While not even scheduled to open until late 2008, a few lucky souls have been given previews of The Walt Disney Family Museum. Roger Colton was one of them and he gives Jim Hill Media his full report.
A great deal of what visitors will eventually see is very personal to the Disney family. For example, one wall display contained a series of artworks that had been in the Millers’ home at one time. Among those works was a pair of Mary Blair character studies. Those came from the 1941 South American Disney trip (referred to as “El Groupo” by the participants) that lead to the production of 1943’s “Saludos Amigos” and 1945’s “The Three Caballeros.”
There is also a wonderful, seldom heard, story in their about Walt and Lillian’s trip to France. Ostensibly a vacation and a chance for Walt to buy some illustrated fairytale books, it was actually a cover for Walt to receive the French Legion of Honor Medal. It turns out that the trip was even more significant than that (hard to imagine):
Disney archivist Dave Smith further related to Diane that it was
on that trip that Walt noticed how the theaters in Paris were playing
four and five Mickey Mouse cartoons at a time. And he thought, “Aha!
People are finally ready for a feature length Disney cartoon.” As Diane
said, the truth is more interesting than some of the legendary stories
(or myths) that have become accepted as reality. Offering those truths
is a part of what the efforts behind the Walt Disney Museum are all
I have previously disagreed with Diane Disney Miller and the decision to build the museum so far away from any of Walt’s accomplishments. However, upon reading this article, I am willing to admit that having a little physical distance from the parks and studios allows the visitor to separate the man from his work and actually could make for a more emotional experience. I’m not sure I’d trade that for exposure and guest access, but at least I can see what might have inspired the Disney family to build in the Bay Area.