Somehow I didn’t know that there was a Disney museum in San Francisco until a week or so before our visit. Granted, our visit to San Francisco was put together at the last minute so we didn’t know a lot of things existed there, but I digress.

It’s Disney. And if it’s Disney, I feel that I typically know about it. I mean, I love Disney!

It wasn’t until I was browsing around on Google Maps for hotels within a particular area that I noticed the Walt Disney Family Museum. I guess I figured that sort of thing would exist near Disneyland or Disneyworld– not out in San Francisco.

Needless to say I was super excited and made it our goal to visit. A goal we almost didn’t make because the museum was a bit hard to get to and we were feeling defeated.

Luckily we found a way out there and let me just say it was worth all the hassle. It was seriously one of the best museums I’ve ever been to, and not just because it was Disney related.

Full disclaimer here, I’m typically not a museum person. I get bored quickly and then I get antsy and then I just get plain irritated. Most museum trips for me last an hour at best. But the Disney museum? The Disney museum was different. It was interactive, it was innovative, and it was tons of fun.

San Francisco - Oct 2014

The museum, which opened semi-recently in 2009, is operated by the Walt Disney Family Foundation, a non-profit organization established by Disney’s heirs, and is not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company.

The museum is made up of ten galleries, which together tell the chronological story of Walt Disney. Beginning with his birth in Chicago, his trials and tribulations as an animator and ending with his devastating death, the museum spares no details.

It almost felt like you were on a ride, as the exhibits really bring Disney to life and allow visitors to experience the magic of Disney. I love how they cleverly designed the museum with interactive media mixed amongst the displays.

San Francisco - Oct 2014

One minute we were “riding the train to Hollywood”, then next we were watching clips of early Disney shorts, and the next trying to add sound effects to movies the old fashioned way.

We took the time to examine every exhibit and found the pacing of the museum to be excellent. And guess what, we spent well over an hour there and I wasn’t bored at all!

I was actually surprised at some of the themes the museum covered.

While I expected to see some of Walt’s early sketches and learning about his start in the animation industry, I didn’t expect it to be so technical. They went into the types of technology they used back then from rigging to eventually adding color– even including what colors they used for each character! Seeing all of the work that went into making such short films, made you appreciate Disney and all those who worked on the films even more.

I also found it interesting that they highlighted Walt’s involvement in the World Wars, and how Disney was used in military campaigns. They showcased a few mini clips he made for supporting the US troops in the war.

San Francisco - Oct 2014

San Francisco - Oct 2014

Of course the museum covered some expected things as well. Anyone who’s a lover of Disney memorabilia or vintage toys won’t want to miss this museum’s collection.

You’ll find stuffed toys, record players, toothbrushes and even original Mickey Mouse Club wear. I’ll admit, Disney has come a long way and their merchandise looks much better nowadays than some of the almost creepy things we saw in the museum!

San Francisco - Oct 2014

One of the highlights of the museum is the 12-foot concept model of Disneyland. Seeing as that’s the one Disney Park I have yet to make it to, it was fun getting to look at this 3D model.

As you spiraled around the room that contained the model, you also got to see concept art and sketches for the different attractions there. I loved getting to see the It’s a Small World Section!

San Francisco - Oct 2014

San Francisco - Oct 2014  San Francisco - Oct 2014

At the end of the museum you’re led out to an area where they often hold various lectures and events throughout the year. The weekend we happened to be there they were hosting a Marc Jacobs event, where he was there signing autographs for his new Disney-inspired book.

There they also house their Fantasia-themed theatre, which screens Disney classics six days a week.

Since Disney has touched the lives of so many generations, it was actually quite touching to see families enjoying the exhibits together.

San Francisco - Oct 2014

But that doesn’t mean The Walt Disney Family Museum is just a place for kids. While yes, it’s a great environment for families to spend the afternoon, but it’s also a space that any adult could enjoy.

And enjoy it we did!

We left the museum feeling giddy and childlike as though our creative spark had been ignited once again– but I guess that’s just the magic of Disney.


A special thank you to The Walt Disney Museum for allowing us to visit as guests. As always, all opinions and love of Disney are my own!


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