San Francisco – Disney Family Museum

We had spent the morning at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.  Our Aunt Shirley, who we were visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday had arranged a tour of the Disney Family Museum at the Presidio.  Before the tour we had wanted to walk the Golden Gate Bridge.  However, a torrential rain storm changed our plans to just a drive across and back. Even with the rain and fog, it was still cool.


We headed to the Presidio, which is a 1,500 acre park that operated as a military post for 218 years.  It is located at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  In 1994, it ended it’s service as a military installation and was transferred to the National Park Service.  In order to preserve the buildings and become financially self-sufficient, many of the barracks have been changed to commercial use.  The Walt Disney Family Museum is housed in Barracks 104.  The museum was dedicated in March of 2014 in memory of the museum’s founder and Walt Disney’s daughter Diane Disney Miller.


In the foyer of the museum is a display of the numerous awards that Walt Disney and the Walt Disney Company have received.  The most recognizable is the Oscar for the Seven Dwarfs.



Walt received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, which is the nations’ highest civilian honor.


Our tour guide was wonderful and went into great detail to tell the history of Walt and Roy Disney.  There are 10 galleries that chronicle the different periods of their lives.


The museum starts with Walt’s childhood.  He was born in Illinois, but moved to Missouri when he was 5 to live on a farm.  It was here that he developed a love for drawing.


Walt lied about his age so that he could join the Red Cross as an ambulance driver during World War I. He arrived in France just after the armistice was signed.


From an early age Walt and Roy were interested in the film industry.


There were displays of their early work


And their first real success Steamboat Willie…


The various Disney merchandise created over the years filled numerous display cases


One area showed how illustrations were drawn and how many were needed for 15 seconds of animation.


Another display showed the various colors used for the different characters.


Numerous original drawings from Show White, Pinocchio, and Bambi were on display.



There was an exhibit of the “modern” camera used to produce the first Animated films.


An exhibit on a production strike that occurred, and another on the informational war movies the Disney Studios produced during World War II.


Lots of movie posters from the movie Cinderella


There is a large window with a view of the Golden Gate, well on the day we were there, it was not a great view.  You could sit on a bench that Walt Disney used to sit on and ponder the development of Disneyland.


One display showed the development of the audio-animatronics for the Hall of Presidents.


And you could even use controls to learn how to make objects move like a bird.


Walt loved to collect things, especially miniatures.


He was very organized and wrote lists of his favorite meals.


His crowning achievement was the development of Disneyland.  The museum has the original plans and models of the rides.


The museum has a scaled version of what Walt wanted Disneyland to look like.  Some of the attractions were built, some never materialized, and some have since been changed.


The last section is a display of tributes to Walt Disney upon his death in 1966.


In the basement of the museum is a model of his home.


The museum’s admission is for a self-guided experience. The tour guide option is only available for groups of 10 or more.  It was awesome and was a great addition to our experience.  After the tour, we went through the museum again as there is so much to see.  It was a great way to end our day in San Francisco.  A trip across the Bay Bridge and we were headed to Aunt Shirley and Uncle Mike’s house.


We had another big day ahead of us…Monterey here we come.