Disney100: The Exhibition opened earlier this month to much fanfare. For those unfamiliar, the exhibition at London’s ExCel is a huge showcase put together by The Walt Disney Archives and Semmel Exhibitions to celebrate 100 years of Disney stories. I was lucky enough to check it out on the opening weekend, and while We Don’t Talk About Bruno, I can talk a little about my visit to Disney100: The Exhibition – read on for my review.
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The ultimate ‘Disney museum’
First things first, make sure you head to the right place for Disney100: The Exhibition. I made the mistake of heading into the ExCel; the exhibition is actually housed just next to the main building. An exhibition boasting 20,000 square feet of installations requires its very own space, after all. Once I found myself in the correct queue, my Disney journey truly began. As my group and I hummed our favourite Disney tunes in anticipation, we browsed the animators’ notes on the wall – we were already getting peeks behind the scenes, and we hadn’t even set foot in the actual exhibition yet.
Following check in, we came across our first photo opp, with a photographer and green screen. Then, the experience started with a five-minute introductory show, projected on 280-degree screens, and I felt the magic within me already. Even Walt Disney himself – okay, an AI version – made an appearance to welcome us to the exhibit.
With over 250 incredible artefacts, there is plenty to see, from a recreation of the earliest known Disney drawing to official storyboards, and animators’ models to costumes. My favourite was the iconic red dress worn by Emma Stone in Cruella (2021); however, I’m going to put it out there: if my foot was just that bit narrower, my little size 3s could definitely fit in Cinderella’s glass slipper! The angle of the heel looked rather ankle breaking though, so it’s no wonder she stepped out of it at midnight.
Being up close and personal to all the artefacts made us feel a part of the Disney universe: to learn the set secrets displayed to visitors is something so far removed from what a regular filmgoer would experience.
I must highlight in this review that the production values at Disney100: The Exhibition were impressive: from the aforementioned AI Walt Disney to screens that displayed the lifecycle of a sketch to the final product. I also felt it was laid out well; despite there being a clear route to follow, if you veered away, there were still stand-alone displays too. One room towards the end felt like a Disney infinity room, while in another, there was what appeared to be a book flipping through a story by itself – it was only on closer inspection that I realised it was a projection on a solid book. The magic of Disney, eh?
The website states the entire experience takes about an hour; I’ll be honest, while our group did take about this time on our visit, had I been on my own, or had there been fewer visitors around, I would have probably taken a little longer to read the prompts, engage in the interactive elements, and truly soak in the history that was laid in front of me. If you’re setting aside a fair few hours, perhaps your visit to Disney100: The Exhibition could form part of a whole Disney day out in London?
To me, Disney100: The Exhibition is the ultimate museum of Disney. Unlike the theme parks or shows, you aren’t in the world of Disney; rather, you browse recognisable relics from the Disney universe, learn the story of the creator, and find out how these enchanting stories came to be. It stirred A Whole New World of Disney fandom within me, and as my friend noted “it forces you to appreciate the technical genius behind the final product“. So, there you have it – my review of Disney100: The Exhibition. The exhibition is currently due to be around for the next few months, so don’t be one of the Poor Unfortunate Souls who miss out – secure your tickets today.