The exhibition is filled with nostalgia and will leave you feeling childlike – but it would have been nice to have seen more of the original drawings.

Disney is a company that for 100 years has been part of all of our lives and we all have our favourite memories of Disney films and the impact they had on our childhood, which is part of the reason this exhibition is such a joy to behold.

Arranged into themes such as storytelling, music and sound, innovations and adventure for example it feels as though the story of Disney has been nicely compacted into ExCel London exhibition space. There are some really lovely props on display, including Cinderella’s gorgeous glass slipper from the live action version of the fairytale, Emma Stone’s blood-red dress from Cruella and the models of characters such as Timothy the mouse and Moana are lovely in which to see how the company refine their character.

Having the themes in place, makes it an easy exhibition to digest, allowing visitors to linger in the rooms that they are most interested in. For me, it was the storytelling room which was the most playful, while the illusion of life was most fascinating in terms of seeing how characters were developed ( I loved finding out more about how Glenn Close saw her interpretation of Cruella for example) and how they can be transformed for a modern audience.

It was also a joy to see the carousel horse that Dick Van Dyke rode in Mary Poppins and take some time to listen to some Disney songs along the way. The immersive aspects of the story are wonderfully charming and add further a sense of playfulness to the exhibition.

However, towards the end the joy begins to fade slightly, as attention turns to the way in which the company uses technology to develop their work further – fascinating for those with an interest in film making, but perhaps less so for kids. It is also slightly disappointing not to see more original drawings and such from the archives – but it does have to be said that they do look authentic enough.

While there are no major revelations to be found, it is still fascinating to discover how Disney started off and how he was intelligent enough to always take the company up to the next level of innovation – which does make you wonder what is next in store for the company over the next century. Yes, it does feel slightly sugarcoated in terms of Walt Disney’s behaviour to his staff (which is overlooked) but given that this is supposed to be a celebration of the company and those who have worked on countless films, perhaps this isn’t such as surprise.

It would be fair to say that the wealth of treasures in the Disney archive would meant that this exhibition could go on forever (an American version of the exhibition is also touring the USA) and it is impossible to mention each and every film and project the company has been involved in although it does a good job in trying to do so.

Overall, there is a real childlike joy to be found in exploring this exhibition that it is difficult not to leave feeling nostalgic and happy.

By Emma Clarendon

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


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