after Marceline, although there is a town in California and one in Colorado that have tried to claim the same. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Delightful Disneyland miniatures are everywhere. It is interesting to see how Walt wanted everything to look. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.



When leaving the museum, Inez bestowed a great gift to Rhonda. She told her that she believed that Walt would have adored her and that she must have been a wonderful Cast Member- and told her that she was a “pistol”. It made Rhonda laugh, and then cry as she was given some cottonwood seeds from the actual Dreaming Tree to take home. It was a very special moment. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.

After hugging Inez goodbye and thanking her profusely, it was time to go to the Disney Family farm house. As we pulled up, we were able to greet Inez’s daughter. She told us that we could roam the entire farm and to feel right at home.

Walt Disney’s Childhood Home in Marceline. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Wanting to see everything, Martin and Rhonda started walking the grounds to go back to the site of the Dreaming Tree and Walt’s barn. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


This is “Son of Dreaming Tree”, and it is thriving. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


We roamed all through the wooded areas happily. It was very special to truly walk in such a place of reverence for Disney fans. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
The Disney Family Farm is beautiful and the views are largely unchanged from what Walt would have looked upon. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
And there it was…Walt’s beloved barn. He loved the barn so much that he had his California barn modeled after it as an adult. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


In many ways, walking in Walt’s footsteps where he spent his formative, happiest, and most imaginative years is greater than the feeling one gets when visiting Disneyland.  The beauty of this place is so special. It is simple and beautifully pure, and even listening to the breeze and smelling the flowers touches you emotionally. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


Many Disney fans have made the pilgrimage to the barn. They sign their names somewhere in it as a lasting tribute. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
It is easy to see why Walt was inspired with such incredible beauty surrounding him. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
Peering out from the front of the barn. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.


We also left our mark. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.
The appreciation for this place only grew with our journey. We hope it lasts for many years to come. Image ©Moffits Mad Hatter Adventures, 2018.

It was a day we will never forget, and a place that is every bit as magical as anything Walt or Roy created. If you would like to visit and would like some assistance with where to stay and how to get there, just email us at moffits@madhatteradv.com. We can plan your experience as well.




Are you visiting Disney in the future? We have some amazing packages available and can save you time and money so you and yours have the best time possible! After all, one of us is a former Cast Member.  Fill out our form HERE to receive your FREE quote. Our services are completely free for you to utilize and you will get YEARS of experience on your side when booking with Moffits- Mad Hatter Adventures.

Always consider booking with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planning agency, such as Mad Hatter Adventures. We will be available to assist you with everything from finding the best value for your travel party to getting dining reservations and Fastpass+ attractions lined up.  Just get in touch with us at moffits@madhatteradv.com or watch our adventures on Facebook. We don’t just book Disney, we LIVE it!

Images copyright Disney, 2018.

Photo of the Week

Just a favorite Disney photo for your amusement. I like this one, as it makes me think of my happy place.

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes....
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes….

Hidden Mickey Autographed Book Contest for Disney Fans!


Walt’s Basement is very proud to have among their 2015 sponsor partners Nancy Temple Rodrigue- author of the Hidden Mickey Adventure book series!

This month is a GREAT month to cozy up with a fantastic Disney read, such as one of her books. They are giving away one of her books, autographed by Nancy herself, to celebrate!


1) You must have at least 100 posts at the Walt’s Basement Forum. (If you don’t have them yet- get to posting, folks! It’s www.walts-basement.com!)

2) Check out Nancy’s blog HERE. Then come back to this topic (http://waltsbasement.yuku.com/topic/43770/HIDDEN-MICKEY-ADVENTURES-CONTEST) and post a reply telling us which one of her books you like the idea of the best, and why. This will gain you one entry!

3) Check out Nancy’s Facebook Hidden Mickey fan group page HERE. LIKE and join the page, and then come back to this topic (http://waltsbasement.yuku.com/topic/43770/HIDDEN-MICKEY-ADVENTURES-CONTEST) and post another separate reply telling them you joined! Once it’s verified, this will gain you an additional entry!

4) For one more bonus entry, you may post ONE image on this topic (http://waltsbasement.yuku.com/topic/43770/HIDDEN-MICKEY-ADVENTURES-CONTEST) in another separate post, please that you have taken of a Hidden Mickey either at the parks or at your home- anywhere!

You may gain a total of 3 entries for this one of a kind, specially autographed book!

Drawing will take place via random drawing generator and the results will be announced on February 9!

JOIN IN BY FEBRUARY 8! Posting and joining the WB Forum is simple and fun- plus once you get your 100 posts, you will be considered an active member and qualify for even MORE giveaways, mailings, and surprises all year long- just for the love of Disney!

If Disney Princesses Had Instagram

Which is your favorite?

Disney Trip Planning: Traveling by Car

Do you travel by car to Disney?

Modern Mouse Radio


There are a few great reasons to travel by car to your Disney destination, but there are also considerable downfalls.

Cost: It really depends on where you are driving from to decide whether the cost of driving becomes more or less than a plane ticket will. Things to consider for cost: gas (and your car’s mpg rating), hotel stay, restaurants, number of people traveling with you. For example, driving with my parents and a friend all in one car to Walt Disney World in Florida from Massachusetts ends up costing around $800-$1,000 if we budget, and up to $1,300 if we don’t pack food. We live 1,300 miles away and it takes about 19 hours of actual driving time to get there. Considering stopping for pee and leg-stretching and food breaks plus one hotel stay on the way there (and another on the way back), we end up getting to…

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Free Dining Disney World 2013 Predictions



***Update:  New rumor here.***

Everyone wants to know:  When, oh when, will Disney release their ever popular Free Dining discount for 2013??

The quick answer:  No one knows for sure.


The long answer:  The good news is I am very hopeful to see fall free dining for 2013.  In the past, Disney has split up the fall months into 2 time frames:  September and October-December.

For the month of September free dining promotion:  Last year Disney released that free dining discount right around March 5, 2012, so we are already a little late for this promotion in 2013.  It had to be booked by May 18th for the travel dates August 25 – September 29, 2012.

For the the October – December free dining promotion:  Last year, Disney released the free dining discount right around July 12, 2012 and it had to be booked by Sept 29, 2012. The…

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Just another day at Disneyland (Oh, and new Fantasy Faire stuff, too!)

Joanna Volavka

Disneyland castle in spring

A couple of weeks ago, Disneyland opened a new section of Fantasyland called Fantasy Faire. It’s basically a small annex beside Aurora’s Castle, but it adds an outdoor stage where they do short live-action plays about five times a day, and a Royal Hall where you get to meet princesses.

Disneyland Figaro

We didn’t have a particular plan to go, just sort of decided last minute (and hey, it’s only about an hour and a half away, so why not?), so last Tuesday we drove up and spent the day.

Disneyland azaleas

The flowers are blooming everywhere because it’s spring (even in the desert there are flowers, but I’ll get photos of that later this week), and Disneyland looked colorful and happy. Plus it was still the week before spring break, so no lines!

Disneyland Fantasy Faire

Of course we had to check out the new section, and the princess line was surprisingly short, so we…

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Disney Princess Art Collections

I'm All Ears

I have been perusing the Disney Store webiste lately, including DS Japan and UK and have come across a few art pieces/collections I think are wonderful!

This limited edition Disney Princes Gallery Collection was designed by a team of three artists under the supervision of Disney Senior Principal Character Artist Kim Raymond, and each print is one of only 250 pieces. Find it Here!

It looks like these beauties are only available via Disney Store UK. My favorites of the collection are Tiana and Belle, I think the artists captured something special with those two portraits.

Eric Tan brings a retro look to this poster art for The Little Mermaid.  ”Amazing Adventure Just Below the Surface” is modern while retaining a very classic Disney feel.Now, if only I had a home theater to hang it in… =P Find it Here!

Little Mermaid

I am IN LOVE with this piece by Genevieve Godabout and…

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History of Mickey Mouse — Infographic

What do you think?



I am not shy at all to admit that I am in love with a mouse.  I have always adored Mickey and millions of other around the world have as well — so much so that he has become instantly recognizable in every corner of the globe and a part of many cultures. But how did our hero rise from his humble beginnings as a replacement for Walt Disney’s lost character of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to the superstar he is now?  Today’s inforgraphic traces his history and evolution from his “birth” in 1928 to present. [VIA]

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World Secrets: Jellyrolls Dueling piano bar near Disney’s Boardwalk Resort


Our latest edition to our World Secrets Series is taking us to Jellyrolls! This adult-oriented facility provides a noisy – yet very FUN retreat for the 21 and up crowd.   Jellyrolls  is named after Jelly Roll Morton, a legendary jazz pianist, not a desssert. His real name was Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe – but that probably wouldn’t fit on the marquee quite as well.


Depending on where you start out on Disney property,  you can get to Jellyrolls Piano Bar by boat, a bus, or even on foot. More on that later.

So what’s Jellyrolls like?  Well, it reminded me of Howl at the Moon, which is a similar piano bar located here in Orlando, and in 15 other locations across the country. What makes this different is it is at Disney, perhaps the only place in the world where you will hear a gritty-voiced piano man sing a song…

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