Walt Disney Family Museum

Get Your Disney Fix at San Francisco’s Walt Disney Family Museum

If your kids (or the kid in you) are clamoring to go see The Mouse, you can head to Anaheim or Orlando and spend a ruinous sum of money, or you can head to the Walt Disney Family Museum here in the city and get your fix on the cheap! There’s no doubt that Disneyland and Disney World are experiences unlike any other, but so is this museum located in our fair city’s beautiful Presidio. This museum is a superb example of the one-of-a-kind cultural institutions found in the Bay Area and well worth a visit whether you have kids or you’re an empty-nester looking for cherished and long-forgotten touchstones of your youth.

This museum is also a must-see for film and animation geeks, as you can see displays featuring the oldest and newest filmmaking technology such as cameras, authentic storyboards from Disney films, stop-motion photography equipment and much more. Essentially, a leisurely stroll through the many galleries allows visitors to view the evolution of filmmaking in general and animation in particular. When you’re a kid staring in wide-eyed wonder at Dalmatians, wicked witches, flying elephants or pail-toting broomsticks toiling away on the screen, you have no appreciation of the amount of skill and talent it took to bring these images to life. However, a trip to the Disney Museum will quickly elicit a healthy respect for that skill and talent as you see the painstakingly drawn and inked prints from those films and how many of these prints it took to provide ten seconds of entertainment.

Other fascinating and occasionally sobering aspects of the museum experience are exhibits that highlight Disney’s perspicacity and the trials and setbacks he experienced over the course of various projects and his life. From the early Steamboat Willie shorts to the stunning technical achievements of his feature-length films, visitors can gain insights into how his vision and resolve helped Disney overcome the formidable challenges of creating these films and marshalling the talent to make it all happen.

It’s fair to say that this museum chronicles the remarkable achievements of one man and the hundreds of supremely talented people who worked with and for him. Their creative output is an integral part of the lives of many millions of people from all over the world from a very early age. If it has been years since you saw a classic Disney film, you will be amazed at how many of these entertainments can still inspire awe and delight long after you thought you had forgotten them.

Lots of people talk about wanting to be a kid again, but very few of them get the opportunity to do so. This transmogrification happens all the time at a magical place called the Walt Disney Family Museum, and there’s little doubt that Walt himself would be awestruck at the reach and scope of his life’s work nearly 50 years after his death. The museum is open every day except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are a very affordable $20 for adults, $12 for kids aged 6 to 17 and free for those 6 and younger. You’ll probably want to go once with the kids and again without them to wander and wonder all over again at your pace. Thanks, Walt.

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