As I mentioned in my previous post about my awesome trip north with MizMeliz, we ended up at the gorgeous & massive Walt Disney Family Museum, after I casually asked whereabouts it was, we discovered how much we both love Disney & decided we had to give this center a GO! Nestled in the pristine Presidio Park surrounding The Golden Gate Bridge from pretty much any angle you are at, the red brick buildings all around make you feel rather transformed inside this national park; perhaps a “Disneyland” of the bay area??
We began our adventure inside the special Snow White exhibit, which is there through April 14th. Inside the compact building are 2 levels completely chronicling the very first animated feature film; from the drawing board, to its Oscars. The drawings are nothing short of stunning, especially of The Evil Queen, as well as one that reminded us of The Little Prince; apparently, they decided against a dream sequence scene of the princess after meeting the prince and they have the picture on display. Anther area I really took note of is the transformation of The Queen; drawings & film clips with Walt adorned the wall, showing us how she goes from evil…to even more evil as the old lady with an apple.
Moving onto the main building, I was unprepared for just how extensive this museum would be. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed, so I hope I can re-create the magic, along with some outside shots I did capture.
At the entrance, we were able to chat with the friendly greeter, & she got me to the bottom of a question I have been wondering: Why San Francisco? Turns out, Walt’s daughter, Diane, lives nearby & Walt was a great supporter of national parks, so it all seemed very fitting 🙂
The first room begins us, fittingly, at Beginnings. Inside, we learn of The Disney’s humble beginnings in Missouri, dating back to artifacts of his great grandparents, & we go on to their move to Chicago. In the 1920’s, Walt was stationed in France & pictures of him & his buddies made over there are all around. The next room had some very special items, one of my favorites being Walt & his brother’s Universal camera, which cost them a whopping $300 & they soon started making home movies that are on display, very a la reality tv! I can only imagine what Walt would be dreaming up if he were still with us today. Another milestone you can see here is a book on animation, the very book that opened Walt’s eyes to cartoons. This stopped me in my tracks, how amazing that this one little book could help shape Walt Disney?!!??
Upstairs, we arrive in Hollywood, circa 1923. One of his first projects was Alice, a revolutionary short that had live action & animation, much like his film in the 40’s, So Dear to my Heart. Alice was as cute as a button, with adventures such as joining the circus & being in Africa.
Next up….the main man…Mickey Mouse! Entering inside the next exhibit, you will find a huge wall replica with drawings of each little movement of Steamboat Willie….can you imagine drawing a cartoon that LITERALLY you are drawing the exact same thing, only changing a tiny facial expression?! Such dedication. They also have all of Mickey’s merchandise; lunch boxes, bicycles, comic book. I even overheard one elderly gentleman say to his wife that he probably had most of these items!
After the success of Snow White, is when he set up shop in Burbank & made even more ambitious cartoon films, Fantasia, Pinocchio & Bambi. They hae some awesome original props from Pinocchio, including the blonde marionette they drew for his famous “Got No Strings” song. Music was so important in Walt’s movies, too, & that is elaborated on. You can also put headphones on to hear once again songs you will recall from growing up (except if you’re me…I cannot watch Bambi without bawling & my only memory of Fantasia is being 2 or 3 & scared…..then peeing my pants! Pinocchio was A-OK growing up, though).
By now, I felt like I had seen a lifetime worth of things….but, we barely had made a dent! It was amazing as we moved onto artifacts from Dumbo, Cinderella, more shorts & countless other cartoons we all love; Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland & Cinderella. Which was interesting to learn they first completely made as a live action film, to then draw & recreate on paper….I had to wonder…did they even have dancing mice making gowns? 😉 I was disappointed to learn that Alice in Wonderland was not as successful; that film is such a beauty for the eyes.
As most of you know, I love Disneyland. So, stepping into the room to learn all about his makings of the beloved theme park in Anaheim, was AWESOME for me! You enter into the room & it swirls down, as if you’re in the line for Space Mountain & you go onto see an original Autopia car, 3D model of the park today (which is HUGE, not on a little school desk) & sweet letters to his Aunt Ruth, whom he would write & keep in the loop of the progress of his new park.
We move onto posters & video clips of some of my favorite films; The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins & Pollyanna. Really, nothing is left out at this center! I am omitting much out, too–because I want you to have some surprises if you go.
The final part of the museum, does get rather somber…we learn of Walt’s untimely death & how it affected the world. It is incredible to see how much has happened since he left us in 1966, The Disney Corporation has seen MANY downs, along with their ups. Walt was nearly about to quit Hollywood altogether right before his success. By not giving up, he has given so much love & great memories to countless people…..I bet you can ask anyone & they have some kind of wonderful memory regarding a Disney film, trip to Disneyland or World or one of his trinkets like a doll or race car. His characters teach us to be strong, too, & the villains do remind us that not everyone is on our side, yet if we stay optimistic like one of his fairy princesses, we WILL have the last laugh.
For more information on the museum, visit www.waltdisney.org