A converted barracks on the ground of an old Army fort is probably one of the last places you’d expect to find…well, anything Disney. I certainly expected to find military museums and historic Army buildings, and yes, there are military museums on the grounds of the Presidio but, there is also a hidden gem. The Walt Disney Family Museum sits on the beautiful grounds with spectacular views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. The Walt Disney Family Museum is an amazing collection, cataloging the life of Walt and his family. The exhibits display unique items from childhood up until Walt’s death in 1966.
The museum consists of two separate buildings. The first building periodically changes the focus of the items on display. When we were visiting, the display was all about the timeline of Mickey Mouse. From the earliest hand-drawn pictures and storyboards by Walt himself, to the more modern CGI animations of today. The building is two stories of some of the most unique collection of original Mickey Mouse drawings I’ve come across. Other members of our family visited the museum on a previous trip to San Francisco and the exhibit focused on the different Disney animators throughout the years. Honestly, it does sound a little boring even for the most die-hard Disney fans. Yes, the entire exhibit is all Mickey Mouse but I was blown away looking at all of the original hand-drawn images. This is definitely worth the price of admission alone.
The main building welcomes visitors with an amazing display of all of the accolades awarded to Walt throughout his life. Academy Awards, keys to the city, lifetime achievement awards, and honors from the American Red Cross while in France during World War I. After you’ve entered the exhibit, you follow the timeline of Walt’s life. On display are items from Walt’s personal life. Hanging from the walls are family photos and family heirlooms a spread around the museum. Walt’s time with Laugh-O-Gram is prominently on display including several of his cameras and a behind the scenes look at how some of his most famous works were created. The museum also boasts several hands-on features to keep some of the younger mouseketeers entertained. The employees say to allow around two hours to see both exhibits. However, if you really want to enjoy everything, I would set aside a good portion of the day. The collection is really amazing.
Ok, so I have two notes. The first is that the Walt Disney Family Museum is not directly associated with the Disney Corporation so don’t expect to see too much in the way of new Disney merchandise in the gift shop. The second note is, this really is a place I feel you should see for yourself. I know what you’re saying “this was a short blog” but I really felt, more so than any other blog that I’ve done, you should experience as much of this museum for yourself that you can. I was very pleasantly surprised at how much there is to see and how much I enjoyed the museum. Definitely add the Walt Disney Family Museum to your must-do San Francisco list.
Sean Merritt is a vacation specialist with Coasters and Castles Travel and works with his wife Maria. He grew up going to Disneyland every summer but when to Disney World for the first time in 2015 and since then can’t get enough of it. His favorite thing to do at either location is go to Fantasmic. He would love to help you with all your vacations needs…contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org