The Walt Disney Family Museum and more

One of the advantages to living in Petaluma is being able to make regular trips into San Francisco. Whether we are there to shop for bargains at Nordstrom Rack or taking in some culture at a museum, it’s a great mini-vacation.

On our most recent trip into the city on Sunday, we combined two very disparate experiences: a very sedate and family-friendly visit to The Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio followed by a PG-13 shopping stop on Haight Street. You see, with the senior prom coming up next weekend, Valerie wanted to take advantage of being in the city to make a return visit to a vintage clothing store in the Haight in hopes of scoring a unique headpiece to go with her prom dress.

The people you encounter on Haight Street on any given day tend to be somewhat unusual; how often do you see pedestrians with cats on their backs like we saw last time we were there?

However, Sunday was the Bay-to-Breakers race which attracts tens of thousands of “runners” ““ costumed, clothed, or not ““ to SF. And after the race, a large number of the participants found their way back to Haight Street where they rehydrated after the 12k race with plenty of beer.

But back to the first stop on our SF itinerary: The Walt Disney Family Museum. When we read about its opening last year, it sounded like an ideal outing for us. Although we aren’t Disney fanatics, we are Disney fans. Steve is a cartoonist; so how could he not be an admirer of Disney and the Disney artists? He remembers the strong impression it made when he had the chance to shake Walt’s hand when he was a kid growing up in Southern California.

Our kids have been raised on Disney movies and plenty of summer vacations to Disneyland. And as artists and cartoonists in their own right, they have spent many hours pouring over some of the books we have that tell the story of the Disney movies from concept through production.

We didn’t really have a lot of expectations about the museum beyond guessing that we would probably see a lot of pencil drawings of Mickey and the numerous characters created in Disney movies. We certainly did see that, but we left feeling like we had gotten to know Walt Disney better. Of course you can’t talk about Walt Disney without talking about the movies, TV shows, and parks that he created, but the focus of the museum is really Walt’s life and how each event propelled him onto the next.

For example, there’s the bankruptcy statement from 1923 from Laugh-O-Gram films, Disney’s first animation studio. The failure of this company in Kansas City prompted him to get on a train for Hollywood to try his luck as a director. And the cool thing about the museum is that to take us to this next phase of his life, we got on an elevator car that was designed to look like the inside of a train.

That’s one of the best parts about the museum, we never felt like we were just going from room to room to see more stuff hung on walls. The spaces for each part of the exhibit are unexpected such as the spiral ramp that took us through Disney’s projects in the 1950’s and 60’s. We sat for several minutes and I reminisced about Sunday afternoons watching “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” on our RCA TV.

We surprised ourselves by spending more than three hours at the museum so we definitely felt that we had gotten our money’s worth: tickets are $12 for children 6-17 and $20 for adults. And by the way, the gift shop isn’t just a small version of a World of Disney mall store but really has some nice artsy items.

Steve was a champ navigating his way from the Presidio to the Haight given the crowds and road closures because of the race. Unbelievably, we got a parking place two blocks from the store that we wanted to go to. Valerie found a 1950’s hat with veil that is going to look fabulous with her dress.

The Walt Disney Family Museum and Haight Street. Both were educational and entertaining in their own way.



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