Have you heard the tale about Walt’s private plane located in Disney World?
There are a lot of hidden gems, stories, and myths revolving around Walt Disney and the Disney World property. Some are commonly known while others remain a mystery. Disney history buffs love to uncover the stories behind the development of the theme parks and the man who dreamt it all. Settle in because we’re going to tell you about one of our favorite pieces of Disney trivia!
Some Disney fans may be familiar with the story behind Walt Disney’s plane that now sits backstage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The private plane plays a huge role in the development of Disney World and the New York World’s Fair.
Walt purchased the Grumman Gulfstream 1 (G1) in 1964 and collaborated with his wife, Lillian to choose the ultra-retro interior design. (Who said burnt orange and brown don’t work together?) Walt even chose to have a special seat equipped with an altimeter and air-speed gauge. He loved all things trains, planes, and automobiles!
The plane was first used to transport Disney and Imagineers between The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California to the World’s Fair location in New York. Later, Disney started using the plane to scope out the land for “The Florida Project,” aka, Disney World. The plane wasn’t marked with any design that indicated it was owned by Disney. He wanted to keep his scouting a secret while he planned Disney World!
The tail number printed on the plane was N234MM. When Disney pilots would make their initial air traffic call-ups they would say, “Two, three, four, metro metro.” Eventually, the pilots got cheeky and started calling “Two, three, four, Mickey Mouse.” Soon, FAA controllers called the plane Mickey Mouse and eventually landed on the most popular nickname “The Mouse.”
The plane had many other uses over the years like transporting Disney characters to visit children’s hospitals. It also carried famous figures like President Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Julie Andrews, and Annette Funicello. The plane reportedly inspired the design for The Pirates of the Caribbean too! Mark Malone, son of Pilot Chuck Malone, stated that Walt Disney spotted El Morro fortress while flying over San Juan, Puerto Rico. He thought the structure would be a great inspiration for his upcoming attraction!
The Mouse made its last flight on October 8th, 1992. It was then added to the Backlot Tour for fans to get a glimpse of Walt’s plane. The attraction is now closed, but the plane is still stuck backstage! @bioconstruct gave us a recent view of the plane. It received a new paint job within the last few years and sits idle waiting for its next journey.
Aerial looks at Walt's plane in a backstage area of Walt Disney World. It was on display in Disney's Hollywood Studios, with Mickey Mouse on the tail, as the plane looked during later general corporate use. Seems to be restored to original livery. pic.twitter.com/GZjRJUcNPC
— bioreconstruct (@bioreconstruct) February 9, 2019
We would love to see the plane make a return to another attraction or be put on display in the coming years. It’s a huge piece of history that is near and dear to many fans. We’ll have to wait and see if Disney puts it to use again!
What’s your favorite piece of Disney history? Let us know in the comments!
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