Monday, August 02, 2010
The Walt Disney Family Museum
I have been meaning to write about our visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco a few weeks ago. This is a rather new museum (opened in October, 2009) and it's located in the Presidio, a former military facility right on the San Francisco bay that is now a national park. (See in the sign picture above, you can see that you are right near the Golden Gate Bridge.)
We'd read a fair amount about the museum as it was being built. People worried that the Disney cute thing would invade and destroy the historical look and feel of the Presidio. But the foundation that built the museum did a beautiful job, simply refurbishing the existing building and making it a seamless part of the area. It's so discrete that it's almost easy to miss.
Why San Francisco, you ask? Apparently Walt Disney's daughter Diane lives in San Francisco, and she felt that the SF bay area has become the center of cutting edge animation, what with George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar here already. I suspect she wanted to separate the man from the whole Disneyland/MickeyMouse thing in Southern California, too.
At any rate, the museum was wonderful. It followed Walt Disney's life and explains and demonstrates his influence on animation, movies, television, the theme park industry, and popular culture. What's amazing to realize is that Walt Disney had already made industry-changing inventions and innovations in animation before Disneyland's ground was even broken.
Don't think this will be a dry museum -- which is, I guess, sort of what I expected. It's done with the usual Disney style panache -- lots of imagery and animations and exhibits that are visually stunning and absorbing. There is something for everyone, whether you're the sort who likes to read the detailed placards or whether you just like to look at things in exhibit cases. We found it engrossing.
Photography wasn't allowed in the main part of the museum, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of the floor in one area. I'd love that in my house!
Even the bathroom was delightful.
A small word of caution: this is not a park for tiny kids, nor is it geared toward people or kids expecting a mini-Disneyland. There are no rides. But there are fun things to see, cartoons and animations to watch, and any school-aged child would be entertained there. I highly recommend visiting it if you are in the area.