Thursday, October 22, 2009


San Francisco's newest museum is the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio. The Presidio was an Army base, possibly the most beautiful Army post in the entire United States. It was decomissioned in 1994 and is now a national park site and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It has restaurants, housing, a golf course, views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, and is home to many small businesses and such notable businesses as Lucasfilm.

The Walt Disney Family Museum opened a few weeks ago. When my friend Kirsten invited me to a corporate party at the museum, I immediately said "yes."

We arrived at the museum a bit early and decided to walk over to La Terrasse restaurant to have a drink. La Terrasse is at the Main Post, next to the Presidio Transit Center. If you take the bus to visit the museum, this is where you will arrive. To our delight, it was Happy Hour at La Terrasse. Happy Hour wines (there were 6 choices) are $5 a glass and all beers are $1 off. We each enjoyed a glass of wine. We were tempted by the bargain-priced appetizers, but resisted, knowing that we would be eating at the party.

The museum occupies two of the Presidio's historic buildings. The entrance is at 104 Montgomery Street, a barracks building, right on the Main Post. A second adjacent building behind it, the Riley Building, was previously the military post's gymnasium. There is plenty of free parking right across from the museum.

Although we did not have time to thoroughly take in the museum, we had enough time during the reception to view the more than 900 awards that were presented to Walt Disney throughout his career, including 29 of his 32 Academy Awards. The most intriguing Oscar is a special one with one regular-sized Oscar and seven small ones...awarded for Disney's feature-length animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

We spent about an hour browsing throught the museum's 10 galleries. It was not enough time to view each exhibit in any detail or to listen to the audio presentations and view the video presentation, but it was enough time to leave us awed at Disney's work. We were advised by our hosts to be sure to visit gallery 9, where there is an enormous model of Disneyland as conceived by Walt Disney; we were not disappointed.

The museum is a personal tribute to Walt Disney by his family and includes much memorabilia from his personal life, much the same as is found in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston and the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. It incorporates the latest of technology into the exhibits to create a wondrous environment.

You've no doubt noticed that I have no photos of the museum galleries. I do not know whether photography is allowed inside the museum, but decided that, as a special guest, it was not appropriate for me to take photos. When I return, I will find out if photography is allowed and promise to post any photos I might take.

I will be back soon to spend the day here.

A few details:

*The museum is open every day except Tuesday and a few holidays, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
*Admission is fairly expensive at $20 for adults, $15 for students/seniors, $12.50 for children ages 6 to 17, and free to children under 6, accompanied by an adult.
*Tickets can be purchased online in advance. They are timed at entry times every 15 minutes. If you want to be certain to get into the museum at a specific time, or if you are visiting on a holiday, weekend, or during a school vacation, it is probably a good idea to purchase your tickets in advance.
*The museum café is operated by Wolfgang Puck. Judging from the tasty creative food that I ate at the party, which was catered by Wolfgang Puck Catering, this is where I am going to have lunch when I return.
*Not yet open in the museum is a movie theatre which will be screening Disney favorites and other special interest films.

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