Walt Disney Family Museum Review – Bringing Laughs and Tears of Joy as I Strolled down Disney’s Memory Lane in San Francisco

The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in the beautiful Presidio overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.  The Museum opened in 2009, with 40,000 square feet of interior space, after being beautifully renovated by renowned architect David Rockwell

 

 

 

Kirsten Komoroske, Executive Director of The Walt Disney Family Museum, told me in a phone conversation that this Museum is dedicated to telling the true story of Diane Disney Miller’s father, Walt Disney. Instead of writing a book about her father, The Museum was her way of honoring her father, and the beloved family treasures throughout the spaces speak to that love and honor.

 

*GI

 

 

I was ecstatic a couple of year ago when I found out that there was a “Disney Museum.”  I recently returned, more excited than ever to explore my childhood memories about the art of Disney and the remarkable story of Walt Disney, my childhood hero.

 

 

 

 

The stories of Walt Disney’s life are told in recordings, and motion clips, by Walt Disney himself, shown in ten interactive galleries as you walk through The Museum. Kirsten told me that Diane wanted her father’s `voice’ and spirit to be the guiding light through the museum experience.  

 

 

 

As I walked through the museum so many memories of my own childhood came flooding back.  There are Galleries of Walt’s original drawings, displays of work tables, and reels from various early `Laugh-O-Gram films, as well as the iconic characters; Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy of course.

 

*GI

 

 

*WDFM

 

There are displays of Storyboards, a Multiplane Camera, displays of awards, and a gallery with a fourteen foot diameter model of original Disneyland Park.  As a child, and still today, when I go to Disneyland it’s a safe haven, a place where I feel Happy! Now I have `The Disney Museum’ here in San Francisco and this makes me happy too.

 

 

*WDFM

 

*WDFM

 

Another Gallery displays several “old” televisions sets highlighting TV Shows that  I used to watch, on “Disneyland,” so religiously with my Mom and Dad. I immediately sang along with the theme songs from Davy Crocket, and the Mickey Mouse Club. Also I remembered my first love, `Annette Funicello.’

 

*GI

 

 

Another of my museum favorites during my visit, was the wall of Character Drawings, picturing Disney’s Nine Old Men. The core animators who helped Walt Disney and whom were legends themselves. Respectfully, they were: Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Frank Thomas.

 

*GI

 

 

These nine men were a part Walt’s vision and an intricate part of establishing Walt Disney in the annals of entertainment history.  They were also central to the creation of what are now considered the five most iconic Animated Films in history, including: Snow White and the Seven Dwarf’s (1937), Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942.) The five all drawn by hand, long before the computers and technology of today. At The Walt Disney Family Museum I remembered back to when I had seen each movie, for the first time. Such is the magic of Disney, that as I child I had never realized that they had all come out long before I was born.

 

*GI

 

*GI

 

 

In various interactive screens and displays throughout the museum, I would find myself singing along to the themes of `Old Yeller,’ ‘When You Wish Upon A Star,’ and ‘Song of the South,’ as I was transported back to those wonderful and simple days.

 

*GI

 

 

Televisions in the `old days,’ were actually a part of the furniture in the house. I used to set on the floor in complete rapture, watching my favorite show, “Disneyland.” I remember Walt’s voice on that TV, I felt like he was speaking just to me and I wanted him to keep talking forever.  While strolling through the Museum, it was Deja-vu, I just wanted to hear Walt’s voice, and for him to keep talking forever. 

 

 

 

 

I’ve lost track of how many time I have been to Disneyland, well over two hundred.  My first, real “dream” in life was to be an animator for Disney. Whenever I go to Disneyland, I stop in all the shops, especially those with Disney Art and displays, to look at the art.  The Museum allows me to explore all these amazing animated cartoons, characters, and films, along with their backstory, that have all become so iconic. The Museum treats you to an inside view into the process of how these were made, and how Walt Disney, as young artist from Kansas, was able through sheer dedication and hard work, to create such awe inspiring `Art’ that still today, new generations are seeing these classics as fresh and new, never to grow old.

 

 

*WDFM

 

Walt and his family are represented throughout the museum in photographs, artifacts, and personal home movies, as well as an amazing array of Disney memorabilia. The Museum chronicles Walt Disney’s childhood and we even learn of his father Elias’ work as a carpenter, at the World Columbia Exposition in Chicago, in 1893.

 

 

*GI

 

 

Also chronicled is Walt’s early start in developing live and animated films, exploring early failures openly, and his tireless genius over the decades in elevating animation and creativity to a true art form. The interruption of World War II and Walt’s battle with the Unions as well. Today the Disney name is rightfully one of the most respected names in art and entertainment in the world. Rightfully so, and yet, The Museum is a honorarium to one individual, one man who was a risk taker, an artist, a businessman, who dared to dream bigger.

 

  

Diane Disney Miller’s vision to honor her father Walt Disney, is also a vibrant exciting place to go for new stimulating, fun events, exhibitions, and educational opportunities happening every day.  New exhibitions are announced in May, around Memorial Day each year.

  

Current Exhibitions include:, A beautiful show of artist Mel Shaw, `An Animator on Horseback,’ running through Sept 12, 2016. In another building the fabulous, `Wish Upon a Star: The Art of Pinocchio,’ which to me was so fascinating that I felt completely immersed in the creative process. I will go back soon to see this one again, it runs through January 9, 2017.  

 

 

 

I’m told there will be a very special GALA Fundraising Event for The Walt Disney Family Museum. Official dates and info are not available as of Publication. My little birdie says keep November dates clear! Last year’s First Gala, awarded the Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award to songwriter Richard Sherman. The Event is already said to be one of the highlight events for the San Francisco social elite. All are welcome, and I’m sure its Black Tie Only.

 

 

 

There is also an amazing movie theatre at the museum, which screens new Disney movies monthly. The Fantasia inspired design is a state-of-the-art theatre which seats 114 in plush comfort. I watched two animated classics, Walt Disney’s original `Pinocchio’ and also `Dumbo,’ which were playing full length. Now that I’m becoming a Member I can go see Disney movies all the time.

 

 

 

Ongoing Events include Educational Studio Programs for young artist with camps, classes, workshops, and professional mentoring, to foster creativity and innovation by offering students opportunities to learn, practice and perfect skills essential to the screen arts. The Walt Disney Family Museum offers an in-depth outreach program and there are scholarships available.

 

*WDFM

 

 

Upcoming Events will include ongoing “Talks” by industry professionals discussing animation, storytelling, specific aspects of animation and character development, including perspectives from both creative and technological perspectives.  

 

 

 

Special Events at The Walt Disney Family Museum include: The Big Draw on October 8, 2016, and the Teen Animation Festival, to be held April 29-30, of next year (2017).

 

Alas the most poignant gallery comes near the end, when Dianne Disney Miller talks about her father’s death.  Walt Disney passed away in December of 1966, the year I graduated High School. I remember distinctly, when I heard Walter Cronkite announce Disney’s death on the News, I was devastated. 

 

*GI

 

*GI

 

When Diane Disney Miller brought a warehouse full of family treasures with her, to be stored in a warehouse near the Presidio, it was indeed fortuitous for all of us. With Walt’s love of National Parks, history, and Historical Sites, it was destined that the Presidio was selected for this most amazing of museums.

 

*WDFM

 

 

This is not a staid old library or museum, this is a vibrant, life enhancing experience that tells the story of the amazing life of Walt Disney, and brings to life, new possibilities created with the all too familiar Disney creativity.  Thank you, Diane Disney Miller, for honoring your father and for allowing me and the entire world to share this with you. 

 

*WDFM

 

*GI

 

Diane Disney Miller was the oldest daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney. Diane was born in 1933, and passed away in 2013. Perhaps the true magic of Walt Disney and all he created is that it allows each and every one of us to feel safe, to be happy, too know that we can dream, and no matter how old we become, to feel as though we will never grow old.              

 

I would like to acknowledge Ms. Sweety Ghuman, and Kirsten Komoroske, for their time and help in making his article possible. 

 

The Walt Disney Family Museum is located at: 104 Montgomery Street in the Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129

You can call for more information:  415.345.6800, and go to the official website at   Walt Disney.org

The Museum hours are 10am–6pm. Last entry 4:45pm.

Hours daily except Tuesdays, New Years day January 1st, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas December 25.

One more delightful surprise, especially for San Francisco, that plenty of parking is available at a reasonable hourly cost.

 

*Photographs courtesy of the Walt Disney Family Museum (WDFM), used with Permission.

Photos by Greg Autry, permission granted by  WDFM.

*WDFM - Photos used with permission and provided courtesy of the Walt Disney Family Museum.

*GI - Google Images

 

 

Top of Page

lasplash.com
Join Splash Magazines
Feature Article

Tempflow™ and Tempur-Pedic® Reviews - What 35 Hours of Research Uncovered

Want Your Business to Male a Splash
<!-- #wrapper -->