The view from Roberta Long’s white rocking chair on the porch of her Kansas City, Mo., house has taught her it’s a small world, after all.
That’s where she sits and meets people from Europe, California and everywhere in between.
They stop by the house and take pictures at all hours of the day and night. In the summer, buses roll by with more gawkers, Long says.
And it’s all because of the legend who used to live in her home more than 100 years ago — Walt Disney.
“I’m like, are you serious?” she says. “It’s fun because you never know who you’re going to meet.”
Disney, who was born in Chicago, moved to the Kansas City house with his family when he was 9 years old in 1910.
Many of Long’s visitors are people who used to work with Disney as an adult. Others are just people curious about Disney’s childhood home.
If you didn’t already know the two-story brown house at 3028 Bellefontaine Ave. in Kansas City’s east side used to be Disney’s address, you might miss it.
A Mickey Mouse sign in an upper window is one of the only indicators that helps onlookers confirm they’ve reached the right house.
Climbing the tall, interior steps of the old house reveals creaky floor boards and stashes of Disney memorabilia, some of which were gifts from neighbors and visitors over the years.
“This is just a normal house,” Long says, showing off a collection of Disney coffee mugs she keeps on display in her glass curio cabinet. “I happened to grow up watching Disney movies in it.”
But Long’s family, who’s owned the house since at least the 1940s, didn’t know until 1983 that Disney used to live there.
The family learned about the house’s roots in a newspaper article profiling her grandparents, Rebecca and Booker Young, who owned the house at the time.
She said the family since has received multiple offers to buy the house, but they refuse them.
“This is a family-owned house now,” Long says.
Her most fond memories —“big Sunday dinners” and holiday celebrations in the home’s regal dining room with an antique crystal chandelier — have nothing to do with the man behind Mickey Mouse.
But she said her home’s Disney connection has become a sense of pride for her family, particularly for one of her daughters, who has a tattoo of Mickey Mouse. As another summer approaches, Long is gearing up for more days and nights on her rocker.
Asked what she would say to anyone who’s interested in seeing the house after reading this article, Long replied, “You are more than welcome to come by.”
Disney returned to Kansas City and started Laugh-O-Gram Studios in 1920 about 20 blocks away. Read more about efforts that are now in the works to revitalize the animation studio and the role the project could play in transforming Troost Avenue.
This look at Kansas City's east side is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.
We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what's being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences east of Troost with KCUR.