Yesterday I met up with six other members of my upcoming program at the Walt Disney Family museum in San Francisco. We had such a great time and I hope this isn’t the only Bay Area meet up before we go to Anaheim in August!
We sat in the cafe for a while while those of us who ran into traffic gradually trickled in, and we spent the first few minutes just basking in the delightful weirdness of meeting internet friends for the first time in real life.
The museum is beautiful. There are a lot of interactive displays where you get to do things like match musical cues to a cartoon or turn a crank to flip through stills and make a moving image. My favorite parts are the unexpected history lessons. There’s a display about a big animators’ strike and Walt Disney’s remarks on Communism, and a whole room dedicated to illustrations and films that Disney released during war time, including topless pinup girls and a picture of Donald Duck throwing a tomato at Adolf Hitler’s face (seriously!)
I also love the pictures of Walt with his family and cast members, and quotes from the people who knew and worked with him. Even in old, faded pictures you can almost feel the warmth and joy he eminated.
The crown jewel of the museum is, without a doubt, the 13 foot scale model of Disneyland. It’s gorgeous and meticulously detailed, with moving dolls dancing at It’s A Small World, green ghosts glowing at the Haunted Mansion, and Tinkerbell suspended over Sleeping Beauty Castle. One of the docents working the area told me that the model was created to show the park the way it was when Walt died, but with the projects that were incomplete during his life finished – like Pirates and Space Mountain. We all got magical and misty feeling overlooking our future home (what is this, a kingdom for ANTS??) and it was hard to tear ourselves away.
The last rooms of the museum are dedicated to Walt’s death and legacy. Illustrations of grieving Disney characters span the walls, and they are completely heartbreaking. There’s nothing as heart wrenching as seeing Mickey Mouse slumped over and crying. Walt was such an amazing man, and his departure shook the world of everyone whose life he touched. His spirit and memory live on in the realm of imagination that he brought to us all.
On the walk to the museum exit, the walls are lined with video screens playing a montage of Walt playing with his kids, clips of Disney films, quotes about Walt, and modern day images of families gleefully walking through Disneyland.
We headed to the gift shop and got a bunch of postcards. We found a flip book called “The History of Bridges” (or something like that) which showed the stork from Dumbo carrying the bridge and dropping it into the bay.
After the museum we all went to Mel’s Diner for a late lunch, and drew Disney related doodles on our placemats. I had such a great time meeting part of my Disfam for the first time, and I can’t wait to meet the rest of them in August!