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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review: Disney Family Museum

Thank you to Lydie at Travel is More Fun with Kids for graciously allowing Frisco Kids to use this post! Please visit her website for more great reviews of cultural activities in San Francisco and abroad.

We were fortunate enough to get a peek inside the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco a week ago Sunday. The museum opens on Thursday October 1st and is located in the Presidio.

Before going, I made sure that my two daughters (7 3/4 and 11) knew that this was not a walk in Disneyland but an insider view on the life of the man behind the company. If you do not want to risk disappointment, your family needs to be aware of this.

What we liked
Learning about the personal and professional life of Walt Disney through videos, family pictures. It is the whole purpose of the museum and it is a success. My youngest daughter's reaction after a couple of galleries was priceless: 'Oh no, his real name is Disney! He gave his own name to his company. How funny, his real name is Walt Disney!' We had told the children about it but for some reason, that detail got lost on the youngest child. And this is the main purpose of the creation of this museum: Diana Disney, his daughter, was afraid that the general public will forget about her father and the man behind the mouse.

There is too much to tell and it was such a pleasure to discover the museum that I do not want to give too much away but you will discover the original drawings (it was interesting to see the original Mickey Mouse sketches), the Alice series, the awards, especially the Oscar(s) received for Snow White (you will locate the award right away), the process behind the music, the sounds, the colors, the cartoons, the movies, etc, there is so much to learn and enjoy about the achievement of Walt Disney. Make sure that you make your child notice the lack of colors and the lack of sound in the first cartoons.

You think that you know so much about the man, well, think again, unless you are a die hard fan, I am sure you will spend a lot of time in the first two galleries discovering his life before creating Mickey Mouse. .

The interactive screens: my daughters played some game of pairing some music and characters. Lots of kids had fun playing that game. There were also some synchronizing images and sounds activities.

My 11 year old really enjoyed seeing the drawings come to life and particularly enjoyed the galleries where you can see movies on the upper side of the walls, you can watch side by side the colorless drawings and and the actual cartoons.

My 7 year old liked all the photos and drawings, especially the ones where she could actually discover who Walt Disney was.

Meeting people passionate about the life of Walt Disney and sharing additional knowledge. We talked with a book writer who wrote several books about Disney and the artists who knew him and enjoyed sharing insight with a visitor who is a Disney fanatic.

The view going before entering the last set of galleries: you are in front of a glass wall with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background: breathtaking.

We did not get to try
The theater. It will open on the actual opening day. To start: Fantasia, October 30 and 31 will see Halloween themed Disney stories (The skeleton dance, the Mad Pluto, Pluto’s Judgment Day, and more), later you will get Christmas stories. In November, Sleeping Beauty will be showed.

We got to meet our friends from Trekaroo at the visit. We trusted Brennan’s advice and skipped the food at the cafe. Our kids grabbed some cookies and apples: can not go wrong with this.

I was surprised by
The Gift Store: I thought the quality of the items is really high. Nothing plasticky as we often see in the Disney store. A lot of Art items are available.

What we did not like so much
My children lost interest at the Disneyland Park gallery. They liked the model of the park but for some reasons, this area did not touch them the same way the previous galleries did. They were more familiar with that part and instant of exploring the gallery,decided that they would rather whine about how they never get to go to Disneyland (even though their uncle took them to Disneyland Paris last summer!)

The Timed-entry. You have a window of 15 minutes to show up at the entrance with your printed ticket. My GPS sent us first to Montgomery Street in Downtown San Francisco and we arrived 5 minutes before scanning time even though we left really early. If you arrive after your window expired, they will try to get you in as soon as there is an opening or a slowdown in entrance. And if it never happens, you will have to come back another day. Well, you do not want this to happen, so plan accordingly.The galleries are not big and pacing out entries make complete sense. There were a lot of people in the museum but we never felt it was overcrowded so obviously it works.

Know before you go
--No strollers allowed
--Do not go with children under 7. I doubt they would like more than the cartoons in some of the galleries.
--Buy your tickets before you go, it is a timed-entry, make sure you do not leave in a hurry. You can buy the tickets 60 days in advance.

Is the the ticket price worth it?:
Adult: $20

Child: $12.50

The tickets are not cheap. We stayed almost three hours in the museum and really had a nice time. I am highly recommending it if your children can read and are big enough to process all the information. I definitely do not recommend it with toddlers.


The Walt Disney Family Museum, 104 Montgomery Street, The Presidio in San Francisco (415) 345-6800
--Open Wednesday-Monday: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Closed every Tuesday

The small print: The Disney Family Museum gave Lydie's family free tickets, but no other compensation, with no requirement to express a particular point of view.

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