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Inside the Walt Disney Archives at the Bowers Museum
By Tinker Belle Diva

Early in 2020, it was announced that the exhibit Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic would be at the Bowers Museum in Santa, Ana, California starting on March 7th. This location is only about a 10-minute drive from Disneyland, so I thought I would see the exhibit on one of my planned trips to Disneyland in 2020. Of course, then there was the shutdown and with no re-opening date for Disneyland, I was unsure if I would see the exhibit at all. But in early September, the Bowers Museum announced they were re-opening the exhibit starting on September 11th. My chance, I already had a trip planned to Southern California that weekend, so I grabbed tickets. The exhibit was closed for part of 2021, but will reopen on March 17th, 20201 and has now been extended through June 20th, 2021.

Walt Disney Archives at Bowers Museum

The book used in the opening animation for Snow White

This exhibit celebrates the Walt Disney Company’s 50th anniversary of its archives. It is a 10,000-square-feet traveling exhibit, which premiered at D23 Expo Japan in 2018, and includes several rare items only on loan to the Bowers. It is stated that there are over 400 objects such as artwork, costumes, and props from the early years up to the present.

Tickets: Ticket prices are as follows:

Weekdays (closed Monday) Weekends
Adults $23 $25
Seniors (Age 62+) & Students (12) $20 $22
Children (3-11) (with paying adult) $5 $5
Children (Under 3) (with paying adult Free Free
Santa Ana Residents (Sunday Only) $10
Active Military & North American Reciprocal Museum Association member $10 $10
Walt Disney Archives at Bowers Museum

Replica of Walt’s desk used in the movie “Saving Mr. Banks”

Use this link to buy tickets. This is a timed-entry exhibit. That means you will purchase a ticket for a specific date and time, so it is recommended you buy online as the day/ time you want could sell out before you get there. There was no service fee added to the price when I bought my tickets online. Tickets are available on the hour, 10 AM – 3 PM Tuesday – Sunday. The timed entry helps with spacing out the visitors within the exhibit. The museum recommends that you arrive at least 30 minutes early to check-in at the admissions desk and receive their admission sticker, and then you can enter the line for Inside the Walt Disney Archives 5 minutes before their exhibition start time or any time after. There is no re-entry into Inside the Walt Disney Archives permitted after exiting. Your ticket includes admission into all of Bowers’ exhibitions anytime during regular operating hours on the same date.

Walt Disney Archives at Bowers MuseumOur ticketed time was at 10 am right as they opened. We arrived about 15 minutes ahead of time and joined a socially distance line outside the museum on the sidewalk. Right at 10 am, they began letting in the visitors. Each party entered at once, had a temperature check scan, then waited for an opening at the front desk to trade in their online reservation for a ticket and admission sticker. Face coverings are required.

Getting there: The museum is located at 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706. It is right off Interstate 5 freeway, and as I mentioned earlier, it is only a 10-minute drive from Disneyland. There are two parking lots directly north and south of the museum for a $6 fee. Nearby metered and timed street parking is also available.Walt Disney Archives at Bowers Museum

What to see: There are several rooms full of animation memorabilia, artifacts from Disneyland and Walt Disney World, movie costumes, movie props, a section with automobiles,… There really is a ton. We spent about an hour, saw everything, and read almost everything that was posted on the walls or in an exhibit. A quick run-through would be less than 30 minutes if you are pressed for time, or you could spend well over an hour seeing every detail.

There isn’t anything interactive, so I do think small children will have a hard time not getting a bit squirmy while you try to view the artifacts. If you are a fan of the Disney+ series, “Prop Culture”, you will be pleased to know that several of the items showcased in those epodes are at this museum for you to see in real life. In the last room before you exit, there is a reproduction of the Legends Plaza from the studio lot. This room has some of the casted handprints left my Disney Legends from Roy E. Disney to Ward Kimball to Mary Blair to Robin Williams.

Walt Disney Archives at Bowers Museum

Notice anything about one of these handprints?

Not able to get there in person? The museum has moved most of the special events that were going to be in-person at the museum to online. You can view those online special events at this link on their site.

If you want to create a trip to Southern California to see the exhibit, be sure to contact Patricia at All for Dreams Travel.  She provides expert advice, and her service is FREE!