The Walt Disney Family Museum

Back in March, I drove all the way from Portland to Anaheim on a road trip to Disneyland with my friends. When planning the trip, we decided the most interesting place to stop for a few days in between would be San Fransisco. Since I have been to the city a few times (my SF travel guide) I thought it would be super fun to try out an area of SF I hadn’t fully explored. 
We settled on staying in the Presidio (more on where we stayed here) and one of the things I insisted on doing was checking out The Walt Disney Family Museum before we drove to Disneyland. I had been once before with my mom but we had a flight to catch and had to rush through each room. I wanted a full day to take my time learning all I could about Walt. 
I picked up this pin on my first trip there and it is sadly no longer available. A ton of you have asked about it, sorry guys!
The building itself is incredibly impressive! It sits in a row of renovated brick buildings (The Presidio used to be a military base) right along the bay. From a glass hallway in the back, you can see the entire golden gate bridge and if its foggy the view is stunning! 
Here are ten things to not miss if you visit!

1. Walts Family History and Childhood

This was something I wasn’t prepared to learn about but was so glad that I did!

 The first room you walk into is all about Walts early beginnings in Missouri. This really resonated with me because we all start out as children, and skills that develop as a child are reflected later in our passions. Anyone who was a “creative kid” in the classroom can relate to the feeling of educational inadequacy and perhaps some minor resistance to our families support of pursuing artistic endeavors. Learning about his family support, early sketches, and his time in the military was a great way to lay the foundation for the rest of his life.

2. The Limited Edition “Seven Dwarfs” Oscar  

Walt received this one-of-a-kind award for the film, “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs” in 1939. The film was regarded as “a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field for the motion picture cartoon.” The award has a main “golden man” followed by 7 “mini golden men” to represent the seven dwarfs. It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen in person and for Walt to receive one from the academy was a very unique honor.

3. The Cafe!

I think the cafe inside the actual museum is often overlooked and forgotten about. There aren’t many places to eat at the Presidio, so we just ate here out if necessity initially and I left very impressed. The pricing (keep in mind this is SF) is very reasonable and its a great place to sit and eat before you hit up the gift shop or explore additional galleries outside of Walts life. I really like the seasonal soups, espresso drinks, and the meatball sandwich! Delicious!

Oh, and they have pretty white tabletops for Instagram photos if thats your kind of thing 😉

4. The First Known Drawing Of Mickey Mouse

This was really incredible to see! To see a rough sketch that would later turn into a globally recognized figure was unreal.

5. Scale Model Of Disneyland

This is a crown jewel of the museum and really gives you a “birds eye” view into what the park looked like on opening day. Walt designed attractions like “Mine Train Through Natures Wonderland” and “Skull Rock” that have since disappeared so its pretty neat to see the original layout of Disneyland.

This is something that I would love to take my father to go see! He visited the park way early in its history so as cool as I think it is, I’m sure he would find it extra cool looking at the park he visited as a child.

6. Interactive Animatronic “Barker Bird”

This was broken the first time I visited and I was so excited to get to try it the second time around. Its a real life animatronic tiki room bird that you can control and it really helps you understand how animatronics operate. What is the difference between a barker bird and tiki room bird? Find that out here

7. “The Bench”

Right as you are about to enter the Disneyland portion of the museum, you will pass by a very famous bench. The bench is the one (or one of the few) that Walt sat on in front of the merry go round in Griffith Park when he first thought of Disneyland. The rumor is that Walt was watching his daughters ride the merry go round without him and thought about how wonderful it would be if there was a theme park where parents and children could have fun and take part together. This thought later formed the idea behind Disneyland.

It makes for a very cute photo op and is the most popular “Instagram” spot in the whole museum!

8. Disney Workers On Strike

I loved how the museum presented Walt in a very human way and his failures were just as emphasized as his success was! His initial failures and roadblocks were also very interesting but I was most interested in the strike of his workers after he created what seemed to be a very successful studio. Walt considered this a “miserable” part of his life and I really liked how it portrayed a message that no one is ever “too big” to fail.

9. The Gift Store

As per usual, any opportunity I have to buy Disney merchandise my money flies out of my wallet faster than you can say “Magic!”

The gift shop is packed with tons of fun stuff for any Disney addict and I really liked the emphasis on other creative artists designing some of the items available! I pick up at least two new things every time I visit, and every time I come back there is stuff I havent seen before which keeps it interesting.

10. The World Mourns Walt Disney

If this room doesn’t make you cry uncontrollably…I don’t know what will. After learning about this mans work and every last inch of his life its impossible not to feel his loss in this room. The walls are surrounded by media headlines publicly mourning the loss of such a creative man and the joy he brought to so many lives. Its incredibly powerful and reflective of just how many people Walt Disney touched.

It really is something to see and I always recommend it to anyone going to the Bay Area or San Fransisco! I would like to thank the WDFM team for accommodating us on our last visit, we had a blast and learned so much. I will definitely be back for a third (and 4th, and 5th, and 6th) visit soon!

xo, Natalie

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