Beyond Las Vegas

Check Out the Walt Disney Family Museum

The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

Did you know that San Fransisco is a popular tourist attraction for people who come to or leave Las Vegas? Especially international tourists.

When I used to travel there for tours, my favorite spot to hit wasn’t Fisherman’s Warf. It was a place very few tourists even knew existed. Many of the locals don’t know it’s there either!

The Walt Disney Family Museum

The first thing I must say is that this is NOT about Disneyland or Disney World. Actually, nothing there talks about the parks until the very end.

This is all about Walt’s life. And what a life this man lived. The people he inspired and the lives that he changed. Not to mention the entertainment technology he created!!


Tucked right in the center of the 1,491-acre Presidio Park, the Walt Disney Family Museum is a must-visit if you want to experience the Disney magic. The museum traces an interesting history of being a former Army barrack until it became an interactive Disney Museum. While you will not run into rollercoasters and Disney fireworks here, you can expect to time travel through the inspiring journey of Walt Disney’s life. Located over 40,000 square feet, the museum houses galleries, workshops, a themed theatre, and a café and souvenir shop! Here is your guide on experiencing this bucket-list-worthy museum.

History of the Museum

Initially an Army post, the museum expanded over three existing historic buildings on the Main Presidio post. It also entails a loving family history where Walt Disney’s daughter laid down the museum’s foundation as a memoir of her father. She wanted to materialize the inspirational story of her father in the form of a museum. While the museum has historical artifacts and displays, there is also a strong emotional and entertaining value attached to the exhibits. As Disney Miller, herself said, “our museum will be entertaining. That’s what dad was all about.”

Walt Disney Family Museum
Image: Flickr

How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Museum

The Walt Disney Museum has a little something for people of all ages. If you are a history buff interested in how the world of animation was shaped, the museum will not leave you disappointed. It also offers short screenings and creative workshops for children, and you can look up the schedule on the museum’s official site. Remember to free up space in your cameras since the museum permits photography without flash, and there are some mesmerizing displays you would want to remember!

The 10 Permanent Galleries

The museum has ten permanent exhibit rooms that trace the timeline of Walt Disney’s life. Each room features interactive displays and guides about a certain part of Walt Disney’s journey. It is recommended that you read a little about each gallery on the website before you pay a visit to the museum. That way, you will be in a better place to absorb the rooms bubbling with art and history.

The Early Life of Walt 

The early life of Walt and his struggle to enter the animation world are displayed in three galleries: Early beginnings, The Move to Hollywood, and Exploring New Horizons. You can expect to see Walt’s initial cartoons, learn about his life on a family farm and even see the iconic Mickey on paper!

Initial Years of Disney Studios

With the making of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ Walt Disney Studio obtained a place in the world of animations. Experience the early character building, cartoons, and cameras in the next two galleries: Transition into Features, New Success and Greater Ambitions.

The Rise of Disney Studios

As the museum takes you through Disney years, remember to pause at the four galleries displaying the rise of Disney studios: Patriotic Contributions, Post-war Rebuilding, The Natural World, and Disneyland and Beyond. You will encounter Walt’s patriotic contributions, natural documentaries, and finally the dream of Disneyland taking birth. Gear up for an emotional rollercoaster!

walt diseny
Image: Flickr

Remembering Walt Disney

The final gallery is guaranteed to inspire you and make you cry all at the same time. The gallery has quotes, Walt’s achievements, and motivating exhibits. Here, you will witness how one man perfected the art of being an entrepreneur, a family man, and a trailblazer.

The Disneyland Model

You have to put aside some time just for this mesmerizing model! The 13-foot amusement park model placed in Disneyland and Beyond exhibit has all miniature Disneyland attractions. There is some promising magic about how the model changes day and night. Make sure you are putting in time and attention to observe the details of the model. It is sure to be the coolest theme park model you ever witness!


Step into the themed theatre, screening different short, full-length films. This is going to be a children’s favorite since live-action Disney classics, Disney cartoon archives, and ever-living films like Winnie the Pooh will welcome you. The films change monthly and are free with admission. You can stop and relax on the comfortable seating here and relive the old Disney time with your family.

Creative Workshops

If you are tired of strolling through the galleries, it is time for some hands-on, creative activities. Head down to the Open Studio to experiment with art! Animation classes are offered for visitors where you can learn how to bring life to your characters. These workshops are not limited to a particular age, but anyone within the 8-18 bracket can enjoy these.  If you forget to bring your sketchbook, the front desk has got you covered! Grab a sketchbook and pencil and explore your creativity at the hub of art and inspiration!

Café and Gift Shop

After hours of getting inspired and looking at the exhibits, head towards the café and gift shop. This is not an ordinary café because it is themed around Disney! Decorated at its finest, the café is a perfect spot to rest and grab lunch. It also has a souvenir shop that will not weigh heavy on your wallet since the merch is reasonably priced! If you have a thing for coffee and Disney, this part of the museum will be the highlight of your trip!


A visit to Presidio Park is incomplete without exploring the Walt Disney Family Museum. Open throughout the week except for Tuesdays, and this place has a lot to offer. The museum encapsulates a mix of history, technology, art, and inspiration that is sure to leave a mark on your heart. Disney fan or not, this place is equally exciting for every visitor. More than a museum, this place takes you over the history of one of the happiest brands ever to exist!