Walt Disney was born Walter Elias Disney on December 5, 1901 in Chicago Illinois.
His father, Elias Disney, was an Irish-Canadian, and his mother, Flora Call Disney,
was of German-American descent. Walt was one of five children, four boys and a girl.
Most of his childhood, however, was in Marceline, Missouri. He was interested
in drawing and art at a early age. He sold small sketches and drawings to neighbors
when he was about 7 years old. Walt would rather doodle pictures of animals and
nature instead of doing his homework.
In 1918, at the age if 16, he attempted to enlist for military service.
He was rejected because he was underage. He joined the Red Cross and was
sent to France, where he drove an ambulance and chauffeured Red Cross
officials for a year. His ambulance was covered, not with camouflage, from
one end to the other, but with cartoon characters.
After returning from France, he pursued a career in commercial art, which
lead to his experimentation in animation. He began to create "The Alice
Comedies", which was about a girl and her adventures in an animated world.
But before he was able to finish, he ran out of money. His company, Laugh-
O-Grams went bankrupt. Walt then took "The Alice Comedies" in hand and headed
for Hollywood to start a new business.
His brother, Roy, was already in California. Between the two of them, they
combined their resources, $250 of Roy's money, and an additional $500 they
borrowed, and set up shop in their uncle's garage. An order from New York
for their first animation was "Alice in Cartoonland", which was initially
"The Alice Comedies", came in. They soon were able to expand their productions
to the back of a Hollywood real estate office.
Walt Disney was involved in animation in 1920. In 1927 Disney produced,
"Oswald the Rabbit". It was his first known character. Unfortunately, he
did not own the rights and was eventually owned by animator Walter Lanz.
Mickey Mouse's first appearance was in "Plane Crazy", a silent cartoon,
in 1928. His third cartoon, "Steamboat Willie" was his first to be released
on November 18, 1928. Mickey was a success from then on. Minnie Mouse also
appeared. Pluto did not appear until 1930, but was not known "Pluto" until
1931. Goofy first appeared in 1932 and Donald Duck in 1934.
Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White and the Sever Dwarfs, and the Three
Little Pigs dominated the Disney scene during the 30's.
During the 40's and 50's, Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp,
and Peter Pan were major characters in Disney movies.
Mickey Mouse toys were first produced in 1930. Walt and his brother Roy
licensed the reproduction of their characters from the very beginning.
The Disney characters are popular worldwide. The leading producer of
Disneyana is Belgium, along with England, France and Japan. The characters
seem to take on the regional characteristics. The characters range from
toys to watches to clothing and is most collectible.
In 1955, Disneyland Amusement Park was opened in Anaheim, California. The
Walt Disney World Resort, including the Magic Kingdom Park, opened to the
public on October 1, 1971. EPCOT Center opened October 1, 1982, and on May
1, 1989, the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park opened. On April 15, 1983 Tokyo
Disneyland opens in Urayasu, just outside Tokyo, Japan. It is operated by
the Oriental Land Company under licence from Disney. It includes several
themed areas: Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Westernland, and
World Bazaar. And, finally, on April 12, 1992 the Euro Disney Resort featuring
the Euro Disneyland park, opens in Marne-la-Vallée, France, east of Paris.
The US$4 billion complex has six hotels with 5200 rooms, and is staffed by
14,000 "cast members". Euro Disneyland park has 29 attractions in five themed
lands: Adventureland, Discoveryland, Fantasyland, Festival Disney, Frontierland,
and Main Street. 500,000 visitors were expected, but only 50,000 are admitted
on opening day.
Adding more to his wide range of talent, Walt Disney was also a pioneer in
television programming. He began television production in 1954. "The Mickey
Mouse Club" was a very popular television favorite in the 1950's. In 1961,
he was among the first to use full-color programming with "Wonderful World
A legend in his own time, Walt E. Disney died December 15, 1966. He is/has
been greatly missed in our "Wonderful World of Color".
Disney collectibles were marked either "Walt E. Disney" or "Walt Disney Enterprises" from the late 20's until about 1940. From that time on they were marked "Walt Disney Productions".