We all need to dream a little and 2020 has certainly been the year to do that more than most. While visiting San Francisco last year I visited the Walt Disney Family Museum which celebrates one of life’s ultimate dreamers, Walt Disney. For any adult Disney fan, this is an accessible San Francisco attraction not to be missed.
WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM
I’ve always been fascinated with Walt Disney, I don’t mean the brand, I’m referring to the man who created Mickey Mouse and friends and built Disneyland. He was a visionary who has brought much joy to the lives of so many, but I often feel the man behind the phenomenon has been forgotten, despite the Disney name and legacy carrying on long after his death. The Walt Disney Family Museum celebrates the man and all he created. It takes you on a journey from his childhood, his career highlights and struggles, his role as a father and the world’s reaction to his death.
We became Disney fans long ago. Disney nudged it’s way into our hearts in a fairly spectacular way. I was entrenched in therapy five days a week with BJ and progress was slow. I needed something outside therapy and started entering competitions I came across in the hope of getting a little surprise in the mail one day. Our surprise came by way of a phone call from New Idea magazine to say we’d won $3000 worth of Disney products. Large boxes arrived by courier and we had so much fun unpacking them. BJ was delighted with the many versions of Mickey, Minnie and friends. The Disney toys were a motivator for therapy with BJ playing with the cars, doing various physio exercises with Mickey and Minnie by his side and learning to manipulate the push button toys over time. As a parent it gave me great joy to see BJ’s love for the characters grow and the motivational powers they had certainly helped me with getting through all the therapy ‘homework’. As BJ grew up he started to enjoy Disney movies, of which I think we have nearly every one. The movies helped us through sickness, early morning wake ups and continue to bond us as a family when we head to the movies to enjoy the latest offering.
When we won a trip to Disneyland in 2011 our dreams really did come true and it further solidified our relationship with Disney. As we walked around the park Walt Disney’s dream for the park was highlighted with quotes from the man himself.
Much like Disneyland, the Walt Disney Family Museum takes visitors on a journey. Instead of moving through different lands, visitors move through galleries reflecting the many eras of Walt Disney’s life. From his childhood hometown of Marceline, Missouri to his work in animation it’s all on display in the museum. For a Disney fan like myself, several hours are needed to really enjoy and absorb Walt Disney’s story.
Early sketches reveal the history of animation prior to the technology used today.
The various iterations of Mickey Mouse are displayed and I have to say, some of the early Mickey character costumes used at Disneyland would have had me running away rather than approaching for a Mickey hug. Over time Mickey and Minnie definitely improved.
Although the museum celebrates Walt Disney, the people who helped bring his characters to life are also remembered including sketch artists and various actors who voiced Mickey and friends over the years.
It’s interesting to hear the subtle differences in the voices of the actors who played Mickey.
Multimedia is used throughout the galleries to ensure visitors have an interesting and varied experience as they make their way through the museum.
For a real Disney fan, there’s an incredible amount of information and memorabilia to take in. I took a break in the cafe to refresh so I could make my way through as much as possible in the time I had.
Various artists may put their own stamp on Mickey but he’s lovable every which way and continues to bring joy to so many to this day.
I spent quite a bit of time reading the messages written by fans about what Disney means to them.
It’s a reminder that the cartoons, movies and Disneyland are more than just entertainment for people. It’s memories, encouragement and inspiration to so many, including our family.
One of my favourite areas of the museum is the gallery dedicated to Disneyland and the scale model with its intricate detail.
When we’ve visited Disneyland I’ve always been in awe of the tiny details to be found in every corner of the park and the scale model of the park is no different.
A Small World is truly small in the scale model but fear not, you won’t spend the rest of the day with It’s a Small World song playing in your head as it isn’t playing here.
Although Walt Disney faced financial crisis in the early days as he brought Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to cinemas he persevered and his work was acknowledged with awards. Many of which are on show at the Walt Disney Family Museum.
Walt Disney’s untimely passing was covered around the world with animations depicting the sadness so many must have felt.
I absolutely loved being immersed in the world of Disney in a completely different way at the Walt Disney Family Museum. I’m so pleased history and memorabilia has been preserved for generations to come.
AJ recently received a gift from a teacher at school and amongst other items there was a black pen. In the note accompanying the gift there was a reminder that Walt Disney started with just a black pen. What a good reminder that dreams can grow from simple beginnings and passion.
WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM ACCESSIBILITY
Accessibility throughout the Walt Disney Family Museum is excellent. Ramp access is provided to the entry of the museum and spacious areas in the various galleries makes circulation for wheelchair users easy.
The gift store has a range of items not sold elsewhere, including Disney pins.
I particularly like the children’s book I bought there which tells the story of Walt Disney in an easy to read format with lovely illustrations.
Accessible stand-alone bathrooms are provided throughout.
An elevator provides easy access for moving between levels.
I was a guest of the Walt Disney Family Museum but as always my opinions are my own. This is one must-see attraction if you’re a Disney fan.
If you’re visiting San Francisco in the future you may also enjoy the following –
Access & Inclusion at San Francisco Airport
Creativity Explored – Accessible Art San Francisco
Susan Gutterman says
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have visited the museum several times. I’ve learned about Walt Disney and his family and found the part that the company played in WWII very fascinating. The setting on the grounds of the Presidio is also lovely.
It’s a fantastic location for the museum and as you say, fascinating.