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The Walt Disney Family Museum - Visit #2

A Disney Lover's Journey in San Francisco

My husband and I visited San Francisco for our honeymoon less than a year ago and during the trip, we visited an iconic location for Disney lovers...The Walt Disney Family Museum! We got a little extra pixie dust during our visit because The Jungle Book: Making of a Masterpiece was on exhibit too.

Enchanted Location

The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in one of my favorite locations in San Francisco, the Presidio. Now a 1500-acre park, the Presidio was originally a military post and was later added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. If you're an Alfred Hitchcock fan, then you'll remember the location highlighted in the 1958 film, Vertigo. Before visiting the museum, I recommend purchasing tickets online and reserving a time slot for when you plan to arrive. Upon arrival, you will notice several red brick buildings lining the street all resembling a simple yet beautiful appeal lending homage to the military architecture. You will know you've arrived when you see a strikingly different red sign on one of the buildings reading, "The Walt Disney Family Museum" in plain white text.

red brick building with green banner
The Jungle Book Exhibition at The Walt Disney Family Museum

Jungle Book Wonders

We started our visit by touring the Jungle Book special exhibit which was located in a separate building behind the main museum. A cast member greeted us upon entry and described the exhibit layout adding to my anticipation of seeing what was behind the closed doors. Located on two floors inside of the renovated gym for the military, the Jungle Book exhibit guides visitors through its conceptual journey starting at the source with an original copy of Rudyard Kipling's 1894 story. Like Mowgli under Kaa's spell, I felt entranced being surrounded by so many original sketches of the main characters, especially Baloo's. I've always admired seeing the first iterations of Disney characters as I feel like they provide a glimpse into the imagination of each artist. It really is magical to see a simple sketch on paper and how its likeness is so close compared to the animated characters we see on screen today.

White paper with sketches of a bear
Early sketches of Baloo

My husband and I enjoyed listening to the story of how the famous Phil Harris was cast as Baloo's voice actor and also seeing the various international merchandise used to promote the 1967 film. Being in America I sometimes forget about the international craze associated with some of Disney's beloved films.

Sketch of young girl smiling
Shanti from The Jungle Book

Although the Jungle Book exhibit was very captivating, the main attraction of the museum still awaited and I was looking forward to experiencing it with my husband, as it was his first visit.

Before guests enter the museum they can explore the main lobby which features family portraits, paintings, and even some of the Disney family's personal furniture once kept inside of their secret apartment located in the fire station at Disneyland's Main Street USA. One of my favorite areas to view in the museum is the trophy and awards case which includes some of Walt's collection of 26 Academy Awards® (the most awarded to anyone in history). With so many awards on display nearly inches away to view, you're given the sense of how indelible of an imaginative mark Walt left on the world.

Case of awards against a wall
Awards at The Walt Disney Family Museum

red curtain and pictures hanging on a wall
Family Furniture on display

Walt's Life Unfolded

The exhibit tells the story of Walt Disney's life: from birth to his early years in World War I, to the silly symphonies, all the way to the big screen with creations such as Snow White, to his final work with Disneyland and Walt Disney World. There are a few special artifacts throughout the museum including the first sketch of Mickey Mouse, Walt's hand-crafted train, and one of the famous benches (the other at Disneyland) that Walt sat on at Griffith Park when he imagined a new kind of theme-park as he watched his daughters play.

Crinkled paper with cartoon mouse drawings
Early Sketch of Mickey Mouse

It's hard to choose my favorite room in the museum but it's either the room featuring some of the paints and animation techniques used at The Walt Disney Studio, or the creative explosion room with the giant model of Disneyland; there's just so much to see and explore.

wall of multi color pains in jars
Paint from the studio

miniature model of themepark
Model of Disneyland

Visiting The Walt Disney family museum makes me feel like I'm at a Disney theme park. There's something about the magic of Disney that just exudes from every inch of the museum making my appreciation for Walt and the Imagineers so much stronger.

Plan Your Trip to the Walt Disney Family Museum

If you're ever in San Francisco, I highly recommend visiting The Walt Disney Family Museum for a magical trip that will inspire you to plan your next trip to the parks or even sail away on a cruise!


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