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Life Lessons From Walt | The Walt Disney Family Museum In San Francisco

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If you are a lover of all things Walt, make a trip to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco to truly meet Walt Disney, the father, husband, visionary and creative dreamer. The official Walt Disney museum tells his life story direct from the people who knew him best: the Disney family. Here are 3 life lessons I learned from Walt while visiting the Walt Disney museum’s San Francisco location.


Sign outside of the Walt Disney Family Museum San Francisco location. minnie mouse ears framing the signage.


This might surprise you, but one of my favorite places on earth is not an amusement park: it’s a museum.

And no, I don’t think it’s cheating that it’s a Disney museum!

I first visited the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco when I was in town for- what else- a Disney conference.

Yup. I’m one of those “Disney people” and I proclaim it loudly.

I recently made another visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum and I had plenty of time to soak all the Walt-ness in.


walt disney family museum ticket


You know I was in my element!

And yes, I did cry. I mean, of course, I did! I always have #allthefeels from a trip that involves the Disney story.

Here are 3 life lessons from Walt Disney that I took away from my most recent visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum.

Life Lessons From Walt | The Walt Disney Family Museum In San Francisco

I have been a Disney fan from a young age with my first trip to Disneyland marked at 6-weeks-old.

I grew up with “The Wonderful World of Disney” on television every Sunday night and actually remember watching The Parent Trap and The Apple Dumpling Gang with my family on our behemoth Zenith television.


Disneyland Dumbo ride from 1970s

One of my favorite pictures from childhood: when you were on Dumbo, you could see the whole world!

But it wasn’t until my early years of college that I actually learned a bit about Walt Disney: the artist, the genius, the leader and the man behind all the wonders of my childhood.

That fascination only grew as I became a parent, raising my own kids in the Disney way.

Walt’s life story continues to teach life lessons many years after his passing.


Life Lesson 1: Family Is Everything

When you enter the Walt Disney Family Museum, your first room is what I like to call the highlight reel.

You know you’re entering the life of a man who left an impact on the entertainment world as you look around.


Walt Disney Family Museum San Francisco Snow White Oscars one large 7 small

Walt’s Oscars for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Photo: Allison Waken,

You see his awards, including his Oscars, and a replication of his apartment from Disneyland.

It reminded me of the greatness he left behind.

Which is all amazing and fantastic for a Disney fan to see. It’s a wow-factor moment, for sure!

But what stood out the most to me were the two portraits hanging in a quiet corner by themselves.



These drawings of Walt Disney’s daughters, Sharon and Diane, by Norma Rockweller reminded me that first and foremost, the Walt Disney story is about family.

For Walt, his family was central to his life.

[tweetshare tweet=”A man should never neglect his family for business. – Walt Disney #waltagram #incredibles2event” username=”noguiltlife”]

You hear this repeated throughout the museum as you pass through the early years of his youth where he helped with his father’s businesses, onto his own ventures with his brother, Roy Disney, and throughout his life with Lillian.

It’s a thread that is woven through the museum as the Disney family story is told.


Life Lesson 2: Dream Big And Don’t Ever Stop

We all know Walt had big ideas and grand schemes- and a lot of them worked.

But I also learned from the Walt Disney Family Museum that a lot of them didn’t.

Plot Twist: sometimes the failures lead directly to the biggest successes in Walt’s life.


early mickey mouse drawing from the disney family museum

Mickey Mouse was born from the loss of Walt’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. Photo: Allison Waken,


I couldn’t believe it when I moved from room to room and discovered the success – and then often failure- of many of his ventures.

But he continued to dream, and pursue those dreams.

[tweetshare tweet=”All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney #waltagram #incredibles2event” username=”noguiltlife”]


Walt Disney Family Museum kids on Griffith Park bench

It was on this bench in Griffith Park that Walt dreamed big: and that dream became Disneyland. Photo: Christie Chronan


Failure didn’t stop Walt who was a dreamer and visionary.

Since I’ve been going to Disneyland since I was born, I just can’t imagine a life without the wonder and magic that is the Disney Parks experience.

What if he had given up at any point before this idea conceived on a simple park bench came into existence? What a different place my world would be!


a model of Disneyland found at the walt disney family museum in san francisco

Model of Disneyland at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Photo: Tessa Smith,


Even during his last days, Disney was dreaming of the Florida Project (what we now know as EPCOT in Walt Disney World) and drawing out the details in the air from his hospital bed.

While he didn’t live to see that vision come true, he planted the seed of that dream that allowed his brother Roy to carry it out.


Walt Disney explaining the Florida Project on TV at the Disney museum san francisco

Walt Disney explained the Florida Project on TV, one of his last projects before he passed away.


Life Lesson 3: Follow Your Passions

What struck me as I walked through the Disney museum and learned more about the Disney family story, was how many times he found himself broke.

In the end, this was one of the most successful men in the world, yet he lost money time and time again.


Walt Disney standing with a camera and a quote about his life


However, he never lost his passion for the work.

Money, while necessary to chase those dreams, wasn’t Walt’s driving force.

[tweetshare tweet=”Do a good job. You don?t have to worry about the money; it will take care of itself. Just do your best work ? then try to trump it.- Walt Disney #waltagram #incredibles2event” username=”noguiltlife”]

This is one of the lessons I hope my children see as they watch me follow my passions.

My husband and I are on the same page here; it’s important to us that our children see that a life’s work can be a joyful life.

And Walt’s legacy certainly left that mark on the world. When he passed away, the world wept at the loss.


Cartoons and images from newspapers around the world expressing the grief after Walt Disney's passing

These cartoons and images from newspapers around the world expressed the grief after Walt Disney’s passing. The whole world wept at the news. Photo: Tessa Smith, Mamas Geeky

The most moving moments as I passed through the exhibits at the Walt Disney Family Museum came from the last two rooms.

The entire building and all the exhibits are extremely well done, but when you are openly weeping with strangers, you know you found a life that held great meaning to the world- and continues to do so.

While I never met Walt, I do feel a connection to him. My family, my dreams, and my passions are woven together in the story of my life, just as it was for him.


The Walt Disney Family Museum Location

The Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street in the Presidio
San Francisco, CA 94129



The Walt Disney Family Museum Tickets

Purchase in advance through the website at

Or you may purchase tickets for the Disney Family Museum at the lobby information desk.

Visit for free on December 5th, Walt Disney’s birthday. Tickets for December 5th are only available in person the day of.

  • Adults: $25
  • Seniors: $20
  • Students: $20
  • Youth (6-17): $15
  • Children 5 and under: FREE


The Walt Disney Family Museum Hours

Open 10am-6pm daily, except Tuesdays, January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25


Special Exhibition: The World of Glen Keane

Runs from March 8 – September 3, 2018.

Keane’s dynamic artistic talent brings to life some of the most unforgettable characters of our time, from the imposing Beast and fearless Tarzan to the daring heroines Ariel, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel.


glen keane little mermaid picture in the disney museum exhibit


I was hosted by the Walt Disney Family Museum as a guest during the Incredibles 2 Event. All Disney nerdiness and tears were my own.


A Walk with Walt through the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Life Lessons from the creative master #sanfrancisco #waltdisney #disneymuseum #waltdisneyfamily


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