Visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum

By: Nick Maglio, co-writer of Disney Musings

I’m not even sure where to begin to describe the scope of this tribute to a person who has brought joy to countless millions around the world.
While visiting, one word kept popping into my head. Overwhelming.
I visited the Walt Disney Family Museum located in San Francisco within the Presidio on a dreary Monday, arriving a little later than I’d hoped, about 11:15am.

The museums hours are Wednesday to Monday 10am-6pm, with last ticket sales at 4:45pm. Closed Tuesdays, New Year’s Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving.
If you intend to see everything, you can easily spend the entire 8 hours doing so. Indeed, if you are interested in the special exhibits being held as well, you could dedicate 2 days.
Upon entering, you are greeted by the ticket counter and cabinets containing some of the awards and honors Walt received throughout his all too short of a lifetime.

Venice International Film Festival Trofeo d’Arte della Biennale for Snow White, 1938

Honorary Academy Awards for Snow White

There were also pieces of art that hung in his home found here, and furniture from his apartment in Disneyland.
This is where the word overwhelming first popped into my head!
Ticket prices are $20 for Adults, $15 for Seniors and Students with valid ID, and $12 for children.
There are also different levels of Membership. If I was a California resident, or even within a reasonable distance to San Francisco, I would become a member. There are special programs, films, events, exhibitions and talks through the year. There are monthly film screenings, and “Animate Your Night” after hours museum parties!
Overwhelming.
I paid my $20 to enter, and then heard a young man next to me say he was a D23 Member, and received a $5 discount! I turned to the gentleman who gave me my ticket, and said I too was a D23 Member. He was very gracious in refunding my $5! So if you’re a D23 Member, bring your card!
By the time I was done looking at some of Walt’s accomplishments, it was nearly Noon!
I got lunch at the Cafe which is right next to the entrance. I had a tuna sandwich, which was phenomenal, chips, and an even more amazing cookie. It wasn’t cheap, but it was filling and delicious.
I was now ready to enter the Museum!
The first 2 galleries take you through the beginning of the Disney Family and Walt’s life leading up to his arrival in Hollywood in 1923.
You then take an elevator up to continue.

The following galleries on the 2nd floor take you through stages of his career, including his earliest successes and failures, creation of Mickey Mouse, the Silly Symphonies, merchandise, comics, innoventions, inventions…overwhelming.

   The earliest known drawing of Mickey Mouse!

Cel from the first Technicolor cartoon, “Flowers and Trees”.

Throughout are family photos and momentos from the time period represented.

 Walt and Lillian’s Marriage License

It was now coming up on 3pm, and I was only at Snow White which occupies one whole gallery; and I thought “Uh oh, if I keep going at this pace, I’ll be here until Wednesday!”

I needed a breather. So I walked through the rest of the galleries, just to get an overview. This made things worse!
Again, and I cannot stress this enough, if you are a fan of Walt Disney and want to see and read everything, you will need the entire day, if not two, especially if, like me, you spend time chatting with some of the absolutely amazing employees and other visitors for extended periods of time.
You can also spend an inordinate amount of time taking video and photos.
This is all fine and well, but pacing and planning, like visiting a Disney Park, is important.
I wound up skimming through the early animated features section much quicker than I would have liked; but, as I will absolutely be returning in the future, decided I needed to make a sacrifice.
I picked back up in the World War 2 era.

The gal
leries are so inventively laid out and artistic that you can be caught for extended periods of time just admiring the artistry.

When you come to the long hallway overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, stop and relax a moment. Take in the beauty. Prepare yourself for what is to come.

At the end of this hallway is a bench from Griffith Park where Walt would sit and watch his daughters Diane and Sharon play, which made him think how nice it would be to have a clean park where families could share time together. This started the emotional ball rolling. I sat in it. I burst into tears.

Then you enter a gallery so breathtaking you just need to stop and gawk.

We see Walt’s train, the Carolwood Pacific, the TV era, and the creation of Disneyland.
I was told that the gigantic model of Disneyland represented the years and attractions Walt was personally involved with.
We come to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the many innoventions this brought, and the plans for the Florida Project and Epcot.
Then we come to the inevitable.

No more words need be said. Except maybe one. Overwhelming.


Nick is co-writer of the Disney Musings Blog with his wife, Barbie.


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