This week marks the 88th anniversary of the premier of “Steamboat Willie,” the fist cartoon with synchronized sound, at New York’s Colony Theater. The short is considered so important in Disney history that its November 18th release date has long been considered the official birthday of its star, Mickey Mouse. The iconic image of Mickey steering the boat, which as since become part of the logo of Walt Disney Animation Studios, has also appeared across Walt Disney World in a variety of ways. At Magic Kingdom, for example, you could at one time get your picture taken in a recreation of this scene.
“Main Street Exposition Hall” was a Kodak-sponsored exhibit on Main Street USA from 1998 to 2010, and among its activities were several photo opportunities based on Disney films, including this one featuring Mickey and Pete inspired by “Steamboat Willie.” However, the main attraction was a small theater presenting “Milestones in Animation,” a continuous collection of groundbreaking Disney shorts from the 1920’s and 1930’s, one of which was, of course, “Steamboat Willie.” While these particular references to Mickey’s official debut have disappeared from Main Street, there is still a great photo opportunity for fans of Disney’s big cheese in the building that was once the “Exposition Hall.” Today, it is home to “Town Square Theater,” where guests can visit Mickey Mouse’s dressing room to meet, get a picture, and even share a conversation with a superstar who got his start on a steamboat back in 1928.