Palm Springs Air Museum to Host Viewing Party for `The Mouse’ Plane

City News Service

(CNS) – The Palm Springs Air Museum will host an exclusive private viewing party Saturday for Walt Disney’s Grumman Gulfstream I plane, known as “The Mouse,” which will travel from Anaheim to Palm Springs.

The viewing party will be held at the air museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with drinks and light hors d’ouevres, according to a statement from the air museum. Admission for the general public will be $50.

“We are so happy to have Walt’s plane make a `landing’ at the Palm Springs Air Museum, just a few miles from where Walt and his family had vacation homes at Smoke Tree Ranch,” said Walt Disney Archives director Rebecca Cline. “It is the ideal setting for this incredible icon.”

The plane will join the air museum’s collection on display for the general public starting Sunday, museum officials said. A new exhibit will also be constructed by Dec. 5, Walt Disney’s birthday, to highlight the plane’s history and its relevance to Palm Springs.

The exhibit will feature Disney’s favorite seat, where he monitored flight conditions, and a telephone handset he used to communicate with the pilot, organizers said.

Disney reportedly started shopping for his own plane in Summer 1960 after becoming disillusioned with commercial air travel.

“The Mouse” was initially designed with creative input from Disney and his wife, Lillian, to seat upward of 15 passengers and include a kitchen, two restrooms, two couches, a desk and various Mickey Mouse-inspired details.

He acquired the plane in 1963 and among other trips, used it to scout locations for what eventually became the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The aircraft was moved to Orlando in 1985 and was eventually put on display as part of the Studio Backlot Tour at what is now Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park at Disney World.

Before the plane was decommissioned in 1992, it flew 20,000 hours and transported 83,000 passengers including Disney stars Julie Andrews and Annette Funicello and US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. It also appeared in at least two Disney movies, “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” in 1969 and “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t” in 1971.

After the Orlando tour closed in 2014, the plane was stored at a nearby field where its condition deteriorated.

It has now been restored by Walt Disney Imagineering and the Walt Disney Archives and was re-introduced to the public in September during the D23 Expo 2022, an annual gathering of Disney fans in Anaheim.

“This little beauty has been basking in the Florida sun for about the last 40 years,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek told the D23 Expo crowd. “It’s going to essentially go back to its roots.”

Guests who visit the air museum will be able to learn about the plane’s role throughout The Walt Disney Company’s history, which includes some ties to the desert.

The air museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

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