Walt Disney: The Man Behind the Mouse

Disney7_AnaPinesThe Walt Disney Family Museum opened in the Presidio of San Francisco on October 1, 2009 and was founded by Walt Disney’s eldest daughter, Diane Disney Miller who passed away in 2013. There is no argument that Disney is one of the more recognized brands in the world today. However, his daughter found it disturbing that that’s all it had become in the eyes of many. Her children encountered people that didn’t realize that there was an intricate story behind the Disney name that belonged to a human being, her dad.

The 40,000 square foot Museum contains one of the most comprehensive collections and fluid layouts that will appeal to Disney fans, entrepreneurs, and aspiring artists. As you immerse yourself in each room you will learn about many of his ups and downs, motivations, and relentless determination. His first cartoon company Laugh-O-gram went bankrupt in 1923. With only $40 in his pocket, he hopped on a train and headed to California.

Disney30_AnaPinesHis body of work emerged from need, curiosity, talent, and a little bit of luck. He stumbled across opportunities that included mentorships, collaborators and risks that could’ve gone the wrong way. He took chances, valued his family, and continuously educated himself on what was and wasn’t happening in his field. Full length animated movies weren’t even a consideration prior to Disney.

Among the numerous family photos, personal treasures, first prints, video segments and collectibles are lessons in movie making magic from storyboard to screen. Several original animation cells and photos of staff and original cameras used in production are found throughout. In the middle of it all is a two story multiplane camera that brought animation to the next level. The interactive display includes audio received through a telephone receiver you pick up and a video across from you with footage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Listen, watch and look down at the invention that brought pans and zoom ins and out to the animated screen. Disney thrived on improving the technology and when he dreamed up something, he’d find ways to make them come true. He was also the first to successfully synchronize sound and animation.

Disney35_AnaPinesAt times he wanted to call it quits and there were moments the business didn’t generate any money. One of those moments occurred during a worker strike that he persisted through. Although, it didn’t delve into whether or not he felt at fault for any of his worker’s grievances. In the end, they came upon an agreement and Disney continued to grow and expand the empire. He still holds the record for most Academy Award nominations (59) and wins (22).

Disney went from changing animation as we know it to creating the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. A tiny replica where you can look down at the entire parks layout as if you were in a plane (or a giant) takes up a room. You will also find many family mementos from the park on display. Seeing miniature Disney is a reminder that big dreams start small.

Disney45_AnaPinesThe self-paced tour ends in a room in remembrance of the day Walt Elias Disney passed away, December 15, 1966. It’s full of media, illustrations and quotes that exemplified the influence he had on the world and the sadness that many felt after hearing the news. The purpose of the museum is to let you get to know the “man behind the mouse” up until the very end. Once you visit, you will never see Disney as just a corporation again.

Tickets and prices: http://waltdisney.org


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