A Walk Down Memory Lane at The Walt Disney Family Museum


Disney museum

In the heart of the Presidio of San Francisco, you will find The Walt Disney Family Museum.  This museum features 40,000 square feet of artwork and memorabilia that belongs to the Disney family. If the thought of visiting a museum in an exciting city like San Francisco sounds boring, think again!  The unique exhibits are a must see for any Disney fan.

Cinderella drawings

Original drawings of Cinderella

As you walk through the museum, you will catch a glimpse of the lives of Walt Disney and some of his closest family members.  The exhibits are mostly chronological and as you travel from room to room, you will experience the moments that brought triumphs and setbacks in the realization of Walt Disney’s dream.  While many of us know a thing or two about the ultimate success of the Disney company, the museum gives some real insight into all that occurred to make Walt’s dream a reality.

First Mickey

First known drawing of Mickey Mouse


Steamboat Willie

The animation of Steamboat Willie

Inside, you will find original drawings, Disneyland plans and models, sound recordings, and even Walt’s own collection of miniatures. Many of your favorite characters make appearances in the artwork displayed throughout the building.   Are you an Oswald fan?  You will certainly have the opportunity to see how he fits into the story.

You could manage to pass through the museum in an hour, but you would most likely miss a lot of what it has to offer.  There is a good bit of information to read as you walk through, so be sure to allot enough time to move through at a leisurely pace.  We spent 2-3 hours just taking it all in.

Bambi drawings

Walt brought live animals into the studio for the animators to study and observe. This innovative technique helped to give his artists a new perspective, and as a result, they were able to create drawings that were more life-like.

Disneyland model

Working model of Disneyland

In addition to the permanent displays, there are special exhibits that change throughout the year. The current exhibit is All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt’s Trains.  This exhibit will run until February.  There are also films shown twice per day that change monthly.  If you would like to view the current film, be sure to plan your visit to allow time to walk through the museum before or after the film.   The cost for the main museum is around $20 with discounts available for children, students,  and seniors. Active and retired military can enter the museum for free.  The special exhibits have an additional charge.

vintage menu

Vintage menu from the Walt Disney’s Studio Restaurant

The museum also features a cafe with coffee and food items.  Though the prices are not “vintage” like the ones listed above, they are reasonable. In addition, there are also several restaurants nearby if you would like to grab lunch or dinner afterward.  We made our visit on a Sunday morning in the summer and were surprised to find the Picnic at the Presidio going on when we exited the building.  There were several food trucks and tents set up where vendors were selling delicious snacks.  If you choose to visit on a Sunday, you may want to check it out!  The event is seasonal and occurs weekly from April to October.

Foggy Golden Gate Bridge

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the museum on a foggy day

You have most likely seen the films or paid a visit to the Disney theme parks in your lifetime.  The Walt Disney Family Museum is your opportunity to experience not only what happens behind the magic, but what happened before the magic.  If your travels bring you to San Francisco, you may want to spend an afternoon here taking a walk down memory lane with the Disney family.

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