Admission is by timed-entry ticket. You can buy your tickets online up to 60 days in advance or at the door. Adults are $20.00 and children ages 6-17 are $12.00. Discounts are available for seniors, students, and AAA members. The museum is closed on Tuesday’s. Each month there is a special movie offering, free of change. Make sure you check the museum calendar before your visit to see what special events are offered.
The lobby is the only place where pictures are permitted. Display cases line the walls and are filled with Disney awards and mementos.
Furniture from Walt’s apartment at Disneyland.
Once you leave the lobby, you’ll travel through 10 galleries recounting the history of Walt Disney, the man.
The first room you enter is the Beginnings. It looks like you are in an old fashioned parlor. Disney family pictures line the walls. Highlights include Elias Disney’s fiddle, the deed of sale for the Disney farm, and early cartoons drawn by Walt from when he was in Kansas City and Chicago.
The second part of the room looks like drawing paper. Home videos play on screens and you’re introduced to one of several cameras found throughout the exhibit. After Walt’s company Laugh-O-gram Films Inc. failed, he boarded a train to try his luck in Hollywood. Your journey to the next gallery is on the Santa Fe railroad. Actually you’re just on an elevator, but it is decorated like a train car and a creative way to move guests from one gallery to the next.
Hollywood and New Horizons in the 30s makes up the 2nd and 3rd galleries. Alice Comedies are playing in each room and numerous personal pictures, telegrams, and letters from or to Walt are on display. I thought it was neat to see the marriage license for Walt and Lillian and the earliest known drawings of Mickey by Ub Iwerks. A wall of 348 frames drawn by Iwerks for “Steamboat Willie” takes up one entire wall and represents only 16 seconds of footage!
In the 1930s, Mickey is becoming a household name. Early Mickey Mouse merchandise is on display. The museum does a great job of providing interactive opportunities. There are many stations where you can pick up a listening device and listen to people talking about the display or hear Walt himself talking. A little bit of trivia for you–It seems that Walt used to refer to his brother Roy as ‘Old Socks’ as found in a letter to Roy.
Disney moved from short films to full-length animated films, the first being Snow White and in gallery 4 you’ll see The Move to Features. Meeting notes and sketches line the walls. No detail is left undiscussed. On Dec 22, 1936, artists and animators met to debate the personality of the Dwarfs. Creating this film was serious business.
Following the success of Snow White, In gallery 5, We were in a New Business, shows Disney’s undertaking of three ambitious features, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. With the best equipment at the time, you’ll see an original multiplane camera and an animator’s desk. While faith and trust are important, it’s science and skill that was applied to visual special effects.
Sadly the war and frozen markets, according to Walt, created The Toughest Period in my Whole Life, gallery 6. Union activity and the animators’ strike is detailed through photos and flyers. Dumbo is discussed and Walt’s Latin American-themed films. The war propaganda was very interesting. The pinups for service men were a little umm. . . revealing.
Newly strengthened from the war years, Gallery 7 Post War Production, Disney animation was revived. Interactive touch-kiosks line the walls. Large bands along the top of the wall play different video clips. The underwater camera for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is at the end of the room. Mary Blair concept art for Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland are featured.
Gallery 8, Walt + Natural World, is a narrow room with windows floor to ceiling. Wildlife films are shown on tvs. The floor is an ocean blue color with flecks of silver. While just the length of a hallway, this gallery offers the guest a needed visual break before heading into the last two galleries.
If you are visiting the museum because you love the Disney parks, you will be disappointed. There is only one gallery about the theme parks, gallery 9 The 1950s and 1960s. This winding gallery features the Carolwood Pacific Lilly Belle, the real miniature train Walt had at his home. There are posters about the World’s Fair, an optical printer used to create magical effects in Mary Poppins, and a huge diorama of Disneyland. Epcot and Walt Disney World are briefly mentioned.
The tour ends with Walt’s death. He died on December 15, 1966, ten days after his sixty-fifth birthday. Multi-media screens showcase Walt’s achievements. It is a very sad and moving ending. The visual images of the characters morning Walt’s death were enough to bring a tear to my eye.
There is a museum gift shop and a small cafe. Like most gift shops, the items are expensive, but very unique.
I think the museum did a good job capturing Walt as a man. I thought the museum seemed a bit grown-up, but the kids in our group found plenty to look at and actually lagged behind the adults at different times. We entered the first gallery at 10:30 and left the museum at 12:45. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.