Tartine & Walt Disney Family Museum | SF 2017

Last time on SF 2017, I enjoyed delicious seafood in the Ferry Building and had fun at the Exploratorium: After Dark with an old friend. This time, another day of solo adventuring!


One spot that was fairly strongly recommended to me to try out was Tartine, so I figured I’d try to avoid hanger by going to this crazy-popular bakery for some pastries. Even though I hate waiting in line…

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… there I was, in this sloooow-moving line, hiding my face from the people taking photographs of the not-even-that-crazy-but-still-embarrassing-to-be-part-of line. Eventually, I inched and inched and inched my way into the bakery, to the register, and even to my own little table in the corner to enjoy some pastries!

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Morning bun
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Lemon cream tart
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Luckily, a pair got up and I was able to snag this teeny corner table!

In general, I’d say it’s not worth the wait. The pastries were yummy but there is just no way to justify the long wait. When lines get that long, I expect to have my mind blown and mine simply wasn’t. I won’t be going back, it just isn’t worth the effort. (And I was pretty disappointed they were out of the almond frangipane croissants so early in the day.)

After nibbling on my pastries, I was a bit off-schedule because of the crazy line but I was finally off to go visit the Walt Disney Family Museum.

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I’ve been eager to come back to San Francisco because, during my last visit, I didn’t realize I spent the day really close to this museum! In fact, I didn’t know about this museum at all until I got back home and was using a map to visualize where I had been when I spotted this landmark on the map.

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Among Disney’s many awards are his Academy awards, including the unique Seven Dwarves-inspired one

This museum is amazing. It’s definitely a great museum for adult fans of Disney animations and of Walt himself, of course. You get a really in-depth look at his life, from his family tree to his death, and all the trials and tribulations in between. I learned a lot about Walter Elias Disney and the company that he started that I definitely did not know prior to walking through the museum. I’m only sharing about half the photos I took, and I tried to restrain myself to not take too many photos as well, to give you some small idea of the breadth and depth of the exhibits. When my mom hoards items from my childhood (old clothes, school projects, etc.) and tells me she wants to put them in my “museum” someday, I laugh, but looking at the thorough records of Disney’s life makes me wonder who was hoarding all of these things from his life, even prior to his animations.

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A collection of Disney’s cartoons from his school days in Kansas City
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This was one of my favorites: “I am too fat to fight and I guess there is nothing I can do help win this war.” “Why don’t you stop eating so much and save food for our boys over there. And you will reduce so you can fight.” SAVAGE.

I cannot recommend this museum enough if you are a fan of animation, of Walt Disney, of Disney animated films, of Disneyland, of early live-action Disney films, or just of this particular time in American history that produced one of the most iconic figures of modern American history and the most recognizable cartoon character in the world.

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Ub Iwerks was the primary animator for Steamboat Willie, known for the quality of his animations and the quantity. He animated the first Mickey Mouse picture (Plane Crazy) singlehandedly and supposedly churned out 700 drawings in one day – a figure that remains legendary to this day. Here are just a few of the frames that comprise Steamboat Willie, with a few panels actually coming to life through animation.

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A few of the earliest-known drawings of Mickey Mouse

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Some of the earliest-known mass-produced Mickey Mouse merchandise

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I loved the themed foods at Walt’s studio restaurant

There was a curator talk about how Walt and his team were important ambassadors to South America at a time when the US government didn’t want the spread of Communism so close to home. I walked through the exhibit about this time (it’s where Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros comes from!) and then waited for the curator.

Well… I got a private talk. There was no one else there, so the curator spoke to me about all the work that Disney did to foster good relations with our South American neighbors. A few people edged by at some points but most just kept walking. I didn’t intend to stay for as long as I did, and the one-on-one nature of the talk made me a little uncomfortable to be honest!, but it was too rude for me to also move on given that I was the sole audience of the talk. Plus, I learned a lot about the nature of foreign relations at the time and where the research for The Three Cabelleros came from, as this was a movie that puzzled me a lot whenever I watched it as a child.

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One of the biggest things I learned was that Disney’s animators actually went on strike for a long time, ceasing all operations and nearly ruining the company and the man

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I loved seeing how involved the animation studios were with the war effort
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To add to the list of “What Can’t Walt Do?”, he was really into miniatures and hand-crafted this train car himself when a teeny train was built that could bear the weight of adults (although any adult looked ridiculous riding on it). He just casually and meticulously created this train and the to-scale furniture inside. Very casual.
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The original proposal for Disneyland

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This gorgeous, moving diorama of Disneyland was pretty magical
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You may remember that I love the Carousel of Progress, as it’s the only ride at Disney World that Walt himself oversaw the design and production of.

I started rushing through the museum, as I felt I was dilly-dallying through the exhibits, and I didn’t want to miss anything with closing time fast-approaching. But before I knew it…

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Walter Elias Disney had passed away. And while I knew this, in the back of my head, I was still kind of taken aback when I reached this portion of the museum. He was doing so much: he was trying to open a ski resort (!!), he had put out Mary Poppins, he was doing amazing things with live action films, he was getting ready to start work on Disney World…

… and then he was gone. And I felt a bit floored by grief, sitting in this museum. As Walt’s activities ramped up in quantity, with the parks and the movies and the television shows and more, I felt myself going through faster to make sure I didn’t miss any of it. And I was forced to stop and slow down and take in the fact that the museum was over, that his life ended, and the world was no where near ready for that when it happened. Just as I wasn’t really ready for the whole experience to be over when I reached the end.

I walked through the gift shop in a bit of a daze, unsure of how to step back out into the beautiful sunny day at the Presidio.

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The view from the museum is top-notch.

Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street (in the Presidio)
San Francisco, CA 94129
415.345.6800
http://waltdisney.org/

Admission: $25/adult, $30 with film ticket
Hours: 10am – 6pm except Tuesdays and some holidays


Do you know what I mean when I set such a high bar for a place with a long line? I know it’s a bit unfair, but a long line means the expectations are just much higher. I wanted to go to Golden Gate Bakery, but they were actually on vacation during my visit! I am a bit concerned that Tartine is considered one of the best bakeries in SF, though, because I really wasn’t wowed by the flavors? Where should I have gone for baked goods if you don’t think Tartine is a good representative of SF pastries?

Have you ever visited a museum dedicated to a person? I once visited a Freud museum when my family visited Vienna almost 15 years ago, but otherwise I don’t visit too many person-centric museums. Maybe I should visit more? Do you have any recommendations?

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