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WDW Tip of the Week: Finding Disney in Volo, Illinois

A Walt Disney World vacation can be an overwhelming experience of sights and sounds, even for the most seasoned Guest. The magic of Disney storytelling and creativity immerse you in a world of fantasy—what a great feeling!

Unfortunately, the day arrives when it’s time to say, “See you real soon,” and head home. Until your Disney vacation clock chimes that it is time to pack for your next trip, it is possible to find the history and magic of Disney outside the Parks — sometimes where you may least expect it. 

Northwest of Chicago (approximately 60 miles) in the village of Volo is the Volo Auto Museum. Established in 1960, the Museum has an eclectic exhibit of vintage to modern classic cars, including television and movie cars–some original and some replicas. But that’s not all. The Museum also houses an excellent collection of Disney memorabilia.

Here is a sample of what Disney treasures you can see at the Volo Automobile Museum:

Barbie’s pink glam auto from the 1994 Magical World of Barbie event at Disney’s EPCOT. The 1970 Cadillac Deville was part of the Disney fleet and also used by Cruella De Vil and Miss Piggy.

A 1964 Volkswagon built and used in the Disney film Herbie Fully Loaded. Herbie is on display most days, but because he is one of the most recognizable vehicles in the Museum collection, they use the car for special events.  

A 1977 Star Wars Landspeeder X-34 built by Academy Award-winning special effects artist John Stears. The Landspeeder display includes a few licensed Star Wars memorabilia.  

Two ca. 1960 Disney Toy Factory machines built by Mold-A-Rama for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. The Factory promoted Disneyland and used by guests of the World’s Fair to produce Disney licensed characters. There were approximately 200 machines made, but most are hidden away in museums and personal collections. But the two machines owned by the Museum are available for use by the public.  

A custom-built, double-decker omnibus, designed by Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr for Disney’s EPCOT. The omnibus transported Characters to welcome guests at the daily rope drop, but it also was used for Character meet-and-greets.  

The Museum has a few Disney parade vehicles, which most of you will remember. They include two custom-built Jeeps for the Jammin’ Jungle Parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; the Grand Marshal car for the Stars and Motor Cars Parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; and the Dizzy Lizzy driven in the 1950s and 1960s by Goofy at Disneyland.  

One very unique exhibit was the Disney Diorama collection, which includes Characters created for use at Disney stores to promote animated films. The dioramas include Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, 101 Dalmatians, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and more.  

One of my favorite finds was in the Military Exhibit. Several of the showcases from World War II displayed military insignias designed by Disney Studios for minesweepers, bombers, tanks, and fighter planes. During World War II, Disney Studios created over 1,200 insignias, with Donald Duck appearing in approximately 200. 

If you are a Disney fan, and especially if you’re a car fan, you will enjoy the Volo Auto Museum. With 33+ exhibits, there is something for everyone—even the kids! For more information, the Museum website is very helpful!

Disney magic is everywhere! Sometimes in the most unexpected places.  IMHO, finding an unexpected connection to the Disney story is as thrilling as finding a hidden Mickey—especially when you’re not searching for one. 

To learn more about Kathy Wicks and read some of her other posts, visit her author page.  (All photos from the personal collection of Kathy Wicks.)