Ah! Another exhilarating early start to a Saturday. We woke up at 6:45 to ensure that we got to breakfast at 7:30, so that we could leave the restaurant no later than 8:15. Oh, how the best laid plans can get ruined by the unexpected and the unforeseen. You gotta love Murphy!
With Lina staying at our place (for a wonderful second Friday in a row), and Anne the “Uber-on-time-machine” meeting us at the always consistent and delicious J.D.’s, timing for breakfast went off without a hitch.
It’s when we got on the road, and I made a split decision to take 880, that Murphy reared its ugly head. For what turned out to be no apparent reason, traffic hit a damn near standstill around the Oakland Coliseum. A stretch of freeway that typically takes 2 minutes to traverse took just over 20, and put us that much closer to missing our 10am timed entry into the Walt Disney Family Museum. Leave it to Murphy, and his good friend Google Maps to further complicate the time crunch by issuing shoddy directions to the Museum, or perhaps I should blame Cal-Trans? Despite a most harrowing trip, we arrived with 10 minutes to spare and plenty of free parking. Nerves wracked, we walked up to the WDFM entrance for a S.A.S. that was several months in the making.
The doors to the Museum opened promptly at 10am. Justine, Lina, Anne and I were in line with about 30 other people as the first “non-V.I.P.” group allowed entry into the museum. To be more specific, our timed entry was for between 10-10:15am, and while we were awe struck with Walt’s many awards, trophies, and commendations that lined the lobbies West wall, the Gift Shop was calling to us (ok, maybe not us, maybe mostly me and Anne). The Gift Shop ended up being an amazing treasure trove of Disney memorabilia. What was very exciting was that much of the merchandise exclusive to the Colors of Mary Blair exhibit in Japan was available here! I realized we may have spent entirely too long perusing and purchasing when I looked at the clock and it was 10:20! Justine and I quickly hit the register, spent money I didn’t have to spend, and raced to the exhibit entrance. I handed over our tickets, dreading that the usher would notice the time, but she didn’t even care. It would have been nice to know that at 8:15.
So as not to spoil the experience of any future visitors to the Walt Disney Family Museum, I will offer a brief, non-detailed review. I will also offer some time saving advice. If you are of with a little spoiling, and an amazing review with some stellar images, visit here: David Lesjak's WDFM Review This museum is obviously an animation fan’s dream come true, add Disney fandom to that mix and there’s an overwhelming draw. That being said, absolutely anybody that has watched a Disney movie, visited a Disney park, or even heard the man’s name would enjoy this museum immensely. It is a feast for the senses (except for maybe smelling and tasting, although they do have a cafe) as you embark on Walt’s journey from pre-conception, to his death in 1966. All of his many triumphs and even some of his defeats are featured in insightful detail with written, audio, video, and artistic representations. When you visit, give yourself at least 4 hours (we only had two due to a lunch appointment, but more on that soon). Any less and you’re rushing, believe me. If you could devote a good chunk of your day, you’d be better off as there is a whole lot to see and you’ll want to soak it in instead of leaving and desperately wishing you hadn't. Much of what is available to read is also available to listen to, so if a listening station is available, take advantage, as this is a faster option and you’ll get to hear the voices of some very important people in Walt’s life. Don’t miss an iota of the magic this museum has to offer, and brace yourself for the “Christmas Morning” room. There are no pictures allowed, except for an incredible walkway that offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
As I said, we had a 12pm lunch appointment, once again, I probably shouldn’t say “we.” I frequent the blog of Disney Historian and author Didier Ghez http://disneybooks.blogspot.com/ and upon learning that he would be visiting San Francisco for the preview opening of WDFM, I sent him an email expressing my sincere desire to meet him while he was here. Didier replied to my email with an invitation to join him for a Disney Historians lunch at the Fog City Diner which he was organizing. His email included a list of the invited and the expected; animators, authors, historians, children of Disney Legends, ambassadors for The Walt Disney Company. To put it mildly, I was floored. A request to add Justine, Lina and Anne to the Guest List was denied because Didier wanted to keep things organized and rightfully so. Fortunately, I have the world’s greatest girlfriend, and equally incredible friends, who insisted I attend. While the awesome threesome enjoyed a lunch of their own (see below), I was privy to the chatter from multiple conversations concerning Disney History, the Museum, Disney Parks, Disney Movies, the state of animation, the homes and lives of animators, and the opinions and ideas of people who’ve been Disney fans longer than I’ve been alive. I introduced myself as nothing more than a guest of Didier’s, an awe-struck and dumbfounded fan. While I was enticed and invited to offer opinions and discuss likes and dislikes, I was just too amazed and too happy to do much more than listen. On Didier’s okay I brought two heavy bags of books with me, which were graciously signed by anyone who was present that had involvement in a particular book. The highlight; A 30 minute one-on-one conversation with Andreas Deja about Disney, animation, and his experiences with Disney Animation Legend Milt Kahl. The most interesting tidbit I heard that I can talk about on a blog? Historian Joe Campana discussing phone conversations he had with the daughter of Disney Legend, Freddie Moore in which she remarked that the little African American centaur-ette in the Pastoral Symphony scene of Fantasia (who has been unceremoniously cut out of the movie since the late 60’s) was based on their private Maid!!!!! Everyone in attendance was friendly, gracious, and open. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience, which included an invitation to join them the next time it occurs and an inscription welcoming me to “the club,” making it all seem like an impossible dream.
**Instead of boring you with a list of who was there and their accolades, I've identified the people in the pictures. Feel free to look up their names and see what they've done/who they are.**
Justine’s POV of the lunch: Our lunch was a pleasant experience. Lina loved her clam chowder, Anne seemed to enjoy her salad and my food was so-so. The cheese biscuits that we decided on as an appetizer were good but dense, and had me hurting. The conversation was mostly dominated by how we thought George was handling himself in a room full of Disney legends. Was his jaw hanging open the entire time, was he able to speak, was he going to be okay? We wondered what was going on in that room tucked away in the far corner. Could we casually walk by without catching the attention of everyone in said room? We decided it was too big of a risk and we would just leave it up to our imaginations. Fortunately, George was able to sneak away a few times and let us know that he, was in fact, okay and having a grand time. Sadly, Anne had to leave to pick up her three precious boys so we paid and Lina and I graduated to the bar. We waited there for the lunch to end and ordered some very delicious lemonade drinks. Lina exclaimed that it was the best lemonade she ever had. I'm quite sure the fact that they had vodka in them had nothing to do with that statement. We laughed and we (almost) cried talking about past memories. Alas, all good things must come to an end. George appeared overwhelmed and overjoyed letting us know it was over. We continued on to the rest of our day. The End (of Justine's POV, at least)
Unfortunately, time crunches, scheduling conflicts, and older sibling responsibilities prevented me from visiting with my dear friends Mike and Denyse who were visiting from Las Vegas in order to attend the museum as well. I miss you guys, and I hope to see you soon!!!!
The day was capped off with a visit to Frank’s place of employment, Eddie Papa’s All American Hang Out. Frank made us a few special drinks, including a Long Island that had me reeling. Justine and Lina had drinks made with macadamia nut liqueur and topped with flower petals.
After eating some hefty chow, and waiting for the effects to wear off, Justine, Lina and I made a visit to see Ken and partake in the celebration of his 17 th birthday. We watched Cops and I ate Ken's birthday hamburger. A stolen hamburger is especially delicious, making the oldest brother once again victorious, and full.