Disney100: The Exhibition
Photograph: Disney
  • Museums, Childhood
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Disney100: The Exhibition

3 out of 5 stars

A slick, superficial celebration of a century of Disney


Time Out says

Produced by the Walt Disney Company, ‘Disney100: The Exhibition’ is very much a Disnified version of Disney history.

You’d expect nothing different from this globetrotting exhibition, which runs at the ExCel Centre until January. It is, after all, billed as a celebration of the family-friendly megacorp in its centenary year, not a dispassionate interrogation of its cultural impact.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but get the ick during the opening sequence, in which a twinkly-eyed projection of Walt Disney himself takes centre stage in a room that’s essentially a hagiographic shrine to the company’s founder, which we’re required to stay in for a fixed amount of time (unlike the rest of the exhibition, which we wander freely). Whether or not old Walt was a nice guy or not is a matter of some considerable debate, but this feels quite a lot like indoctrination. I mean I don’t think it brainwashed my kids or anything, but it’s a weird note to start on.

That out of the way, it’s a slick, fun-for-all-ages showcase for Disney’s many creations and acquisitions over the years, from cartoons to ‘Star Wars’, theme parks to theme tunes. Each room hits a decent balance between cool props – the real BB8! Cinderella’s glass slipper! – interactive touch screen displays – particularly fun in the music room – and informed written panels that gives adults something to fasten on to. There are, naturally, copious selfie opportunities.

Of course, it totally ignores the spicier episodes in the company’s history (no ‘Song of the South’), and it’s all a bit shallow and unrevelatory – eg if you’re already familiar with ‘Star Wars’ you won’t actually learn very much from the Star Wars room. But it’s nicely presented and each room has its own distinct personality and feels bright and interesting, with enough interactive stuff to suck in kids’ mayfly attention spans for a few minutes at a time. It bills itself as taking about an hour, and we hit that almost dead on, job done. It’s basically a brand advertisement that you have to pay to watch – but what a brand it is.


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