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WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM
Animation Magic at San Francisco Presidio

Walt Disney Museum San Francisco photoThe world famous characters, toys, movies and games generated from the imagination of Walt Disney and his animators, writers and “imaginers” can be found in stores and theme parks in almost every corner of the globe. All of them are the property of the Disney Company a corporate monolith giant based in Burbank, near the original corner of Mickey Lane and Dopey Drive on the Disney studio lot, where artists bent over animation stands to hand draw the cells which flickered together to create the magic of “Sleeping Beauty” and wacky antics of “Donald Duck”. What gets lost in all the commercial products and branding megalomania of the Disney machine is the personal story of the originator. The family of Walt Disney, or at least part of the family, lead by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller, has set out to rewrite that.

Disney Museum Display OscarsThe Walt Disney Family Museum opened its doors in Oct. 2009 in a former military barracks building on the main square of the Presidio, the army base encompassing the tree grown hills of the San Francisco Peninsula at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge recently decommissioned and turned over to the National Park Service. The museum dedicated to creator, family man and visionary is intent on focusing on the personal story of Walt Disney, from his childhood to the creation of his master works and his empire. Born in 1901, rejected for military service in WWI, Walt drove and ambulance in France. He had seen early European animation and set out to create a more expressive kind of character through the photographing of cel illustration, starting companies, going bankrupt and ultimate developing the ground breaking technologies which led to the icons so familiar today.

Walt Disney Animation CameraThe museum takes up three buildings converted from the Army barracks which once housed the 30th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Rock of the Marne" for their heroic stand which turned the tide in WWI in 1918 (see Marne Memorial France). The entrance at 104 Montgomery Street is a building from the 1890s on the west side of the main parade ground holds the 10 main galleries a screening room where a changing program of films is shown a learning center, café and the Museum Store, where the two story multiplane animation camera that made much of the Disney magic can be found among the gifts and souvenirs. In the galleries the Disney story is told through Walt Disney’s early drawings from his youth, cartoons from his first company in Kansas City Laugh-O-Gram Films, the earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse, family photographs and film and audio clips, Disney’s Oscars and other award, and of course the colorful animation cels which brought his characters to life. From anyone who grew up in the days of the Wonderful World of Disney television program every Sunday knows, Walt Disney liked to talk about his work, so the voice of Walt Disney narrates pivotal moments in his life and career and home life. A changing schedule of film screenings and discussions are held through the year on a monthly schedule, with special themes for Christmas and other holidays.

The Main Parade Ground of the Presidio has been turned into a vast parking lot with the red brick barracks of Montgomery Street on the bayward side. By car take Lombard Street through the Lombard Gate and right on Lincoln to Montgomery. The Walt Disney Family Museum can be combined with the Palace of Fine Arts and Exploratorium a few blocks away (see 40 Years of Exploratorium) or the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point. By Public Transportation, Municipal Bus line 43 (or 28 cross town to 43) to the Presidio, then line 29 through the former base, or take a taxi. Admission is on a time stamped basis, every 15 minutes. Tickets can be purchase online of at the entrance in the flagship building. Admission prices are $20 for Adults, $15 for Seniors and Students and $12.50 for children 6-17. The Walt Disney Family Museum is open from 10am to 6pm Wednesday to Monday, closed on Tuesdays and some holidays. © Bargain Travel West

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