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I admit it. I’m an animation geek. And I’m particularly geeky when it comes to Walt Disney feature-length animated films that were produced when Walt Disney was alive. So you can understand why I was shocked to hear that some young people today think “Walt Disney” is a made up brand name. Like Captain Crunch, or something.

Diane Disney Miller, the daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney, was shocked too. So much so, she and her family went to an enormous effort (and a heck of a lot of expense) to preserve the history and imagination of her father’s legacy by founding The Walt Disney Family Museum.

Front of the Walt Disney Family Museum

It took seven years of planning, designing, and construction before the museum opened in San Francisco’s Presidio on October 1, 2009.  [photo by moi]

The Walt Disney Family Museum

Walt Disney Family Museum logoWARNING! This is no ordinary museum. Be prepared to be amazed! [WDFM logo, Wikipedia]

The moment you step inside the first interactive gallery, you are walking in Walt’s footsteps, with his voice narrating his story. The journey starts with Walt’s ancestors immigrating to America, and shows you their humble beginnings on a farm in Missouri. From there you join Walt’s adventures selling papers, working on a train, enlisting in the army as an ambulance driver, cartooning, and creating his first animated films.

Not all of his early endeavors paid off. After a bankruptcy and losing the rights to his first animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt was on a train when he got the idea for Mickey Mouse. When you step into the elevator to go up the second floor of the museum, you step onto that train car with Walt, as he tells you the story.

When you get off the car, you’re in Hollywood!

As you walk through the galleries, you witness the development of a new animated art form, and the plethora of products and technologies that followed. The men who worked with Walt share their stories at the touch of a finger, on interactive consoles throughout the galleries. It’s amazing that one man could assemble such talented teams — artists and engineers — and inspire their genius to create all that they did.

I could ramble on and on about the live-action films, nature documentaries, audio animatronics, and other technologies Walt Disney inspired. And don’t even get me started on Disneyland. But that would be boring. It’s much more fun if you sneak a peek at the Interactive Galleries on the Walt Disney Family Museum website! And while you’re over there, check out the Special ExhibitionsClasses and Workshops, and Special Programs for the whole family.

I was having a cup of coffee in the museum cafe after my last visit, when I overheard a teenager at the next table talking on her cell phone…

I just walked through Walt Disney’s life, and it was so cool!

That simple statement — made by someone who wasn’t alive during Walt Disney’s lifetime — proves the timelessness of Disney magic. Forty-seven years after his death, Walt is still creating magic …  for young and old alike.

In the following video Diane Disney Miller announces the museum’s opening on October 1, 2009.

Preview of the Walt Disney Family Museum on CBS

If you’re planning on visiting the museum, be sure to check the Walt Disney Family Museum web site for Hours, Location, and Directions. There’s ample parking directly across from the museum too!

WDFM Calendar of Events
The museum is closed EVERY Tuesday,
New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.