PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The plane that helped Walt Disney scout for the future site of Walt Disney World will now find a new home and exhibit following its display at the 2022 D23 Expo.
Back in January, Disney announced that the Grumman G-159 Gulfstream I plane would be restored to its original glory and moved to Southern California to be on display for D23 Expo guests.
On Thursday night, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that following the expo’s conclusion the historic plane would be moved once again, this time from Anaheim to the nearby Palm Springs Air Museum not far from Palm Springs Smoke Tree Ranch, a place where Walt Disney stayed with family.
“We are so happy to have Walt’s plane make a ‘landing’ at the Palm Springs Air Museum, just a few miles from where Walt and his family had vacation homes at Smoke Tree Ranch,” said Walt Disney Archives Director Rebecca Cline. “It is the ideal setting for this incredible icon.”
The plane will be housed in a newly constructed exhibit and will open on Walt Disney’s birthday, Dec. 5.
In addition to seeing the repainted plane, the museum said guests will see rarely exhibited items from the aircraft’s interior, including a customized instrument panel originally located near Walt’s favorite onboard seat; 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 so much more.
The plane was first acquired by Walt Disney in 1963 and helped transport stars around Southern California including Kurt Russell, Julie Andrews, Annette Funicello and former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
“Mickey’s initials were eventually included in the tail number of the plane, too, as N234MM, in 1967. Throughout its 28 years of service to The Walt Disney Company, the plane flew 20,000 hours and transported an estimated 83,000 passengers before it was grounded,” Disney said in a post.
Following its time in service, the plane sat for years in Central Florida as part of Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When the attraction closed in 2014, the plane was eventually moved again to a secure backstage location where it sat away from the public eye.
During the D23 Expo beginning Sept. 9, guests will get to see the plane at an exhibit called Mickey Mouse One: Walt’s Plane presented by Amazon.
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