Throughout his life, Walt Disney celebrated the memories of his Marceline childhood in animated films like Lady and the Tramp and at Disneyland with Main Street, U.S.A. On March 14, 2012, nearly 100 D23 Members experienced firsthand this unique hamlet’s small-town charm. “It’s pretty surreal,” D23 Member Michael Belemjian says while on a walk down the street that helped inspire Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland. Michael traveled all the way from Selkirk, New York, to walk in Walt’s footsteps. “It’s such an experience to be here where it all started,” he adds.
And it was an early start for D23 Members. They made a two-hour, cross-Missouri trek comfortably on a D23-chartered luxury bus—a scrumptious breakfast was served onboard and classic Disney cartoon shorts were played. They arrived to a surprise welcome by the city of Marceline’s elementary school. “We started out the day with a wonderful welcome by the city,” D23 Member Rob Meister of St. Louis, Missouri, says. “All the kids were lined up near the Marceline post office and waiting for the D23 Members to arrive. When the D23 bus came around the corner there was this huge explosion of excitement!” Once off the bus, the elementary school students serenaded the D23 Members with the town’s rendition of the “Mickey Mouse Club March.”
D23 Members visited the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, E.P. Ripley Park, Kansas Avenue (the portion of which that runs through downtown Marceline has been renamed Main Street, U.S.A.), and the Walt Disney Post Office Building, the only Federal building named after Walt Disney. “Everyone here in the town has been so friendly and welcoming to us,” D23 Member Holly Anderson, from Longmont, Colorado, says. “I don’t know if you can really describe it, but there is something very special about the Midwest, specifically in the small towns, where people are very friendly and they make you feel like a part of the family.” To make the day even more special, a new Marceline cancellation stamp debuted, and D23 Members were able to send postcards with the Marceline hand cancellation on it.
After a tasty lunch—Marceline’s beef and vegetable stew had us clamoring for seconds!—D23 Members shopped on Main Street, U.S.A., screened So Dear to My Heart at the Uptown Theatre, made a sunset visit to the Disney Farm, and ended the day at the community building with a wine tasting and a buffet dinner, featuring mouthwatering, locally raised beef and poultry, vegetables, hot rolls, and, of course, the Midwestern staple of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Walt Disney is quoted as saying, “To tell the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since—or are likely to in the future.” And given the warmth extended to D23 Members during their visit, it’s easy to see why.
By D23′s Billy Stanek