By TERESA HAMMOND
Every Disney enthusiast owes themself a trip to the Walt Disney Family Museum.
While the younger set may be taken aback by the history and depth of the artist’s life, it is a true testament of Disney’s dedication to his passion and his craft.
Located at 104 Montgomery St. in the beautifully scenic Presidio of San Francisco, the 40,000-square foot building features many artifacts, interactive galleries, as well as movies, music and a display of close to 250 awards earned by Disney during his career.
The Walt Disney Family Museum was first opened in October 2009. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit, owned and operated by the Walt Disney Family Foundation. The museum was founded by Disney’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. The museum is not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company.
Traveling through the varying exhibits, one can’t help but be impressed by Disney’s vision as well as determination as he fulfilled his childhood dream through a love of drawing.
As animation film continues to grow and the Disney empire thrives from shopping and amusement parks, it’s easy for one to forget the dynasty’s humble beginnings through the eyes of an animator.
Upon first entering the museum, visitors are quickly reminded of the master mind’s dedication to his passion and his commitment to creating a career through his dreams.
One might also be fascinated to learn the details of the early creation of the poster child for all things Disney — Mickey Mouse. The first character was created by Disney in 1928, and he also provided the voice for the mouse in the early years.
A total of 10 galleries fill the old brick building, which was transformed to a spacious learning center on all things Walt Disney. No facts were left out, including his early years as a paper boy, as well as entry into the armed forces at the age of 17.
The lessons on Disney the animator begin in Gallery 2 highlighting how his early interest prompted his move to Hollywood in the early 1920s. The galleries continue through to his final years post Disneyland and during the planning of Disney World and Epcot Center, as well as his television endeavors.
Walter Elias Disney was a visionary, tenacious and dedicated. In so being he expected the same of his staff.
The museum is tailored to be a true family experience as there is much to read, discuss, as well as exhibits to exercise a bit of fun and creativity. While animation and story line on the journey of the master is much of the gallery space, the amusement side is not ignored.
Adding to the magic and wonder of all things Disney is the Disneyland and Beyond Gallery complete with a 12-foot diameter model of Disneyland. The details of the model, as well as exhibits which fill the gallery do not fall short of what one would imagine from Disney. The area hosts written facts, displays and video showcasing the park from inception to completion.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is both inspiring as well as enjoyable regardless of age. A true delight for a family trip, going it solo or taking a friend. You don’t truly know Disney until you’ve experienced this one of a kind gem.
IF YOU GO
THE WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM
104 Montgomery St.
(415) 345-6800 or waltdisney.com
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays and major holidays.
Tickets range from $30 for an adult and $20 for youth ages 6-17 for museum admission and one film screening.
Ticket prices range from $25 for an adult and $15 for youth for just museum admission.
Admission is free year-round for active and retired military, their spouses, and dependents with valid ID. The museum also participates in the Blue Star Families program, which grants all active military free admission for themselves plus five additional guests (six people total) between Memorial Day and Labor Day.