Walt Disney Family Museum + Special Mary Blair Exhibit

As I’ve mentioned before (and I’m way behind on sharing!), I spent my birthday at the Walt Disney Family Museum with my mom and 2 of my oldest friends.  We had a blast and it was great catching up with them.

I love going one the Bay Bridge seeing the San Francisco Skyline.

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The Walt Disney Family Museum opened up in the Fall of 2009 and is located in the Presidio in San Francisco.  It is really a beautiful setting with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of Fine Arts.

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We started out watching a quick 45 minute World of Color episode about the 1964 World’s Fair. It was really cool.  They have a neat little theatre where they show different movies and have presentations. Last year for a D23 Event, I watched some of the making of Snow White and Alice Davis made an appearance.  It was pretty cool!

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The theatre decor is inspired by Walt Disney’s animated movie, Fantasia.

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After the movie, we walked through the small Mark Davis Femme Fatal exhibit in the lobby of the theatre area (which was restricted of photo taking), then we had a quick snack at the Cafe which isn’t that great.  I highly recommend eating before and maybe bringing a cooler with some food (you can’t eat in the museum but you can come and go as you please so you can take a break and eat lunch since there is nothing else nearby).

After that, we headed over to the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall behind the museum (you can find it by following the little train decals on the ground outside to a separate building), to the Mary Blair Exhibit: Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair.

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They hold all of their special exhibits here.  For instance, they had a special Snow White Exhibit here and we got a preview of it during the D23 Event.  But anyone can go to the special exhibits.  It’s an additional $5 so it’s really worth it.  Especially if you are interested in the subject. (Sorry, no pictures of the Snow White Exhibit… At the time, they didn’t allow photography.)

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You enter the exhibit on the ground level in their lobby and they scan your ticket before you go into the main room.  I was super excited for this exhibit.  I am such a fan of her work.

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They included a lot of her artwork from her trip to South America with Walt Disney during the 40s.

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They had a both art from her career with Disney as well as other projects she worked on.

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She worked on a lot of animated movies including Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Peter Pan.

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Once you are finished downstairs, you go back to the lobby and you can either take the elevator or the stairs up to the second floor.

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They had a lot of her art from when she worked on the Golden Books.

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These bring back so many memories!

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IMG_5453Of course, we can’t forget what she’s probably most famous for, It’s a Small World.

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This was her actual hard hat she wore during the construction of It’s a Small World at the 1964/65 World’s Fair.

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Don’t quote me but I think this was concept art for the facade of It’s a Small World when the ride was planned to move to Disneyland.

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I had to take a picture of this quote (1/2 on the first picture and the rest on the second below) because this is a quote from Ben Sharpsteen, a fellow Disney Legend who directed plenty of Walt Disney’s animated movies including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Dumbo, and Pinocchio just to name a few, was a close friend and neighbor of my great aunt and uncle who lived in Calistoga.  They have the Ben Sharpsteen Museum in Calistoga, but that’s another post for another day. (I will write about him since there is some family history there.) IMG_5460

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The whole second flor covers the perimeter of the building. As you can see, it’s basically one big room with separating walls for each area.  I love the color scheme in the downstairs part.  Looks very cheerful.

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A portrait of Mary Blair is shown at the end of the gallery upstairs.

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After visiting the special exhibit, we walked back to the main building and started went through the main museum.  If this you are planning on going, there is a TON of information on his life and work and you probably won’t absorb it all in one day so if you live close enough, try to come multiple times because you’ll learn new things each time you come.

The lobby hold display cases of quite a few awards and other artifacts of Walt Disney’s.  Below is a display of some of the furniture that used to be in his apartment in Disneyland above the Firehouse.

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The awards include many of his Academy Awards with the most prominent being the Oscar he won for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves which came with seven mini Oscar Statues.

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At the entrance to the first exhibit they scan your tickets again so make sure you keep them with you. The first gallery goes through a bit of his family’s origins and his life growing up in Missouri.

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Walt with his little sister, Ruth.

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They had a lot of animated videos showing what his life was like as a young boy.IMG_5477You end this gallery and go up an elevator made to look like you’re taking a train to Hollywood symbolizing his journey to Southern California in 1923.  Once you’re upstairs, you are in the second gallery going through the beginnings of his life in Los Angeles including the creation of Mickey Mouse, meeting his future wife, Lillian, and establishing Disney Bros Studio.  They have a lot of Mickey Mouse memorabilia from throughout the years.

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This wall had still prints of some of Walt’s cartoon shorts surrounding the actual cartoon. (that’s why it’s much brighter than the stills…)
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Old paint from the studios.

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Walt and Lillian with their daughter Diane.

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Diane with baby sister Sharon.

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They have an interactive room where you can touch the different circles on the board and it shows what teach movie was about on the big screen.

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All above the room they had animation of different Disney movies and shorts.

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Walt collected miniature figurines as well.

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Walt with his daughters at their weddings.

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Once you’re finished in the galleries with his life as a father and his animation, you walk through a short hallway to the next gallery and see a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I absolutely love this city!

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At the end of the hall there is an old bench from Griffith Park around the carousel where Walt brought his daughters.  You can read full details in the next picture below the bench.IMG_5514

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Next to the bench is a saddle from Zorro.IMG_5516

The next gallery is my favorite and would probably be any Disneyland fan’s favorite.  It is call the 1950s & 1960s: The Big Screen and Beyond but I call it the Disneyland room. The ball in the middle of this room has different pictures moving around it.

IMG_5517And this is my favorite part of that gallery.  It is a 12-foot model of what they believe would have been Walt Disney’s ideal Disneyland. So it’s not one specific year of Disneyland.  Some of the rides shown weren’t around at the same time as others in the model.  I could spend hours looking at this.

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This is the scale model of the locomotive Walt had driving around his home.

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Close up you can see some of the attractions that are no longer there like the Skyway, and the Submarines.IMG_5528

I think most of us can say we miss the Peoplemover.

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A lot of the attractions were ones my dad used to talk about.IMG_5532

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One of the old Autopia cars.

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Unfortunately the next and last gallery is the end of Walt’s life.  When you get into the last room which is basically a long hallway leading back to the lobby. You can hear a radio recording of the announcement of his death.

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At this point, we parted ways with my friends and went back into the gift shop where I got a book on the museum, some charms for a bracelet, and a pin and postcard of Mary Blair’s artwork.  I can spend a lot of time here too.

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They have a ton of books and I try to take some pictures of them so I can buy them for quite a bit less on Amazon.

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We had to go downstairs to coat check to get some flowers that they got me for my birthday and I noticed this old Donald Duck figurine sitting in the window corner of the gift shop.

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Gotta love San Francisco weather.

IMG_5555Once we left the museum it took us an hour to get out of the city!  Just a tip, avoid downtown SF during the week around commute time… We made a wrong turn so have directions that avoid downtown when you go visit the museum. Here’s a last picture of the amethyst necklace one of my friends made me (the one in the picture way above. She’s very talented!

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