Back in 2009, two awesome things happened:
1. My son was born.
2. The Walt Disney Family Museum was born.
These two births probably had a lot of wide eyes and screaming. Right? And like my son, this museum is not like other museums. It’s not the boring ‘field trip with a monotone docent half-falling asleep as they babble on about facts and statistics’ kind of joint.
This place is radically different than the boring museums you’ve visited before.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in San Francisco’s Presidio district, nestled a stone’s throw from the Golden Gate Bridge. The building itself is a Colonial Revival, and, quite frankly, a place I wish I could call my home. The history of these structures, alone, is worth the price of admission. They were barracks during World War II.
As you walk onto the hardwood flooring of the building’s foyer, there really is no way to know what you are about to discover: a near-chronological story of Walt Disney’s life, from start to finish, told mostly in his own voice.
We see his first baby photos, the barebones life he lived in Missouri, Walt’s earliest sketches of Mickey Mouse, his successes and failures, his accolades and statements from his detractors, ending up at his final hours straight on through to his afterlife with a legacy that has shaped childhoods for decades, then and now.
I found myself pretty quiet for most of it, sort of stunned. I also expected the whole tour to be saccharine and reverent, but I was very pleased by how objective it felt. I got a better sense of the man by getting a multidimensional vantage.
There are touchscreens and interactive games. Scale models of Disneyland itself. Exclusive photos and drawings reside throughout. Handwritten notes and little trinkets on shelves. There is even a bench from Griffith Park where Walt would take his kids to dream up ideas. This bench comfortably supported the butt of a man who would invent Disneyland, as he watched the carousel and heard children laughing.
The man was a force of, if not nature, than something otherworldly. To see it all laid out before me, was like standing at the bottom of a great mountain.
I plan on taking my family there when we go back up North to visit my mom. Though I spent half the day there, I know I could spend several more hours picking through the details like a 49er searching for gold. Or a dad trying to get the diaper poop smell out of his hands.
The Walt Disney Museum website: Go here!
Address: 104 Montgomery Street, The Presidio of San Francisco, CA 94129
Hours: 10am to 6pm, Wednesday to Monday
Favorite foods: Hot sauce and pizza
Favorite number: 6
WORTHLESS TRIP or WORTH THE TRIP?
VERDICT: WORTH THE TRIP!
Our Facebook page. It’s worth the trip, too.