The Walt Disney Family Museum
We finally made it to The Walt Disney Family Museum! And it was definitely worth the wait! The museum, located in the Presidio area of San Francisco, provides an extraordinary overview of Walt Disney’s life and is home to a plethora of historical Disney treasures. It’s a must see, E-ticket attraction for anyone interested in the history of Disneyland.
The museum takes visitors on a trip through Walt’s life on a chronological journey comprised of 10 galleries. All are incredibly informative and well done, but naturally the Disneyland gallery was of special interest – so let’s climb aboard and take a look.
Before you enter the Disneyland and Beyond gallery you encounter an unassuming and aged green bench. It happens to be one of the benches that used to surround the Griffith Park carousel in Los Angeles that Walt Disney would sit on while his daughters rode around on their “daddy days.” Walt explained that it was while he sat on those benches that he thought about building a park of his own where parents and children could have fun together.
Walt’s backyard one-eight scale train set, the Carolwood Pacific, was another source of inspiration for Disneyland. The actual train is on display and is the first thing that draws your attention in the gallery.
The museum even created a model of Walt’s Holmby Hills house depicting the train layout.
Early concept drawings by Imagineer Harper Goff for a “Mickey Mouse Park” located at the Disney Studios in Burbank hang above the train.
The gallery includes the original model of Sleeping Beauty’s castle designed by Marvin Davis and built by Fred Joerger of the legendary Imagineering model shop.
The original “Circarama” camera system also hangs from the ceiling. It was designed by Disney Legend Ub Iwerks and mounted on top of a car to film the original “A Tour of the West” film which debuted in Disneyland in 1955.
You can also find the Mark Twain Steamboat model that Walt showed off on the Disneyland television show, and an original Autopia car.
The centerpiece of the gallery is a unique 14-foot model of Disneyland. The model, dubbed “Disneyland of Walt’s Imagination” does not depict a snapshot of any one point in time of the park’s history, but according to the museum includes “attractions that Walt either saw put into the Park or had approved concepts of prior to his passing.” There are a few Easter eggs within the model, most of which are probably too hard to spot but you can read about online. It’s truly a wonderful miniature Disneyland that Walt himself would’ve loved.
These are just the highlights of the Disneyland gallery of the museum, which is just one of ten total galleries dedicated to telling Walt’s incredible life story. I highly recommend paying a visit to the museum. And if a trip to San Francisco just isn’t in the cards right now, you can still become a museum member and attend virtual events. The museum also has a tremendous in-person and online gift shop full of great Disney books, collectables and art.
I was lucky enough to be there on opening day, and maintained a membership until quite recently. It’s definitely well worth visiting.
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