Coke Wall Plaza

Marceline, Missouri is proud that Walt Disney called us his hometown. He lived here for a few years as a kid, and he once said many years later that “More things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since – or are likely to in the future.” That sentiment has given us a proud heritage that we love sharing with visitors from around the world.

Coke Wall Plaza | Downtown Marceline Foundation

One of the attractions of our small town is what we call the Coke Wall – a large Coca-Cola advertisement that was originally painted in 1905 on the side of the Zurcher Building. Walt would have seen this huge mural during his time in Marceline and it’s believed to be his inspiration for the “Coke Corner” cafe at Disneyland.

The large canvas of late-1800s brick was covered in 1917 when a building was erected against that same wall. Sadly, or fortunately for us, that building was destroyed in 2002, revealing the Coke sign once again.

In 2015 mural painters repainted the original Coca-Cola ad that Walt kept in his memory for so many years. The finished project was stunning. The mural became a beautiful backdrop for wedding pictures, prom photos, senior portraits, and selfie-stops for many visitors to our town.

Marceline is located about 2 hours east of Kansas City, and 3 hours west of St. Louis, right in the middle of Highway 36 – also called “The Way of American Genius”, because along that ONE highway is not just the hometown of Walt Disney, but also the birthplace of the Pony Express, home of the Missouri Star Quilt Company, birthplace of JC Penny, World War I General “Blackjack” Pershing, the hometown of Mark Twain, the birthplace of the notorious Jesse James, and even the invention of ‘sliced bread’.

Marceline is a small town of just over 2,000 people. It was originally built by the Santa Fe railroad in 1888 and was a Missouri division point between the east and west coast railroad routes until the mid-1980s. While serious Disney fans from everywhere want to make the pilgrimage to our little town to visit the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, we’re still a small town that wants to grow and attract more visitors, more residents, and more businesses.

One of the strategies for growth is found in our Community Master Plan is centered around Food and Entertainment. This doesn’t just mean having restaurant options, but creating comfortable, fun spaces for people to gather for picnics, games, public events, or even just eating their To-Go orders from nearby restaurants. Downtown Marceline is very lucky to have Ripley Square – a city park right on Main Street and right in the middle of our downtown district. However, there are mainly just benches and a couple of old-style picnic tables at the back side of the park.

Anyone driving into town from highway 36 – as well as those walking through the park – can see the large red Coke Wall mural kitty-corner from Ripley Square. Ever since the building that was blocking the original Coca-Cola ad came down, the empty space in front of that wall has been part concrete and part grass. This is where we hope to create a new outdoor space – right on Main Street USA – and call it the “Coke Wall Plaza”.

The plan is to remove the old wooden railing and extend the existing concrete pad all the way to the end of the Coke Wall. This would create a patio 58 feet by 39 feet right in front of the mural, with the sidewalk between the plaza and a grassy area facing the road. Also in the plan is to add several large outdoor tables and chairs, as well as string lights and a sliding canopy above the height of the Coke Wall mural, so that the visual experience is kept intact. This would make a perfect place for eating, playing games, visiting, and maybe even as a band stand or other outdoor venue for residents and public events.

Walt Disney once said, “You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world – but it takes people to make the dream a reality.” He was talking about Disneyland, but we believe the same thing in Marceline.