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The historic plane will be honored on October 15th, 2022, when it joins the Palm Springs Air Museum‘s aircraft collection. Walt Disney’s Grumman Gulfstream I plane will travel from Anaheim to Palm Springs, California, where it will be celebrated in mid-October alongside the Palm Springs Air Museum collection. A new exhibit will also be built at the Museum and will open on Walt Disney’s birthday, December 5, 2022. This new exhibit will highlight the plane’s history, affectionately known as “The Mouse,” as well as its significance to The Walt Disney Company’s history and relevance to the Palm Springs Area.
The newly repainted plane will be on display, along with rarely seen interior items such as 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; a flight bag featuring an image of Mickey Mouse sitting on the tail of the iconic plane; and more. Walt’s plane returned to the West Coast for the first time since October 8, 1992, when it landed at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) near Orlando, Florida, as part of the Studio Backlot Tour.
Walt Disney Imagineering’s collaboration and support enabled the recent exterior repaint and finishing work, as well as the aircraft’s cross-country move. Walt purchased the iconic Gulfstream that would become known as “The Mouse” in 1963. The plane’s interior was initially designed with creative input from Walt and his wife, Lillian, and included a galley kitchen, two restrooms, two couches, a desk, and nods to the mouse who started it all, such as matchbooks and stationery adorned with a silhouette of Mickey Mouse. Mickey’s initials were eventually incorporated into the plane’s tail number, N234MM, in 1967. During its 28-year tenure with The Walt Disney Company, the plane flew 20,000 hours and carried an estimated 83,000 passengers before being grounded.
Guests will be able to learn about the role this iconic plane has played throughout the company’s history when they visit the Palm Spring Air Museum:
In 1963, Walt, his family, and company executives boarded a demonstration Gulfstream aircraft to investigate potential locations, including Central Florida, for a proposed development known as “Project X.” After receiving his own Gulfstream in early 1964, Walt made several trips to Florida that laid the groundwork for the creation of Walt Disney World.
Walt’s plane flew 277,282 miles between Burbank and New York to oversee preparations for and during the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, which brought iconic attractions like “it’s a small world” to an East Coast audience and, later, to Disneyland.
Walt found inspiration for the look of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction while flying over the El Moro fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico, while conducting research for the now fan favorite.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is a living history museum with over 75 vintage airframes ranging from the Wright Brothers’ Kitty Hawk to World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the F-117 Stealth Fighter inside the new Jim Houston Pavilion, and significant civilian aircraft such as Clay Lacey’s Lear 24. Many of the planes are in good condition and are regularly flown. For more than 50 years, the Walt Disney Archives has carefully preserved The Walt Disney Company’s most treasured items, including original scripts, movie props and costumes, Walt Disney’s correspondence and script notes, theme park artifacts, merchandise, millions of archival photographs, and many of Walt’s personal effects.
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