The Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco is a new addition to the SF museum scene. This modern, high-tech attraction opened just a few years ago.
They bring to life the creativity and innovation of Walt Disney, the man. It's the storyboard of his life and the process by which he became wildly successful.
This Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco includes 10 galleries. In addition, there is a separate building where they display special, temporary exhibits.
The gallery collection begins with Walt Disney's childhood. It showcases photos and early documents from his younger years. I really enjoyed seeing his birth certificate and other pieces from this time in his life.
The "Beginnings" Gallery is the only gallery on the first floor. Once you complete this exhibit, take the elevator up to the galleries on the second floor.
This entire gallery progresses from some of his early successes all the way through to his post World War II production ventures. Along the way, you will find interactive displays, videos showcasing his work and audio recordings from Walt Disney himself.
While the buildings doesn't look very big, you could spend hours with its interactive technology. I recommend setting aside at least two to three hours to visit all the exhibits on display here.
One of the most loved areas of this site is the exhibit with early Mickey Mouse items and drawings. Another popular stop is the section on how Snow White, the first full length animation movie, came to life.
Other exhibits on this floor include Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi. You will also discover details about the toughest years of Disney's life including the 1941 Disney animator strike.
Another powerful exhibit is an audio recording of him testifying in front of the House Un-American Committee in 1947.
After you complete your journey on the second floor, you will then take a slightly sloping ramp back down to the first floor. As you walk down this ramp, you will encounter floor to ceiling windows that provide the perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Your self-guided tour in the museum includes Disney's expansion in the 1950s and 1960s into television, the creation of Disneyland and his work on the 1964 World's Fair.
Your visit ends up with details of his death. This area includes a story of his last few days from his daughter Diane. You can also listen to a few audio recordings from many of his friends offering their condolences to the family.
Here are a handful of pictures from the permanent galleries to give you a sense of what the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco looks like:
The second room in the Beginnings Gallery on the first floor
An interesting interactive display showing how he animated 'Steamboat Willie'
One of the audio players in the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco
A video wall at the end of the exhibits here
The Disney Museum also set aside a separate building to display their special exhibits. They feature Disney related themes that dig deeper into certain films or topics.
During my visit, they were showing a detailed look at the creation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This area of the museum is also very well done, informative and interactive.
Many of their special exhibits cost an additional $5. Since it's in a different building, you will get a separate ticket for these exhibits.
To manage traffic flow in the special exhibits, they will give you a specific time to visit. Your entrance time is printed on your ticket. If you happen to miss it, head back to the main ticket booth and they will issue you a new time and ticket.
You will find the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco's Presidio. It is at 104 Montgomery Street and is shown with the blue star on the map below.
As I mentioned above, their special exhibits are usually an additional $5 per person.
In addition to the exhibits, they also show one to two films a day. They usually start at around 1pm and 4pm.
The museum used to charge an additional fee for these movies. They recently changed their policy and these are now free!
The movies are shown in a 114-seat theater in the lower level of their main building. They range from Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts to feature films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Since there are only a handful of seats, you will need a ticket to see one of these shows. Simply ask at the ticket counter and they will provide you with a ticket to the theater.
There is a small, simple cafe on the first floor that features fresh salads and sandwiches as well as coffee and other beverages.
The gift shop includes dozens of books and other items related to the world of Disney.
The museum also recently changed their policy on photography. You are now allowed to take photographs inside the museum as long as you don't use a flash.
Here are your best options for getting to the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco:
The Presidio is one of the few places in San Francisco with plenty of parking. If you drive here, you can park in a lot less than a block away.
When you enter the Presidio, follow the signs to the "Main Post". This will get you right to the parking lot and the Disney Museum.
Right now, parking is only a few dollars an hour. It's also free on the weekends. This might change in the future, so make sure you confirm pricing once you arrive.