Photography by Stephen DeVries
Though Disney fans may differ in their opinions for favorite princess or best villain, it’s likely they will agree upon one thing: A trip to The Walt Disney Family Museum is well worth the time. Located near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the building itself belongs to a group of renovated Army barracks in an area called the Presidio, and though the exterior is a bit unassuming, stepping inside reveals a unique glimpse into the life and achievements of the man who brought Mickey Mouse and so many other memorable characters and inspiring works into the world: the one and only Walt Disney.
Featured in our July/August 2014 issue, the Museum combines history and inspiration in the form of photos, videos, interactive exhibits, and more. We were so taken with our experience that we wanted to tell you about EVERYTHING we saw. For that, we would need a quaint café, good coffee, and a Saturday without a schedule—and since that’s not possible, we’ve got the next best thing: a photographic tour of our Museum moments.
Victorian-inspired backgrounds set the tone in the first gallery where some of Walt Disney’s early work, including editorial cartoons, is on display. Family portraits throughout each room provide personal notes that add dimension to the story of the man behind the mouse.
Walt received an Honorary Academy Award in 1938 for his work on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and the unique trophy featured one Oscar and tiny stair-stepped versions to represent the movie’s much-adored tiny miners. Each gallery in the Museum takes you through a different part of Walt’s journey—it’s like walking in his footsteps!
The green bench at the Museum may very well be the one Walt rested on while dreaming up the idea of Disneyland. It was located in a park where he often took his family, and those outings prompted a desire to create a place where families could gather and spend more time together. We love the way that man dreamed big!
A concept model of Disneyland is one of the top attractions, and if you look closely, you can see crowd favorites like the teacups and carousel. Displaying Walt’s love of the railroad, the Lilly Bell with its cars is another popular feature. This model locomotive was named after his wife, and once ran in his backyard, where children and adults alike could take a spin on it.
During a visit to the Museum, minutes easily turn to hours as you can’t help but stop, look, read, listen, and marvel at the various displays and showcases. Interactive exhibits are located throughout, and some show clips of beloved animation, while others feature audible interviews from those who knew and worked alongside him. For the history buff, these elements color the experience in a Supercalifragilistic way.
If you dig vintage toys and such, don’t miss the collection of Mickey Mouse memorabilia here. From dolls and posters to toothbrushes and record players, cases of collectables inspire fond memories for lifelong Mickey fans. The Museum also hosts classes, events, and special exhibits throughout the year, and it houses a Fantasia-themed theatre in which you can attend lectures and movie screenings. Visit www.waltdisney.org for upcoming events and attractions.