When I was in San Francisco, CA for the Disney Pixar Monsters University Event, we got a chance to check out the Walt Disney Family Museum. A huge thanks to Disney for making this possible!
Touring the Walt Disney Family Museum was quite an experience. It is full of Disney history, memorabilia, and information on the legendary Walt Disney’s life. If you have ever wondered how Disney franchise came to be the biggest, best and most magical entity that it is today, this museum can show you.
Located in a historic brick building, once a barracks, on the main post of San Francisco’s Presidio, the 40,000 square foot Museum features the newest technology and historic materials and artifacts to bring Disney’s achievements to life, with interactive galleries that include early drawings and animation, movies, music, listening stations, a 14-foot model of Disneyland and much more. The Museum tells the story of the man behind the myth in Disney’s own voice and in contemporary exhibits that feature state-of-the-art technologies, listening stations, and more than 200 video screens.
There is so much to cover, so I will simply highlight my favorite parts of the Walt Disney Museum Tour. We had a special guide who knew almost everything about Walt: his story, his vision, his dream.
Walt Disney was born in Chicago in 1901. He learned to draw at a young age and took classes, eventually getting a job at an art studio. While working there, he found a passion for animation, starting to create animated shorts with Laugh-O-Gram Films, his very first company before Disney. When it flopped, he moved to California and established Disney Bros. Studios with his brother, Roy.
These are some early sketches and black and white cartoons of Mickey Mouse from the 1920’s. He is Disney’s claim to fame, quite the success even to this day! At first, Walt called him “Mortimer”, but his wife thought that Mickey was a much better name. Lots of early Mickey Mouse trinkets and souvenirs, too.
Original paints used for Disney animated films. Some have names such as “Donald Duck yellow” and even “Cinderella’s dress” on one of the blue paints.
Walt Disney had much success, so much that he took on bigger and better projects. These include the first full length animated film, Snow White, leading to the expansion of Walt Disney Studios and making of lots of military and public service shorts to boost morale during WWII. Lots more films, such as Fantasia, Bambi, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan were the result of this boom in animation.
As Walt Disney continued to create animated and live action films, he wanted to start something new, a place that families could go, have fun and spend time together. Walt had early visions of Disneyland, there are created models of the theme park and railroad track that Walt envisioned in the museum. Lots of these models are true to what Disneyland actually looks like today!
An arial view of the Disneyland concept. Can you see the Matterhorn, Space Mountain and Small World?
Walt Disney passed away in 1966 from complications with cancer. His brother, Roy Disney, made sure to carry out Walt’s dreams and wishes for Disney franchise. His dream and legacy lives on. The photo below is the last room in the Walt Disney Family Museum, it’s a panoramic screen filled area with rotating footage of all of Walt’s past works.
If you are ever in the San Francisco area, you MUST visit the Walt Disney Family Museum. It is so cool to see how Disney came to be the magical super company it is today!
Disclosure: I attended all events on behalf of Disney, travel and lodging was provided. Everything I share is all mine.