London is to be one of the first locations on Disney 100 exhibition, which is travelling around the world over the next five years.
It makes sense because London has been a recurring backdrop for Disney’s animated and live-action films for decades. Exactly a century ago, on October 16, 1923, the Walt Disney Company was established by two brothers. Since then, it has evolved from a modest animation studio in California into a multi-billion-pound entertainment powerhouse.
For the company’s 100th anniversary, a vast collection of over 250 rarely-seen artifacts, props, and artwork is now on exhibit. The largest collection ever assembled by the Disney archives. Visitors can stroll a few steps from Cinderella’s glass slippers (2015). The exhibition features interactive elements, including a unique copy of JM Barrie’s novel, Peter Pan, with a handwritten note to Walt Disney from the author.
Speaking to the BBC World Service Global News Podcast, Becky Cline, the director of the Walt Disney archives, explained: “What we did is, instead of telling a chronological story, we decided what we would do is go back to our very roots, to 1923 and Walt Disney and Roy Disney, our founders, and look at what they did that we are still doing today. And then, instead of going on chronologically, each gallery represents one of Walt Disney’s philosophies”.
Disney has faced criticism for past portrayals of non-white characters and sexism. Remedial steps taken in Aladdin (2019) and The Little Mermaid (2023) include diverse casting and script revisions, sparking wider cultural discussions.
There are two exhibitions that will tour internationally. One will remain in London until January 2024, the second unit will be on display in Chicago from November 2023, with additional locations around the world soon to be announced.