This year was my sixth trip to Marceline during their annual event, ToonFest. I have been making this voyage since 2009, after my first trip to Walt Disney World. Visiting one of the parks invokes a new level of fandom, and makes a trip to Marceline something magical.
ToonFest is held toward the end of September, usually on the last Saturday. This year was different, in that it was the week before. I don’t know why this was changed, but it seems Universal. And by that, I mean that Universal usually begins their annual Halloween Horror Nights on the last weekend of September as well, but opened up a week early. Is there something about Sept 26 that I don’t know about?
After about a two hour drive up I-35 and across MO Hwy 36, you can see the exit for Marceline. There’s a great big sign, an arrow, pointing toward Marceline, where the magic began. After a quick stop at a local Casey’s for a bathroom break, you can take a right toward the original Main Street USA, which is now Kansas Ave.
At 10AM, the parade begins. This isn’t anything grandiose or super produced, this is pure small town America. This is the small town that forged Walt’s most precious memories and inspired his values. I have recorded this parade for the last few years, and some things remain the same, but somethings are always different. Here is a look at this year’s parade from two different perspectives. First, a view give to my Periscope followers. I’ve edited this video to fix that I had to hold the phone vertically while streaming. After the parade, I took the viewers on a tour down Main Street.
If this video is too shaky for your eyes, then you might enjoy the view from my Sony Handycam, firmly sitting on a tripod.
After the parade, the fun begins in earnest! ToonFest is like having a fan convention that spans a small town! There are cartoonists giving panels, there are booths of merchandise to visit and spend your cash, there are shops in town with Disney antiques, and of course, there is the ToonFest Headquarters where all of the cartoonists have signed their names and drawn characters on the wall. Previous guests have included Pete Doctor of PIXAR fame, Stephen Silver (Kim Possible character designer), and Eddie Pittman (Phineas and Ferb storyboard artist)!
After visiting the HQ of ToonFest, head on over to the community center where the symposiums (panels) will take place, and you can find an art gallery of current and past guests. Not to mention a silent auction featuring art by Alex Maher!
I attended a symposium by Jason Opat, who’s company in Wichita has created computer graphic effects for such films as Spider-Man 3 and Iron Man. This audio will be shared on this week’s episode of The Neverland Podcast, and I’ll share the video later on my YouTube channel.
And of course, no visit to Marceline is complete without a visit to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum where Walt’s sister Ruth has donated many personal family items to view and share including a television provided by Walt so she could see the opening day of Disneyland. Photos are not allowed inside the museum, but it is a rule that I frequently see broken. Some have even filmed video when no one was watching. I will respect the museum and not post any photos or video here, since I don’t break that rule.
I have met people there that had personal interactions with Walt and Roy Disney like Inez Johnson, Kay Malins, and just yesterday, the young boy whom fished with Walt and Roy. You can hear all about him in this episode of The Neverland Podcast as well!
This year, I managed to see the ceremony at Walt’s old Dreaming Tree while I was visiting it and on my way to visit the recreated Barn on the old Disney Farm.
It’s always worth a visit, and I have many more photos from previous visits that I can share, but those will wait for a later post!