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Disney Archives exhibit opens in Reagan Library

July 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
In the kind of fanfare Disney prides itself on, the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit had its grand opening Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, with former first lady Nancy Reagan taking part.

The exhibit marks the unique relationship that the former president and the Walt Disney Company had, starting with Disneyland's grand opening in 1955, which featured Reagan as the master of ceremonies.

"It's actually quite stunning to see, just because not only his youth and knowing what we know he became, but recognizing there was a connection between two extraordinary individuals who kind of embody the American dream," said Bob Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

Inside the exhibit are examples of Reagan's connections with Disney, from appearances at the theme parks, to his likeness featured in the Hall of Presidents.

"Both Reagan and Disney had a work ethic and we desperately need this in this country," said Pam Fritzel-Lipp of Chatsworth.

Outside the Reagan connection, Disney officials call the exhibit a rare glimpse inside the history of the entertainment company. It features costumes from movie classics, supersized props like the Black Pearl from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films and the Nautilus from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," as well as artifacts from the early Disney years, all spanning the nearly 90 years of Disney history.

"More than half the pieces showcased in this exhibit have never been publicly displayed before and the others have very rarely been seen outside of Disneyland or outside the gates of the Walt Disney Studios," said Steven Clark of the Walt Disney Archives.

The exhibit opens to the public Friday and will run for nine months.

Nancy Reagan didn't speak at the grand opening but the Disney crew did have a special treat for the former first lady -- a rousing birthday song. She turns 91 Friday.

Disney is the parent company of ABC7.

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