In the shadow of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge lies San Francisco’s historic Presidio. Formerly a military base, the Presidio is now home to several visitor centers and interesting sites. Of these, the Walt Disney Family Museum is on the “must see” list for anyone visiting the Presidio and San Francisco.
The Walt Disney Family Museum
Looking out over the Presidio’s parade ground, the Walt Disney Family Museum is dedicated to the life and legacy of its namesake. Whether or not you grew up with a love of Disney, the museum is a great way to spend a few hours in San Francisco. Co-founded by Disney’s daughter Diane, the museum takes visitors on a journey through Walt’s life. It features 10 permanent displays, starting with Walt’s family history and ending with his death from cancer in 1966. The museum also houses a collection of the 200-odd awards Walt Disney won during his life, including several Oscars.
Permanent Walt Disney exhibits
The permanent displays at the Walt Disney Family museum offer something for everyone. There are original plans and drawings by Disney, colorful animated clips, and more artifacts than you could count. Every way you turn there’s something new to see, with plenty to look at for children and adults alike. When I went, the children seemed to be enjoying it just as much as the adults and vise versa, although they gravitated toward different parts of each exhibit.
Changing Disney exhibits
Along with the 10 permanent exhibits, The Walt Disney Family Museum also has an area for non-permanent exhibits. Currently, there is a special showing of “Down the Rabbit Hole,” a collection of paintings by artist Camille Rose Garcia. The exhibition runs through November 2013, and is a new take on the art of the Disney classic Alice in Wonderland. Past exhibitions have included everything from Snow White to Christian Louboutin.
Fantasia-inspired movie theater
If you need to take a break from walking around the museum, stop for a moment in the Fantasia-inspired movie theater on the bottom floor. There, the museum has daily screenings of classic Disney movies. After exploring the exhibits dedicated to Walt Disney and his work, it’s hard to resist.
Of all Walt Disney’s work, perhaps none is better known around the world than Disneyland. It was the crowning jewel of Walt’s Disney empire, and is more popular now than he could have possibly imagined. As such, a large part of the Walt Disney Family museum is dedicated to Disneyland, and how it came to be (the inspiration for the entire park came from a train he had installed in his home). From footage of the early days of the park to an incredibly detailed 12-foot round scale model, anyone who’s heard of Disneyland can appreciate this part of the museum.
The so-called “Disney magic” is present at every turn, from Mickey Mouse and his earliest form (Steamboat Willie) to Walt’s visions for EPCOT and beyond, the Walt Disney Family Museum is a great place to visit for anyone who has ever seen a Disney film, been to Disneyland, or just enjoys movies and history in general.
Most people have seen at least one Disney animated feature, whether it be classics like Snow White or more modern flicks like Tangled. However, you don’t have to be a fan of Disney movies to enjoy the Walt Disney Family Museum. When it comes down to it, Walt Disney was just a struggling artist who eventually found success doing what he loved. Walt Disney was a fascinating person with an interesting story, who happened to create one of the most successful media empires of all time. The museum bearing his namesake celebrates the years of both struggle and success, and everything in between.
If you find yourself wanting a snack during your visit, the museum café has several options. However, these are a little on the expensive side, so I recommend bringing your own snacks or grabbing a bite in one of the restaurants or cafes in the Presidio. For souvenir collectors, the Walt Disney museum also has a gift shop.
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @WDFMuseum on Twitter.
If You Go:
The Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street
The Presidio, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94129
Open Wednesday-Monday: 10am-6pm
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