Walt Disney Family Museum Overview, Complimentary Admission Provided…
Good for: Half-day visit, families with older (at least 5th grade) children, adults
Price: $20/adult, $12/child, $15/senior or student, paid street parking
Features: History of Mr. Walt Disney
I’ve driven through the Presidio in San Francisco a few times but had never gotten a chance to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum. That changed just recently, though. Near the lush green lawn, you’ll want to drive slowly as the museum can be hard to miss if not for a few signs displayed outside. We happened to visit on a gorgeous day in the city, which we appreciated even more as we later walked through the glass hallway inside and got this stunning view.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is primarly about the man, Walt Disney, his family, and his life. Obviously, you’ll see some of your favorite characters and movies around but it’s only in reference to Walt’s history. Even as you first walk through the entrance, you see a re-created set with actual furniture from his house and many, many awards. Walt was loved by people just as much as he was the film industry. He was even given a key to San Francisco from the mayor!
I’m not really a museum-type girl and get easily bored with static displays. I’m so glad we had a guide! It was hard to hear her all the time due to taking photos and trailing behind another dozen bloggers but it really made the tour so much more interesting! I missed a lot but I’ll try to tie the bits together the best I can.
Walt grew up in a small town which he loved and that had a huge impact on his life. He always loved drawing and continued to hone his skills through the years. Motion animation was what really intrigued him later on. We had to take the elevator up to the second floor to find out more. It turns out that Walt ended up moving to Hollywood and found some success with the “Alice” series. This series featured a real 5-year-old girl with animation.
Next, Walt moved on to drawing Oswald for Universal. Unfortunately, that turned sour and he was stripped of any rights to the character and animation featuring him. That was when Mickey Mouse was born (he was originally called Mortimer until Walt’s wife suggested Mickey instead). Walt wanted Mickey to surpass Oswald in ways never imagined and showed ambition in having Mickey made into any and all sorts of merchandise. Mickey and his leading lady, Minnie, did just that.
Walt continued to grow his company and produce more short films. With technology changing and the switch to using color, Walt’s animation changed drastically. You can clearly see the difference between the 1931 version of The Ugly Duckling and the 1939 version below. These shorts became more elaborate with music and background but hey were expensive and time consuming.
That’s when the decision to make a full-length movie came about and resulted in Snow White. Production on Bambi came next but having live deer in the studio for drawing reference proved more challenging than originally thought. So another two movies were started and completed before Bambi hit the theaters.
Then times got hard. Walt had long considered his employees as part of his family. No wonder he was so saddened when he saw them picketing outside the company. This led to a brief stint in South America and the creation of The Three Caballeros. After this, World War II ended up affecting Walt’s animation as he expressed his political views through a slew of posters and other paraphernalia.
The war finally ended and it was time for Walt to get back to doing what he loved. Cinderella was the first full-length feature after the war. I love the art style in that movie – so beautiful! More memorable animated movies continued to be released. Live-action movies were also well received. It was quite a treat to see the actual camera used to shoot 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!
We then learned more about Walt and his family. Did you know he had quite the fascination with miniatures? I didn’t. Family played an important role throughout his life and it was evident in all he did until his dying day.
At this point I was wondering just how big this building was. From the outside it seemed so small but the displays just kept going from room to room to room! They really did an outstanding job arranging everything. Due to our hurried tour, we didn’t get a chance to check out the interactive stands. I’ll have to go back to see what those are all about.
Now it was time to see how Walt’s dreams continued to be realized with the creation of Disneyland. It’s pretty astonishing to see the similarities between the mock layout his friend drew one weekend is to what the park looks like today. I loved looking at the huge model of Disneyland with all the moving parts. I’m a bit of a nerd 🙂
Additional displays featured the inspirational art work of It’s A Small World, the model for President Lincoln complete with complications in making The Hall of Presidents, and plan mock-ups of Walt Disney World in Florida, the huge project for which he had been secretly buying land for. Unfortunately, Walt never saw finished project as he passed before that. Walt Disney died on December 15 ,1966. Newspapers from all over paid tribute to the visionary who touched so many lives. Looking at the massive wall full of articles and illustrations, it was both saddening and impressive at that same time.
If you’re ever in the area, love Disney, and would be intrigued by the man behind the mouse, then you owe it to yourself to take a visit here. At the time I was there, a special exhibit of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was being shown but I didn’t have time to explore that. So, you might want to check what the current exhibit is when you come.
All-expense paid press trip provided by Disney/Pixar. No other compensation is being/was provided. All opinions are 100% my own.