Miss A Columnist

Shari (Wargo) Stamps is a writer/editor, teacher, photographer, and mom. After graduating with a degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, Shari covered education for a local newspaper, then began work as a content assistant at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, where she learned a ton about the state of education, contacting celebrities for interviews, and fun HTML and video tricks. Aside from writing for online and print publications, Shari talks about mommy life, products she loves, and great upcoming deals and events at her blog Savy Every Day. Shari is a new mama who enjoys organizing family adventures, meals, and activities in the Bay Area. She has a passion for eating delicious food, Irish countrysides, movies and events, visiting the Palace of Fine Arts, rose flavored gelato, and basically all the glorious wonders that San Francisco has to offer women, moms, and families.

Walt Disney Family Museum In San Francisco

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Family Museum

In 2009, the Walt Disney Family Foundation opened a 40,000 square foot museum in the Presidio about Walt Disney. It took three old military buildings (barracks), 35 fire extinguishers, 138,000 cables, 224 monitors, and 847 days to complete the Walt Disney Family Museum. I recently went to the museum, and the result of all this hard work is spectacular.

I remember going on family vacations to museums when I was in elementary school and feeling bored and miserable, so I wasn’t sure what to expect once I entered the Walt Disney Family Museum. Fortunately, I’m not in elementary school anymore, and a lot has changed since then. The museum is interactive, visual, and seamlessly integrates physical artifacts with video, audio, information, and creativity. With so many different ways to engage visitors, the museum is a fun, inspiring and educational place for children of all ages, as well as adults in all walks of life.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Family Museum

Upon entry, you step in the first of 10 galleries, which take you on a journey across Walt Disney’s life as a son, brother, artist, American, business man, innovator, husband, and father. Throughout the galleries are extremely detailed exhibits with letters from Disney to family, original sketches, audio from Disney or a family member telling a story appropriate to the timeline for the gallery you are visiting, and video. The first gallery talks about Disney’s early life, and it is here that I first noticed the different curtains that adorn the back of each exhibit to give a feel and texture to each piece as you move through the galleries. Little details like the changing curtains, videos playing in the letters of Hollywood in the second gallery, and changing videos playing on several different vintage TV screens in the ninth gallery (about the 1950s and 1960s) really make this museum remarkable. It was fun to see how many drawings it took to make one fluid movement in the original Mickey Mouse cartoons on a wall of drawings in the second (Hollywood) gallery. It was also neat to learn that making Snow White was a huge risk for Disney, and Bank of America, and about how Disney innovated animation with the use of a giant multi-lens camera (on display), which allowed animation to look more like you were watching a live moving picture with depth and changing, moving backgrounds in and out of focus.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Family Museum

The Walt Disney Family Museum has a Fantasia-themed theater for daily (except Tuesdays and Sept. 17 & 24) showings of classic Disney animations at 1p.m. and 4 p.m. The movie for the month of September is “So Dear to My Heart,” the story of a Jeremiah and his baby lamb, Danny, who he trains to compete in the county fair. The museum also has some great resources for teachers and schools, like educational tour options and lesson plans, on their Web site. Also included in  the great resources the foundation has to offer, are a slew of public programs such as community lectures and classes in a wide range of topics. This month hosts two classes about 2-D hand-drawn animation (18 and older) on Sept. 17, and a special Chili and a Movie event (museum members only) on Sept. 24.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Family Museum

My only complaint about the museum is that they do not allow strollers. I didn’t know this ahead of time, so I brought my stroller and didn’t bring any other sort of carrier for my sleeping (and extremely heavy) baby. I had to wake up my daughter so I could leave my stroller and camera (also not allowed in the museum) at coat check in the lower level of the building. I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked looking through the galleries because my bad back couldn’t carry my daughter standing up for too long. Other than that, the museum astonished me.

The Walt Disney Family Museum is open Monday-Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last tickets for the day are sold at 4:45 p.m.). Children under the age of six may enter the museum (accompanied by an adult) free of charge, while children ages 6-17 cost $12 to enter. Adults pay $20 for tickets, and students with valid ID and seniors over 65 pay $15. If you become a museum member you get free museum admission, free admission to the movie of the month (two per month), a discount at the museum store (not at the museum café), and a quarterly newsletter. It costs $75 for an Individual Membership ($55 for seniors), $125 for a Dual Membership ($95 for seniors), and  $175 for a Family Membership. If you plan on visiting the museum more than once to catch anything you may have missed during your last visit, a membership for the family is the cheapest option.
104 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94129
Ph. 415-345-6800

Wednesday-Monday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Closed every Tuesday.

TICKETS: Under age six: Free. Ages 6-17: $12. Students and seniors (0ver 65): $15. Adults: $20. Last ticket sales and entry is 4:45 p.m.

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