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Disney100: The Exhibition Comes to Philadelphia

The highly anticipated Disney exhibit premieres at the Franklin Institute on February 18, 2023.

Last year, Disney and the Franklin Institute announced the upcoming exhibit Disney100: The Exhibition. The newly created installation celebrates 100 years of Disney magic worldwide and features a fully immersive look at the history of the Walt Disney Company through the ages. Those fortunate enough to attend D23 EXPO got a first look at the exhibition during one of the convention’s exclusive panels. 

Plans to bring Disney100: The Exhibition to the Franklin Institute began circling nearly three years ago. Semmel Exhibitions worked closely with the teams at the Franklin Institute and the Walt Disney Archives to create the perfect Disney experience. The interactive exhibit was created to mold into different venues as it tours the country after its Philadelphia debut. 

"Sources of Inspiration" at Disney100: The Exhibition Philadelphia | WHERE Traveler®
"Sources of Inspiration" at Disney100: The Exhibition (©Disney)

Disney100: The Exhibition Debuts in Philadelphia

“The Franklin Institute is thrilled to debut this world premiere exhibition in Philadelphia during this remarkable 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company. We look forward to celebrating the legacy of the creative empire synonymous with imaginative storytelling, innovation, discovery and wonder that spans generations and delivers widespread, undeniable global appeal,” Chief Experience and Strategy Officer for the Franklin Institute, Abby Bysshe, said to audiences at D23 EXPO. “The Institute is a science center that spent almost 200 years bringing stories of innovation and discovery to the public in immersive and interactive ways. And we knew as soon as we saw the concept for the Disney100 exhibition that this was going to be a perfect fit for our venue and for our audience.”

Creating Disney100: The Exhibition

Disney100: The ExhibitionDisney100: The Exhibition is set to show visitors some of the “Crown Jewels” of the Walt Disney Archives, including memorabilia, historical artifacts and more. Guests can see the Disneyland Employee #1 badge issued to Walt Disney in 1955, the original Steamboat Whistle from “Steamboat Willie” and the Skywalker Lightsaber hilt used by Daisy Ridley in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” among other Disney pieces throughout the ages. A special soundtrack was also created for the exhibit by composer Steve Mazzaro who took part in various Disney soundtracks, including “The Lion King” and “Frozen.” 

"Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks" at Disney100: The Exhibition Philadelphia | WHERE Traveler®
"Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks" at Disney100: The Exhibition (©Disney)

“In curating an exhibit that will celebrate over one hundred years of our company’s history, the biggest challenge was actually what to leave out! The heart of our story begins, of course, with our founder, Walt Disney, so instead of telling a chronological story, we chose to focus on his philosophies and practices - what made his productions unique and special. Walt’s philosophies are the same ones that we adhere to today, the importance of storytelling, personality in animation, music, technological innovation, global outreach in both production and location-based experiences…and so much more,” Becky Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives explained. ”With this goal in mind, we first partnered with many groups within The Walt Disney Company to identify the most iconic assets, media, and information that will best tell our story—from animation, where it all started in 1923, to live-action production by multiple brands, and of course from our magical parks and resorts. After pulling together physical assets, art, media, and imagery, we then focused on developing new and exciting interactive ways to both tell these stories and entertain our visitors. Once we decided on the way forward and gathered the elements together, we worked with our amazing partners at Semmel Exhibitions and TK Design to create a new immersive experience that will travel the world for the next five years. It’s been quite a ride so far!” 

"The Nautilus Window" at Disney100: The Exhibition Philadelphia | WHERE Traveler®
"The Nautilus Window" at Disney100: The Exhibition (©Disney)

Experiencing Disney100: The Exhibition

“Like a traditional museum exhibition, we, of course, have iconic and historically important dimensional assets to share - over 250 of them, in fact,” Cline explained. ”These include original props, costumes, artwork, original documents, attraction vehicles & more. Beyond the items that visitors will enjoy seeing, though, we have created brand-new media and interactive elements for each of our ten galleries. Some are simple projection effects that enhance the assets; others let the visitor take a deep dive into our storytelling and learn how and why Disney productions have been so beloved for over a century. These interactives will enchant audiences of all ages too, from little ones to their grandparents.” 

"The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery" at Disney100: The Exhibition Philadelphia | WHERE Traveler®
"The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery" at Disney100: The Exhibition (©Disney)

“Over the past 100 years, Disney has brought its iconic stories and characters to life in new and innovative ways, becoming part of the global culture and creating generations of memories for billions,” Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of the Franklin Institute, told us. “We are excited to see our guests experience their favorite stories, characters, and moments from Disney’s remarkable history, and we hope they are inspired by the innovation and creativity that the Walt Disney Company has shown the world.”

“I’m excited about bringing the visions and philosophies of Walt Disney to a global audience who may or may not know much about him,” Cline said of the exhibition. ”Walt himself once said, “My business is making people, especially children, happy.” So, I simply hope that this exhibition will make children of all ages happy—and let them also know how very much we appreciate them sharing their lives with us over the last one hundred years – and on into the future.” 

"Where it All Began" at Disney100: The Exhibition Philadelphia | WHERE Traveler®
"Where it All Began" at Disney100: The Exhibition (©Disney)