Garner Holt Sends Feathered Gift To Walt Disney Family Museum

Written by Dusty Sage. Posted in Disney History, Features, Walt Disney Family Museum

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Published on July 02, 2014 at 2:00 am with 10 Comments

The Walt Disney Family Museum has received a fantastic gift from the master of mechanical movement. Founded by Dianne Disney Miller, the Museum opened in San Francisco’s Presido district in 2009. The museum is beloved by Disney fans.

One such fan is the founder of one of the most prolific and successful animatronic factories in the themed entertainment industry. Motivated by all of the amazing things he had seen on his visits to Disneyland, Garner Holt founded his company in 1977. “Without Walt’s intense love for the art and technology of animatronics, my company would not exist,” said Garner. “I was inspired at a young age by the animatronics at Disneyland. My interest in them played a major role in getting started with my own business.”


Garner’s gift to the Walt Disney Family Museum started with a visit he made shortly after the museum’s opening. “The whole time I was walking through, I was looking forward to the animatronics section,” Holt said. “I thought this part of Walt’s legacy needed special recognition and that maybe we could add something kinetic to the Museum.” Garner Holt Productions has presented an Audio-Animatronic “tiki bird” to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco’s Presidio, a donation recognizing Walt Disney’s pioneering achievements with the famous theme park technology.


Holt thought an Audio-Animatronic re-creation of the “Barker Bird” that once entertained guests outside the Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room attraction at Disneyland would make an appropriate addition. Combined with a brief film recounting of the introduction of Audio-Animatronics technology in the early 1960s and an interactive control joystick so Museum visitors can manipulate the motions of the animated bird, the exhibit is housed within an existing alcove featuring a new purpose-built stage with a brushed stainless steel and glass railing. Pretty nifty, eh?

One of our readers, Suzanne Lee, recently visited the Walt Disney Family Museum to experience the new exhibit.  Here’s what she had to say about it . . .

The Walt Disney Family Museum has a new and welcome addition in Gallery 9 (the 1950s & 1960s): Pepe del Presidio, a replica by Garner Holt Productions of the Tiki Room Barker Bird.





Pepe introduces a brief film about the Magic of Audio-Animatronics, and gives you a chance to use a joystick to rotate and nod his head, move his beak, puff his chest and move his body forward and back.







The Barker Bird brings much needed life to this section of the Museum.

The Barker Bird is quite the amazing gift. You can learn more about Pepe del Presidio and the Walt Disney Family Museum HERE.


About Dusty Sage

Dusty is the founder and CEO of When he's not visiting theme parks and writing and editing articles about Disney and theme parks worldwide, Dusty is busy saving the Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago and speaking at various theme park and communications events. If you've got news or photos to share with the MiceChat community, or would like to book Dusty for an upcoming event, please contact [email protected]

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  • rstar

    I have admired Garner for a while now, but now I really do think he is a wonderful man! I had the chance to go to the museum last year, and I may go again this year. I agree that this is a great and well needed addition! Bravo, Mr Holt!!

  • eicarr

    This along with the love he’s put into recent Knotts renovations and Radiator Springs Racers animatronics has really added to the advanced quality of California attractions and his legacy.

  • Cory Gross

    What a great donation! The Walt Disney Family Museum is a wonderful facility (I reviewed it back on my personal blog: and this will be a great and necessary addition to it. Thank you Mr. Holt! I look forward to seeing it when we are able to make a deliberate trip to San Fran!

    • KCmike

      Cory I really enjoyed your report on the museum! Thanks for including the link!

  • ayalexander

    That is an awesome gift. A recreation of the Barker Bird. I’ve always wanted to see the Barker Bird with my own eyes, but never have. I went to the Walt Disney Family Museum back in fall of 2010, I went there with my Dad when he and I were both Cast Members at Disneyland Resort. I have to say of all the museums I’ve been to, this was my favorite one, not just ’cause its about Walt Disney, but because its interactive, fun, and nostalgic. I learned about so many things I never knew I’d know! I had already been a big Walt Disney fan, but that museum made me into a super fan. I remember my father and I spent 7 hours in that museum! And my favorite part was seeing Walt’s collection of miniatures, touching the famous park bench he sat on when he realized there should be a place built that ultimately ended up being Disneyland. And I liked seeing the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. A tear came to my eye when we reached the end of the museum and recounted the stories of Walt’s death.

    The museum is designed so well! I mean, throughout you are just living the fun, fantasy and hard times of Walt’s life, you feel like you are seeing his life through his eyes! But the end comes, and you realize it had to come to an end sometime. Hearing the stories of his close friends’ reaction to his death made me so…sad. But it ends on a lighter note when you pass through a hall lit with screens showing Walt’s life and memories in review, and you realize that even though he has passed, his memory is now continuing through you. -What a great Museum. I plan on going back again and seeing that Barker Bird just as soon as I can drive up to that wonderful city!

  • OriginalMousekteer

    Aaawwwkkk! Quit walking while I’m squaking.

    Tiki Room Trivia: When it first opened, admission was an E Ticket plus ten cents. Essentially it was an F Ticket attraction until the ticket levels were reshuffled.

  • PhonyKingOfEngland

    Walt and Wally are smiling down from heaven, I just know it!

  • Dusty Sage

    What an AWESOME gift. Fantastic work by Garner Holt. I’m sure that the Walt Disney Family Museum is thrilled.

    I don’t need much of an excuse to make a trip to San Francisco. Looks like it’s time to visit the WDFM again!

  • KENfromOC

    What a wonderful way to honor Walt and enhance an already fantastic museum !

  • animatronic

    I live in San Francisco and am a huge Disney and esp. audio animatronics. This is amazing! I had already planned to hit the museum next weekend for Mary Blair and Marc Davis exhibits, but now I’ll get to see this. :)