Visit a Disney Parks Graveyard in the Heart of the Midwest

in Disney Parks, Movies & TV

Disney Mold-O-Rama Machines and Mike and Sulley figures on display at the Volo Museum.

Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

On display at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois, is one of the most extensive and fascinating exhibitions of Disney history in the United States. Inside the Magic recently visited the sprawling 63-year-old museum featured in the History Channel reality series Volo, House of Cars (2017).

The Walt Disney Archives undoubtedly has the most extensive collection of Disney artifacts worldwide. Still, this combination of automobile museum and collector car dealer gives the Mouse’s historic department a run for its money. The Walt Disney Company is protective of its secrets– demanding its intricate in-store displays featuring Disney characters be destroyed, keeping Walt Disney World parade vehicles locked in far-away garages… but somehow, the Volo Museum finds them.

Belle, Beast, 'The Lion King', and Ariel statues on display at the Volo Museum.
Credit: Volo Auto Museum

Want to see the vehicles that once drove down Main Street, U.S.A., or chauffeured Barbie throughout EPCOT Center? Beyond the antique car museum’s Jurassic Gardens, vintage carousel, and historic Chuck E. Cheese animatronic collection lie pieces of Disney memorabilia, sure to delight fans of all ages.

Getting to the Volo Auto Museum

The Volo Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with admission ending at 4 p.m. It’s best to arrive early, as most guests will need at least two to three hours to take in each Disney gallery, hundreds of collector cars, and the rest of the museum.

A Minnie's Jammin' Jungle Parade truck, which is bright green and bright blue, on display.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

Ticket prices range from $22.95 per adult to $12.95 per child twelve and under. Student, military, and senior discounts are available. Guests can purchase tickets online or at the admission counter at the museum’s start.

You don’t have to travel in a classic car, but you’ll need to drive to the Volo Auto Museum. Metra train service is available from Chicago and neighboring suburbs, but guests will need to hail a cab or rideshare from Fox Lake Station to the museum. Parking is free.

Disney Parks, Disney Store Artifacts on Display

If you’re nostalgic for the 1990s Disney Store experience, the Volo Auto Museum is the place for you. The Disney Gallery includes more than a dozen larger-than-life figures crafted for Disney Stores nationwide that collectors saved from demolition.

Disney Store displays of the 101 dalmation puppies and Genie from 'Aladdin' at the Volo Museum.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

The salvaged Disney character statues depict Mickey Mouse from Fantasia (1940), characters from Aladdin (1992), Peter Pan, the Seven Dwarfs, Belle and the Beast, a scene from The Lion King (1994), Ariel, puppies from 101 Dalmatians (1961), The Three Little Pigs, and Dumbo.

“All of the characters on display were built by Disney for elaborate displays at their Disney Stores, they were never meant to make their way into public hands,” the museum explains. “Disney decided to remove the displays to make more room for merchandise. All of the characters were supposed to be returned to Disney and ultimately destroyed. Luckily some made their ways into the hands of collectors to be enjoyed by future generations.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Volo Auto Museum without a car or two. Walt Disney World Resort cars on display include Barbie’s custom pink 1970 Cadillac deVille, used at EPCOT in the early 1990s, and two vehicles from Minnie’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

A polka-dot red vehicle from minnie's jammin jungle parade and a pink cadillac used by Barbie at EPCOT.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

The Volo Museum also owns two life-size Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater replicas inspired by Pixar’s Cars (2006). It’s unknown where the museum sourced these vehicles and if Disney ever owned them.

Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater life size cars on display.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

Disney Mold-A-Rama’s

Some of the Volo Museum’s rarest Disney artifacts are its three Mold-A-Rama machines. Created to promote Disneyland Resort at the 1964 – 1965 New York World’s Fair, the Disney theme parks stopped using the machines due to minor imperfections with each individually molded toy.

Amazingly, all three Volo Museum’s “Disneyland Toy Factory” machines are still functional. For $10 (cash or credit), guests can watch a Disney-branded Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or Goofy plastic figure come to life before their eyes.

A Mickey Mouse mold-a-rama with its face melted off.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

We purchased Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck… and we’re starting to see why Disney didn’t want guests using these machines. Our Mickey Mouse’s face was completely melted off! Luckily, the admission counter was happy to exchange the figure for a less terrifying version at the end of our visit.

Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse Mold-A-Rama statues.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

These antique machines aren’t car-related but remain one of the Volo Museum’s most famous artifacts. They’re the only three known to exist in public collections worldwide. At D23 Expo 2014, Disney displayed a functional Disneyland Toy Factory from the Walt Disney Archives–but the Mold-A-Rama machines have otherwise never been available to the public.

“The Disneyland Toy Factory is unlike any other Mold-A-Rama mold-making machine,” the museum writes. “It’s a rarity and Disney characters separate them from the rest!”

Disney, Star Wars, & Other Movie Vehicles to See at the Volo Museum

Multiple 'Star Wars' props, including a spaceship, Stormtrooper, and R2-D2 are on display.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

More of a movie buff than an auto fan? The Volo Museum has the cars for you. The film vehicle display includes more than just Disney and Lucasfilm– there’s something for everyone!

A vehicle used in 'Indiana Jones' on display.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

One of the most adorable cars on display is the affectionate lovebug from Herby: Fully Loaded (2005). Visitors can even get a pressed penny inspired by the beloved beetle or his neighbor, Tow Mater… though we’re not sure these souvenirs are Disney-approved!

Herby the car on display next to a set of pressed pennies available for purchase inspired by different cars at the Volo Museum.
Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

The Volo Museum is located at 27582 Volo Village Rd., Volo, Illinois. Check the museum’s website for updated hours, ticket prices, and relevant holiday closures.

Have you ever visited the Volo Auto Museum? Share your favorite Disney artifact with Inside the Magic in the comments!

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