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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Walt Disney Family Museum

     My most recent post was announcing Diane Disney Miller's passing a couple weeks ago. Today, I will cover one of her most well known achievements, the Walt Disney Family Museum
Yes, I was very excited to be there.
     On a weekend trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley in September, we made a stop to see the Walt Disney Family Museum. The museum is in the Presidio just off of San Francisco Bay with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio is a former US Army base that has been converted to a multi-purpose historic preservation zone. The museum building was formerly an army barracks that was built in the 1890's that has been beautifully restored. 
A cartoon Walt drew for his high school paper.
Courtesy of the Walt Disney Family Museum
     The museum houses 10 galleries dedicated to Walt's life. The first one covers Walt Disney's childhood, family, early jobs, his first cartoon doodles, and some home videos Walt filmed himself. (Walt Disney fact: Did you know Walt had 3 other siblings besides his more famous brother, Roy?) In the next gallery Walt goes to Hollywood with a brief case and a few dollars to his name. Here you discover his earliest cartoons including the Alice Comedies, Oswald the Lucy Rabbit, and of course Mickey Mouse!
The earliest known drawing of Mickey.
Courtesy of the Walt Disney Family Museum
    The next several galleries look at the history of the Walt Disney Studios, starting with cartoon shorts of Mickey and the gang. Here you discover the making of the fab five and techniques in animation. In the adjacent gallery you see the formation of Walt's first feature length cartoon, Snow White followed by Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi and more. Also, there are very interesting sections which focus on the 1941 animator's strike and the effect of World War 2 on the studio.
A bracelet worn by Lillian Disney at the Snow White premier.
Courtesy of the Walt Disney Family Museum
   Next up is a small area that shows Walt's life as a loving husband and father. You learn about Lillian and Walt's courtship, their two daughters Diane and Sharon and their home life, including a menu for their chef written by Walt that specifically states "No vegetables!" (Walt Disney Fact: Did you know Walt's youngest daughter Sharon was adopted?) In this room you will also find gifts Walt gave his girls and their wedding videos.

    On the way to the next gallery, you pass a huge picture window overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Be sure to take in the views as seen below in my photo. Plus, there is an original Griffith Park bench where Walt sat on the weekends while his daughters rode the carousel and he planned Disneyland.

    The last two galleries were my favorites. Gallery 9 details Walt's creation of Disneyland and the beginnings of Walt Disney World. The room is huge and has an amazing entrance the winds down to a lower level with a large model of Disneyland. There are historic ride posters, attraction models, early sketches of the Jungle Cruise and much more. The Disneyland model is the main showpiece of the room. It contains attractions both past and present and includes the tiniest details of the park.
My picture doesn't do it justice, see the official museum photo below.
The Disneyland model at the Walt Disney Family Museum.
    The final gallery is an area depicting the impact of Walt's untimely death. Here you can read newspaper clippings, telegrams from Hollywood's elite, and watch news reels covering the period surrounding his passing. This room is very quiet and respectful of the man who influenced so many people around the world.
A telegram from Dr Wernher Von Braun. I'm a huge space nut and knew the he consulted
 with Walt Disney on his many TV series about space.
    If you are ever in the San Francisco area I highly recommend visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum. The museum is full of one of a kind original works by Walt and his artists at the Studio. There are numerous interactive displays with games, audio of Walt, videos of his family and much more. The museum layout was well planned and the most beautiful exhibit I have ever visited. We spent about 3 hours on our tour and I could have stayed longer if we didn't have other commitments. If your a casual fan 3 hours should do it. However, if you are a super fan then give yourself 5 to 7 hours. I could visit several times and still discover items I didn't see the previous time. So make a special trip if need be and see the Walt Disney Family Museum!

If you are looking for other things to do on your trip, check out my post on the Lasseter Family Winery.

If you are reading this post on December 5, then click the Amazon link on the right to access great deals on Disney games, books, movies, toys, clothes and more.

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