‘Walt Disney Family Museum’ in the Presidio of San Francisco, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Open 10am–6pm daily, except Tuesdays, January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25 Last entry is 4:45pm
Tickets available for purchase online or on the door
Price: Adult: $25 Senior (65+): $20 Student (i.d): $20 Youth (6 - 17): $15 Children under 5: Free with Adult Admission Buy Tickets
The ‘Walt Disney Family Museum’ is an American museum that sets out to intimately & broadly feature the life, achievements & legacy of the one & only Walt Disney. The ‘Walt Disney Family Museum’ is a non-profit organization that was established by Disney family heirs. It is not formally associated with the Walt Disney Company, & in fact the museum is entirely separate from the media & entertainment enterprise that bears the iconic Disney logo.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is perhaps not what immediately comes to mind when one thinks of ‘Disney’. Rather, the 40,000 square foot space utilizes the newest technology, historical materials & artifacts to tell the story of a man who was, before anything else, a storyteller himself. With a seemingly never ending supply of ingeniously interactive audiovisual galleries that masterfully weave together Disney’s early drawings, animation & movies for the audience to grasp & follow the blossoming career & life of this genius & visionary.
As a professional animator & life long Disney fan & devotee, this museum is an absolute treasure trove for me, with every room, every corner of the museum providing me with enough awe & inspiration to make me feel capable of creating & achieving anything I set my mind to do.
“Somebody was paying me $50 a month to draw pictures!”
– A truly flabbergasted Walt Disney
Seeing with my very own eyes the actual actual cameras & equipment used by Disney, including a fully fitted out traditional animators desk, made me positively giddy.
Needless to say that I stood, jaw on ground, struggling to breathe as I took in the majesty that is the original multi-plane camera used to make ‘Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs’.
I knew from the minute I stood in the foyer before we stepped into the actual exhibition itself that one afternoon spent in the museum would be nowhere near long enough to truly & adequately indulge in all that was on offer, but alas, as a non-local, I tried. The museum is split into ten permanent galleries & are in chronological order, which not only makes it easy to navigate, but also helps on returning to the museum for subsequent visits.
Beyond the awe & ‘Wow!’ moments, there are many parts of this museum & its exhibits that are genuinely moving. From reading the handwritten notes of camera technicians, animators & painters, gives us insight into the fact that not only was there a staggering amount of physical work that went into Disney productions, but also, perhaps most importantly, every single individual involved in production had such an unwavering passion & dedication for every part of what they did, & without a doubt shared Walt Disney’s own philosophy of constant experimentation & pushing & testing the medium to its absolute limits, & then some more.
While some individuals who visit the Walt Disney Family Museum will be disappointed there are no traditional Disneyland style rides to be found, I agree with Edward Rothstein’s opinion that the museum is itself a ride in its very own right:
“The museum does just what Disney thought a ride should do when he created Disneyland more than half a century ago: it tells a story. And while the museum is almost leisurely in relating its narrative, only here & there veering into uncharted terrain, & while children will quickly passby many sections that will fascinate their elders, there are more than enough thrills for everyone.”
-Edward Rothstein, The New York Times
If you only have time to visit one Museum while visiting San Francisco, I would without a doubt recommend a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum. You will leave not only knowing more about one of the best storytellers who ever lived, you will find a renewed inspiration in your outlook on life & see colors where you never saw them before.
There truly is magic in the air when it comes to this man & his work..
P.S. Happy 89th Birthday Mr. Mickey Mouse!