Walt Disney historians are getting a treat at this year’s D23 Expo, as Walt Disney’s Grumman Gulfstream I plane has made a cross-country journey to Anaheim, California, where it will be on display for fans attending the sold-out event from September 9-11, 2022.
The Walt Disney Archives, along with D23 Expo Platinum sponsor Amazon, have restored the plane’s exterior for guests to see in a specially curated exhibit in the Arena of the Anaheim Convention Center called “Mickey Mouse One: Walt’s Plane presented by Amazon.”
The newly repainted plane, with updated wing edges and windows, will be on view along with never-before-exhibited items from the aircraft’s interior, including a customized instrument panel originally located near Walt’s favorite onboard seat that allowed him to monitor flight conditions; a telephone handset that gave Walt a direct line of communication to the pilot in the cockpit; and a flight bag featuring an image of Mickey Mouse sitting on the tail of the iconic plane.
The exhibit will also highlight the history of the plane, and showcase its significance in The Walt Disney Company’s history.
You can also try to get a peek at the plane sitting in the Toy Story Parking Lot at Disneyland, where it awaits its move inside the Anaheim Convention Center.
In 1963, Walt acquired the iconic Gulfstream that would come to be known as “The Mouse.”
The interior of the plane, initially designed with creative input from Walt and his wife, Lillian, seated up to 15 passengers and included a galley kitchen, two restrooms, two couches, a desk, and nods to the mouse who started it all, including matchbooks and stationery adorned with a silhouette of Mickey Mouse.
Walt’s plane flew a total of 277,282 miles back and forth between Burbank and New York to oversee preparations before and during the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, an event that brought iconic attractions such as “it’s a small world” to Disneyland.
Walt also used it to scout locations in Florida for what would become Walt Disney World.
Mickey’s initials were eventually included in the tail number of the plane, in 1967, when it became N234MM.
“The Mouse” has a star-studded past, having been used for promotional tours for and in classic movies such as “The Jungle Book” (1967), as well as making appearances in The Walt Disney Studios films “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” (1969) and “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t” (1972), both of which starred Disney Legend Kurt Russell (see this year’s list of Disney Legends, which will be awarded at D23 Expo).
The aircraft has also transported notable guests including Disney Legends Julie Andrews and Annette Funicello, as well as former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Throughout its 28 years of service to The Walt Disney Company, the plane flew 20,000 hours and transported an estimated 83,000 passengers before it was grounded.
On October 8, 1992, the plane landed on World Drive in Orlando, Florida, at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), where it resided as a part of the Backlot Tour until 2014.
It then went into storage, where it remained until this week.
D23 Expo 2022 is sold out, but select panels and events will be live streamed. For more information, visit D23Expo.com.
Disney fans attending D23 Expo are invited to shop at Amazon’s immersive space on the showroom floor with in-person peeks at custom merchandise related to “Mickey Mouse One: Walt’s Plane.”