Marceline, MO. A Must-See For Walt Disney Fans
We finally did it! We made the jaunt from California to a little town called Marceline, Missouri. Just about two hours outside of Kansas City sits Marcline, a small town of about 2200 people, where there are no stoplights (only a stop sign with a flashing red light… does that count?), no Whole Foods Markets and it’s the home of The Original Main Street U.S.A. It’s also the hometown of Walt Disney.
Walt was actually born in Chicago, but then moved to Marceline at a young age. Several years later, the Disney family moved to Kansas City. However, Walt seemed to identify with Marceline more than Chicago and Kansas City, as he often returned to the small town, premiered a movie at the local Uptown Theater, donated a flag pole from the Squaw Valley Olympics to the Walt Disney Elementary and was inspired to create Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A after Marceline’s Main Street. He even sent the popular Midget Autopia ride (tracks and cars) to his hometown to be set up and ridden by the children.
We found out about Marceline while attending Disney’s D23 Expo in 2013. We met Joe and his family, who own Grand Marceline Company, and fell in love with their incredible coffee and have been ordering it from them ever since. Their coffee is hand-crafted in antique, Victorian Era roasters in Marceline, Mo and sent to us from the Walt Disney United States Post Office every couple of weeks. We became friends with Joe and his family and have been trying to make it a point to visit and finally made the trip!
What you have to understand is that I am a city girl. I grew up in San Francisco, a big (and very beautiful) city. We had thousands of stoplights, way more than 2200 people, and plenty of Whole Foods markets. However, while I don’t know if I could move to such a small town, we felt so incredibly welcomed by the lovely people in Marceline. And, as I write this while on the plane leaving Kansas City, I cannot wait to go back!
We're a couple of Disney nuts. We love Disneyland, go often and love all things related to Disney. But what you might not know is that we love Walt Disney himself, his history, his business sense and his overall DREAM IT mentality. I mean — look what he created: An empire that has continued and will continue to live on for generations to come. Of course, being Walt Disney fans, we had to see everything in Marceline — which can be done in 1-2 days.
We stayed at the cutest bed & breakfast in Marceline - quite the hidden gem, though it’s smack dab in the middle of Main Street U.S.A. (all my Disney fans are singing that song right?) above the Uptown Theater. This theater was built in the 1930s, and there is so much that is original inside.
While it’s not currently showing movies, we got a private tour and fell in love. What a beautiful theater! So much is original; it was like stepping back in time. Okay, so the seats are newer and the flooring is newer and it’s had a recent paint job, but the screen is original, the drapery inside is original and get this… they still have the original projector, which is still operational! It has a new piece that has been added on, but the base of it is from when the theater opened. In 1956, Walt Disney visited Marceline and premiered his movie The Great Locomotive Chase in this amazing Uptown Theater. He, along with his brother, Roy, welcomed the town and spoke on stage before the film.
We even got to stand on that stage, see the screen up close and take it all in.
Where else would you stay in Marceline other than the Uptown Bed and Breakfast! We loved our stay at this cute B&B. We stayed in The Walt Disney Suite — It had lots of charm, is cozy, has lots of space and the best view of … sing with me … the middle of Main Street U.S.A! It’s decorated Disney Style, of course (is there any other way?), has a kitchen, fridge, microwave, TV (an Apple TV to use, as well), dining table, couches and photos of Walt on the walls from his visits to Marceline. The bed was very comfortable, and we enjoyed leaving the drapes open to see the street when we went to bed as well as when we woke up. The train went by pretty often and we loved hearing it throughout the day from wherever we were in the town. I can see why Walt fell in love with trains after being in Marceline. I loved how centrally located the hotel was. (here are a few photos below)
We LOVED sleeping with the curtains open to wake up to the sun overlooking Main Street! This Bed & Breakfast is simple, clean, disney themed (whoo hoo!) and I would stay there again in a Disney-lovin' heart beat! You must check it out!
While you will have to have a car to get to Marceline (as it’s far from everything), you could literally walk everywhere. Our favorite place to visit was Cafe Marceline. This is where our coffee is made and then shipped to us out in California. Rachel works at Cafe Marceline and is so friendly (as is everyone in the town). She is an amazing barista, brewing the best coffee ever for us. They serve all kinds of coffee drinks (and hot cocoa, tea, etc.), but the coffee is where it’s at! You can see more about this coffee here and even order it, too! It will be sent to you from the Walt Disney United States Post Office! Rachel also roasts all of the coffee beans in Marceline, so it was way fun to meet her in person as we have been enjoying all the coffee over the past few years. You can also get some fun souvenirs at the Cafe! Diane, is the crafty genius behind it all! She has designed all kinds of fun things available for purchase, including this Straight Outta Marceline decal which we will proudly rock in Southern California! Thanks Diane!
Want to drink this incredible coffee from the comfort of your own home? You can order it from their website and even hop on that autoship train! "CHOO CHOOOOOO" (I think Walt would have enjoyed my train joke). We have Grand Marceline Coffee shipped to us every 2 weeks (you can choose your own frequency). They even have hot cocoa, too, which can be put on autoship as well. It's like having a little piece of Marcline every single morning.
Well, there's more coming and the only way you can know about it all is to follow The Walt Disney Hometown Theater online (click here). They will be starting an incredible project that you can be a part of as they will be fundraising to renovate and restore the theater back to it's original glory. It will be a big, but very exciting project.
Walt’s boyhood home is so charming! Of course there have been some additions added to it in the past 90 years, but it is darling! There is a plaque outside at the end of the property to which you can see. Please be courteous of the property as it is private. Take photos from the main road and a few selfies, but be mindful of the owners of this house. His barn in the back is a replica and was rebuilt in 2001. His dreaming tree is out back near the barn as well.
We can’t talk about Marceline without talking about Joe. He owns the Uptown Bed and Breakfast, Uptown Theater and Cafe Marceline. He (and his family) clearly love this town and want to see so much of it brought back to life. He showed us around the town, was super helpful answering all our questions about the theater, the town and pointing things out to us. Thank you, Joe!
(Anyone notice that all my paragraphs have started with a “W”…. Perhaps I did that on purpose for Walt.)
Well, I have to say, one of the coolest experiences was watching a movie... not just any movie and not just in any theater - but Joe allowed us to watch a movie in the Uptown Theater by ourselves on the big original screen that has been there since 1930. If you know me then you know that I LOVE The Jungle Book. It’s a special movie for me as well as for my family. My Grampa John took my Daddy to see it when he was a kid, and my Daddy showed it to me when I was a kid. The music is still just as relevant and fun today as it was in the 1960s.
We have gotten to meet 3 wonderfully talented people who worked on the film — in fact they are the only people still alive today who worked on this film: Richard Sherman (who wrote the songs alongside his brother Robert), Floyd Norman (the first African American animator at Disney and who was a part of the storyboard team for the movie) and Bruce Reitherman (the voice of Mowgli). This was also the last animated film that Walt worked on, as he died before the movie premiered in 1967.
When I was 10 years old, my Daddy brought home a teeny tiny black kitten. I was watching The
Jungle Book when he walked in with this little kitten, and I immediately named him Bagheera. (photo below) He was my best friend for 17 years until he passed away in 2015. Now my husband and I do a lot to keep his memory alive.
We love finding vintage Jungle Book memorabilia and merchandise, have 3 beautiful pieces by Floyd Norman, himself (here is one of them), and we watch The Jungle Book every year on October 15th — the day that I got my sweet Baggsy. I had never seen The Jungle Book on the big screen until getting to watch it at the Uptown Theater in Marceline, MO. When the movie started I got all teary eyed and as soon as Bagheera was on screen I cried. I miss my Baggsy so much and I love how special this movie is to my family.
What a wonderful treat! I am still smiling — such an incredible memory! THANK YOU JOE — you are the best!
We're big fans of Floyd Norman (he's incredible talented, funny & very kind). His documentary, Floyd Norman: An Animated Life is a must-watch! You can watch it on Netflix or purchase it here. (amazon affiliate link)
We toured the theater and got to see the original movie projector and learn about this incredible and historical spot in Marceline. It was a treat to go into the projector room and see the theater from that angle. The projector is massive and still works! The drapes, projector and screen as well as the moldings and some of the fixtures as seen in some of these photos. The 5 characters you see below (Mickey Chip & Dale, Goofy & Pluto) are painted on the walls of the entryway of the theater.