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The Disney Family Museum, part of Happy Times in San Francisco

Walt's Imagination, a Model of Disneyland at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco
Walt's Imagination, a Model of Disneyland at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco
Photo by Cesar Rubio, Courtesy of The Walt Disney Family Museum

“Happy Days are here again!” Remember the song? You can make new memories and conjure old ones by heading to San Francisco. Try landing at the Walt Disney Family Museum to give you a kid-happy, nostalgic boost, and inspiring lift. The relatively new SF treasure is located in the beautiful Presidio area in view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

You can spend some time with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pinocchio, Snow White, and Mary Poppins as you chronologically trace Walt’s developments from boyhood drawings to cartoons, movies, television, and entertainment theme park. You can also peek into his personal family life, including a photo of Disney driving his daughters to school, and letters from around the world when he died.

As you stroll through ten galleries, you are walking through some of the 20th century’s history of imagination, marketing moxie, and manifestation of dreams.  For some boomer guests, seeing the models of Disneyland and TV screens of Mouseketeers and the Wide World of Disney, is also quite personal-- sometimes like looking at “E-ticket” memories of their own lives. Those too young to remember “E-Tickets”  can still be  enthralled with the fantasy-made-real that one life and family can contribute.

When I visited with girlfriends, we enjoyed a quick lunch afterward at “the Café” (run by Wolfgang Puck catering), but then we scattered to various homes and hotel rooms to get ready for another fantasy-made-real,  a joyful wedding. We left the museum honoring the man who created what’s called, “the happiest place on earth” to go honor a couple that we hoped would “live happily ever after.”

For the occasion, I wore something from a recent trip to a country that declares that GNP (Gross National Happiness) a priority more than  GNP. I carefully wrapped myself in a gold kira, kiras being the national dress of women in Bhutan, the Himalayan “Kingdom of Happiness.”

Live music played for the first wedding ever held at the Caldwell Snyder Art Gallery on Sutter. The flowers were all arranged bigger than life as painted canvases hung on the white walls. Well-dressed folks artfully gathered in conversation bouquets.

When the bride and groom exchanged personal vows, tears were streaming down many of the smiling faces of those fortunate to watch and feel. This was better than the “happy” ending of a movie. It was radiantly clear that two wonderful, real people had found true love in their mid-fifties, and shared it with us.

No wonder I was humming, “Happy Days are Here Again” when I was heading back home.

Images from the Walt Disney Family Museum are in the accompanying slide show. For more on Sonne’s trip to Bhutan, and other adventures home and abroad, please hit “subscribe” on the button above- it’s free!

test (c) Lisa Sonne,


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