Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Walt Disney Family Museum: Bringing Disney Magic to the Bay

I'm a huge Disneyland fan, but grew up in a conflict of space. My quaint little hometown of Auburn, California, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, is 443 miles away from the original Disney park. Now I know that for many, that's close. But when I was young, that 8 hour drive seemed like an eternity, especially going through the heart (more like lower intestines) of California on the 5.
Walt's academy awards for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, one
of the few things at the museum I could take a picture of

So a couple of years ago, when I heard that, on Oct. 1, 2009, the Walt Disney Family Museum would be opening in San Francisco, only a mere 2 hours from my home, I was ecstatic. Then I realized that I would be at college in Arizona when it opened, but that's another story. In short, for the Disney die-hards that are a little disgruntled about the left-field-location of the museum, now you know how it feels.

I took my first trip to the museum, located in a renovated building in the Presidio, during my winter break in 2009-2010. Boy was I impressed.

Having just finished Neal Gabler's Walt Disney bio (Fresh AirInterview on the book)the previous summer, I was ready to see a visual representation of everything I had just read. From the beginning, listening to old tapes of Walt talking about his past, to his first go at animation with the Alice series, to the animation process and his entire life post-fame, the museum gave me everything I expected.

Old posters from the park at the Museum

There's so much to Walt's extremely complex life, and the museum, owned by the Walt Disney Family Foundation, a non-profit organization established by Disney's heirs (including Diane Marie Disney, co-founder of the Museum), does an amazing job at giving the real story of Walt's life. With such an abbundance of false information about the man floating around out there, it's comforting to know there is a museum  that exists to tell his story.

My personal favorite part: the model of "Walt's Disneyland," a fascinating display of the Disneyland of Walt's mind, depicting different aspects of the park that that never existed  togetherat one certain time. On my second trip, I spent almost an hour examining and reexamining it.

With it's wide array of events, a trip back home will always include a trip to the museum.    

If you've been to the museum, what was your favorite part?

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