I was invited to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum as part of an all expense paid press trip with Disney. All opinions are my own.
When I was in San Francisco last month for the Inside Out Event, I think the activity I enjoyed the most was The Walt Disney Family Museum. Spending a couple of hours there wasn’t enough for me, and now I can’t wait to go back and take my family. We were able to take a tour through the museum with a guide, but you can also pick up a headset and go on a self-guided tour. I highly recommend the headset as you will learned so much.
We began in Walt’s Early Years, learning about his childhood and those days when he was just starting out as a starving artist. I had no idea Disney moved from Kansas City to California when he was 21, with just $40 in his pocket! He sure was an adorable baby!
Working our way through the Hollywood Gallery, we learned the story about Walt starting Disney Bros. Studio with his brother Roy. It was during this time that Walt created Mickey, the mouse who started it all.
The New Horizons Gallery was filled with the emergence of Walt Disney Studios. Fans of Disney will be fascinated to learn about the creation of the first three‐strip Technicolor cartoons. This is where Walt Disney took animation to a new level.
One of the greatest accomplishments if the Walt Disney Studio was the creation of the first full length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There is an entire gallery dedicated to the drawings, photos, and awards from the Snow White film, including a standard size Oscar® and seven miniature castings.
Continuing through the museum you’ll see original pieces from the early days at the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank, like multiplane camera cranes, an animator’s desk and rare production art. It was during this time that Walt Disney Studios produced Bambi, Pinocchio and Fantasia. And all through the museum, you’ll see photos like this one, where Walt was celebrating a birthday with his family.
It really is like peeking inside the life of Walt Disney. After seeing the famous Thorne exhibit of miniatures at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, Walt became fascinated with them, collecting and constructing the small pieces. You’ll see his fabulous collection of miniatures that were just added in the past few years. It’s said that some of the miniatures led to bigger things, like rides at the Disney parks.
Your younger kids will love the museum, too, as they will find interactive exhibits along the way.
And everyone will love Lilly Belle, the scale model locomotive Walt helped build and install. It ran on a half–mile track around his home, and is now housed in the museum.
The final gallery you pass through is a tribute to Walt Disney. Walter Elias Disney died on December 15, 1966, at just 65 years old. It is said that even up until he was close to death, he had a projector screening film on the ceiling so he could continue to create. You can’t help but cry as you read some of the beautiful condolence letters sent after his death.
Look at the tears from a few our favorite characters.
By the way, don’t miss the area that features Tomorrowland! I’m sure you know that the movie, Tomorrowland, rated PG and hitting theaters this Friday, May 22nd, is based on Walt’s vision for a utopia like you’ll see in the film.
If you’ve been on the Carousel of Progress, at both Disney parks, you know Walt Disney also had a fascination with what tomorrow would bring. I just rode Carousel of Progress again when I was at the park for the Monkey Kingdom Event, and each time I discover something I hadn’t seen before. I think that’s just the way Walt wanted it.
Walt Disney was always intrigued with transportation, and gave his firstborn grandson Chris this Autopia Car. It was kept at the studio, and on the weekends the kids would drive it all over the back lot.
Check out the trailer for Tomorrowland!
Be sure to check out the calendar of events before you go as the Walt Disney Family Museum has a lot of special events. Right now they are featuring Lights! Camera! Glamour! The Photography of George Hurrell, and the film of the month is Fantasia with showtimes at 1:30 and 4:00 each day. The Museum has a lot of educational resources, too. Every Saturday and Sunday you’ll find open studios, including a special class just for little ones!
By the way, if you’re hungry while at the museum, the cafe is fabulous! Make sure you get dessert!
The Walt Disney Family Museum is located at 104 Montgomery Strett in San Francisco, California. Hours are 10 am to 6 pm every day except Tuesday when they are closed. You can call them at (415) 345-6800, or visit their website at The Walt Disney Family Museum.
I’d love to read your thoughts about the museum or other places to visit for Disney fans! Share your favorite Disney destination!
If you’re looking for more things to do while in San Francisco, check out these 20 quirky, fun and trendy places to explore!