Tucked in along Mickey Avenue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® is a truly unique attraction focused on Walt Disney’s life and legacy. Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream chronologically follows Walt’s life from his early days in Missouri to the last few years of his life spent creating the theme parks that we love today. Not many guests stop and take the time to explore this unique attraction, but it is an amazing experience that everyone should have the chance to see.
One Man’s Dream opened in 2001 as part of the 100 Years of Magic Celebration which celebrated what would have been Walt Disney’s 100th birthday. The attraction is part exhibit and part movie, but immerses guests from the moment they enter. It houses over four hundred artifacts including those from both Walt Disney’s early life as well as memorabilia from the Animation Studio and theme parks. Upon entering into the exhibit, you are shown glimpses of Disney’s early life including his 2nd grade school desk. It’s amazing to get a taste of the environment in which Disney was raised.
As guests progress through the exhibit, they learn about how Walt along with his brother Roy started their animation studio in the 1920s. Soon thereafter, there are tons of artifacts showcasing the history of Disney theme parks. Two of my favorite items on display are “Granny Kincaid’s Cabin” which was Walt’s first attempt at creating a miniature 3D environment, and the Abraham Lincoln audio-animatronic from the 1964 New York World’s Fair. There is also a great piece titled “The Dancing Man” which was Walt’s original attempt to create an animated figure, which later led to the creation of audio-animatronics. In addition to those items, there are also tributes to Figment and a former cast member of the Epcot® show Food Rocks.
As you move past props, you come to a section featuring numerous models of attractions and structures from the parks. Included in this group are models of the Jungle Cruise®, Spaceship Earth, Disneyland’s Main Street, various castles from Disney Parks around the world, the Tree of Life, and most recently added an extensive model of New Fantasyland®. In addition to the models, you can also get close to one of the famous Dumbo the Flying Elephant® attraction cars as well as one of the flying pirate ships from Peter Pan’s Flight®. Despite all of these amazing props to see and learn about, I think the most magical is an Oscar on display from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Talk about seeing history up close!
When you reach the end of the exhibit, there is a fifteen minute long film which gives a more in depth look at the life and legacy of Walt Disney. The film, previously narrated by former CEO Michael Eisner, is now voiced by Academy Award Winner, Dame Julie Andrews. I really stress that you should stay and enjoy the film as it offers a great perspective on the man behind everything that we have come to love today, and don’t worry about hurrying through the exhibit to make it to the film in time- it runs continuously every fifteen minutes.
One Man’s Dream is a unique and interactive exhibit which allows guests a glimpse into the makings of the company and Walt Disney World that they are experiencing today. The attraction is never crowded, and it offers the chance to explore at one’s own pace in air conditioning along with a film, which can be a great reprise from that Central Florida heat on a crowded day. If you have never experienced the attraction before, make sure to stop by next time you are at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and be sure to take your time exploring and enjoying the items and film- you’ll be glad you did!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
Have you ever experienced Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream? What is your favorite item on display? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.