What to expect from the Disney 100 Exhibition at London ExCel
By Helen Wright
Exciting news for Disney fans! The Disney 100 Exhibition London has now opened at London ExCel and it’s an ear-mazing display of all things Disney. I’d say it was virtually impossible to not have noticed The Walt Disney Company is celebrating a century of Disney magic in a massive celebration that stretches from the Florida theme parks to your local Asda (with its huge Disney 100 clothing range).
Disney 100: The Exhibition is another way to celebrate a detailed history of Disney movies and more, with a curated collection of props, original drawings and movie memorabilia from an epic 10 decades of Disney. The touring Disney 100 Exhibition was originally displayed in Philadelphia, USA, earlier this year and is now open for the first time in the UK.
PassportStamps.uk was at the launch of Disney 100: The Exhibition and this is everything you need to know:
Cover image: Disney Parks. This post contains affiliate links.
Disney in London! What is the Disney 100 Exhibition at ExCel?
It’s finally time to celebrate Disney in London! To mark 100 years of Disney, there has been a series of special events leading up to the official Disney 100-year anniversary on October 16th 2023. Officially called ‘100 years of wonder’, the date celebrates 100 years since Walt and Roy Disney founded The Walt Disney Company – and the rest is, well, history!
Almost 500 movies, 12 Disney theme parks, Grammy and Oscar-winning music, Broadway shows, cruise lines and more – it’s fair to say, Disney knows the magic formula and this is a legacy worth celebrating.
The Disney 100 Exhibition is a touring Disney exhibition that began in the USA and has now opened in London at the ExCel centre, close to London Docklands. Taken from the extensive Walt Disney Archives, the exposition will display more than 250 rarely-seen artefacts, works of art, costumes and props, and precious memorabilia from Disney’s celebrated history.
Allow yourself time to explore as the Disney 100: The Exhibiton is huge! There are ten themed galleries featuring classics from Disney’s first animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to one of its latest films, Encanto. Plus, the Disney 100 exhibition also includes live action movies and favourites from – Pixar, Star Wars and MARVEL!
Is it a good thing for kids to do?
One thing to know about the Disney 100 Exhibition at Excel is that it’s not an interactive space or a selfie-style event (like the Wonder of Friendship Experience). Children are welcome at Disney 100: The Exhibition, but think of it more as a museum, rather than a Disney play space.
There is no question that the exhibition will be fun for kids, but manage expectations by explaining that familiar things they may recognise from the movies will be behind glass or in roped off areas. Children nine and over will get the most from the exhibits because, as well as being more familiar with the films, they will be better able to appreciate the artefacts, artwork and props. Note that there are no Character appearances at the exhibition.
For the Disney adults among us (me) and anyone with a love of movies and art, the Disney 100 Exhibition is a wide display of talent, imagination and skill. If you have grown up with Disney films, some areas are very emotional. Plus, emotive Disney music plays as you move around the rooms, which I loved.
How much are Disney 100 Exhibition tickets?
You can buy Disney 100 Exhibition tickets directly from the Disney100 Exhibit website or if you are visiting London and want to pair the Disney Exhibition with a range of tours, including an open-top bus tour, a River Thames boat ride and a walking tour – check out this deal.
Tickets for Disney 100: The Exhibition start from £21 per adult and £16.50 for children, OAP and NHS card holders and vary between dates. Child and adult prices are the same, but children under the age of five get in FREE. Weekends and dates close to Christmas are more expensive and some dates are already sold out. The Exhibition officially opens to the public on October 13th 2023 and runs until January 2024.
Once you have selected the date you want to visit, you will be give a time slot to enter. This is primarily to manage crowds entering the centre and in each room to make it more enjoyable for everyone, but once inside you can stay as long as you want.
Disney 100: The Exhibition – the best bits:
When you enter the exhibition, you are welcomed by ‘Walt himself’ on Disney’s magic stage and his introduction sets the scene for what is showcased throughout the Disney 100 Exhibition.
There are 10 themed areas ranging from the origins of animation to modern day special effects and how Disney has expanded over the century. Inside each zone is a mix of objects, pictures, artifacts and props, and to my excitement, a whole room about theme parks. With over 50 visits under my belt, Disney parks are one of my favourite things to talk about and this was a fascinating insight into the beginning of Disneyland and the expansion to Florida, Paris, China, Hong Kong and Japan.
After the exciting introduction, the exhibition is set up into ten separate rooms, each with a different theme. However, the floor is designed to free flow from each room to the next, so you might not even realise you have moved through. Look out for the illuminated posters, which signpost which room you’re entering next.
I really loved the ‘Illusion of Life’ section, which had costumes and props from the recent The Little Mermaid film and costume illustrations from Disney Classics. For modern Disney fans, there is a Star Wars and Marvel area, with Avengers helmets assembled. These were very cool.
Don’t miss the Magic of Sound and Music gallery, which has a listening post to hear your favourite Disney song and sheet music, with background information on the origins of Disney music featuring the Sherman Brothers and beyond. Disney musicals on Broadway and the West End are also featured here and being a big musical theatre fan, I loved reading about them.
My favourite area was, of course, the Disney Parks gallery! I loved seeing the retro merchandise dating back to the 1950s, original park map drawings and little references from the parks, which for anyone who has been, you will definitely recognise. You can even get your picture in a Magic Tea Cup ride car – so how could I resist?
What were the negatives to the display?
The official website for the Disney 100 Exhibition boasts more than 250 Disney artefacts, and the exhibit is large enough, so that is probably true. However, it doesn’t ‘feel’ like it. Much of the exhibition is digital or photographic and I did leave wishing there were more tangible items to see.
Some of the items on display were actually replicas of the original documents, such as the artist aerial view drawing of the original Disneyland Park in California. This was disappointing to me. If ancient and priceless paintings can be transported and displayed, it’s perfectly feasible to expect this exhibition to showcase originals too. Having said that, I doubt many people will notice the difference.
Finally, with modern exhibitions (like David Hockey: Bigger and Closer) really setting the bar for interactive galleries, the Disney 100 Exhibition was not as immersive or ground-breaking as I was expecting. Maybe I am spoilt by visits to the amazing theme parks, but this certainly felt more like a traditional museum rather than the anticipated Disney magic effect.
As a huge Disney fan, this didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the Disney 100 Exhibition and the prices are reasonable for the experience, so I would highly recommend it for a fun afternoon out, if you want to learn more about the history of the company or get your dose of Disney this side of the pond.
Is there food inside the Disney 100 Show at ExCel?
Disney isn’t Disney without the food, is it? However, I am sad to report there are no Disney food options here. A café selling Mickey bars or themed cakes at the end would have been so good! There is a gift shop with exclusive Disney 100 merchandise, such as clothing and collectables, posters from the exhibition and toys (so if you do bring the kids, beware!). You can’t buy Mickey ears though. You need to head to ShopDisney for those – or head to the Disney parks, of course.
Inside the ExCel centre there are various food places and coffee shops. Outside the West Entrance, which leads to the DLR train, you will also find a bar and restaurants too.
Is the Disney 100 Exhibition accessable?
The Disney 100 Exhibition at ExCel is completely accessible (other than being able to climb into the tea cup ride car), with wide passageways for wheelchair access.
How to get to the Disney 100 Exhibition at London ExCel:
It’s easy to get to the Disney 100 Exhibition from central London by public transport. The nearest station to ExCel London is Custom House, which you will find on the DLR and Elizabeth lines. You can take the Elizabeth Line from popular areas like Paddington, Bond Street and Liverpool Street, and from London Heathrow. You can take the DLR from Bank Station.
There is parking at ExCel London, but this is charged at around £1 per hour.
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