Walt Disney’s Airplane

By Keith Mahne

If you’ve ever experienced The Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, chances are you’ve seen “The Mouse” – a white airplane with a Mickey Mouse icon on its tail. As the tour says, this airplane was used to fly Walt Disney on secret scouting missions over Central Florida when he was looking for the perfect spot to build a second theme park. Continue after the page break for a look inside Walt’s plane…

I’ve always been intrigued by this airplane and the important role it had in Disney history. Walt purchased the Grumman Gulfstream 1 (G1) in 1964, and worked with his wife, Lillian, to select the plane’s interior design and color scheme. (Remember, this was 1960s fashion!). The plane seated 15 and featured a galley, two couches and a desk. Walt even designed his own special seat in the plane, which was in the rear left cabin. The seat was equipped with a special altimeter and air-speed gauge, which Walt added to satisfy his endless curiosity about flying.

The plane’s first trips took Walt and his Imagineers to and from California and New York to oversee the final preparations for Disney’s contributions to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Later that year, Walt began surveying land in Central Florida, considering the site a possibility for his second theme park. (On a side note, the picture of Walt below is one of the very last photos taken of him and is also one of the only times Walt walked on WDW property!)

The plane also led Walt to find inspiration for the look of one classic Disney attraction. According to Mark Malone, son of Walt’s Pilot Chuck Malone, Walt spotted El Morro fortress while flying over San Juan, Puerto Rico, and remarked that it would be the perfect look for his new Pirates of the Caribbean, which at the time was still in the planning phase.



Flight Log from January 1966

Pictured above is a rare look at one of the flight logs used during a trip Walt embarked on for a cross country effort to enlist industry participation in his Epcot dream project in January 1966. He gathered up seven Disney Legends to fly with him on the company plane. The list included Joe Fowler, Joe Potter, Marc Davis, Roger Broggie, Bob Gurr, Lee Adams, and Steve Mulle. Could you imagine being on the plane that day? What a dream come true that would be!

In addition to taking Walt on his secret trips, the plane also took Disney characters on goodwill tours and visits to children’s hospitals around the United States. An estimated 83,000 passengers have flown aboard the plane, including Disney animators and several famous faces, including former Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, as well as Disney Legends Julie Andrews and Annette Funicello just to name a few.

The airplane’s last flight took place Oct. 8, 1992, when it touched down on World Drive, west of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and was added to The Backlot Tour. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52889002-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

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Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. 




Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

You can find all of Keith’s articles here.



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