Walt Disney 101: Discover the Visionary Behind Disneyland
Zatrun Published at February 24, 2023

Walt Disney was an American animator, film producer, and entrepreneur who is regarded as a pioneer of animated cartoons. As a filmmaker, he was nominated for the Academy Awards 59 times and won the award (Oscar) 22 times, making him the most nominated and winning person in history.

In 1955, he built Disneyland, one of the largest entertainment and tourism centres in the world, near Los Angeles. Disney did not stop there; before his death, he began construction of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The second amusement park in the United States opened its doors in 1971. Curious to learn more about him? Keep reading this article on

Who is Walt Disney?

Walt Disney was the person who founded Walt Disney Productions, which became one of the world’s most recognized film production companies, with his brother Roy. He was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, the largest city in the state of Illinois. Disney spent his childhood in Marceline, Missouri, where he began to show his talent at an early age by drawing, painting, and selling pictures to family friends.

Disney attended McKinley High School in Chicago, where he took drawing and photography lessons and contributed to the school newspaper as a caricaturist. At night, he took classes at the Chicago Art Institute.

At the age of 16, he left school to join the army, but he was rejected because he was not of legal age. Instead, he joined the Red Cross and was sent to France for a year to work as an ambulance driver. The ambulance was covered not with camouflage, but with drawings and cartoons. Disney returned to the United States in 1919.

Disney’s First Works

Disney settled in Kansas City, where he met Ub Iwerks, a cartoonist better known as Ubbe Eert Iwwerks, through his brother Roy and began working at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio. In 1920, he created and marketed his first original cartoons and later developed a new method to combine live action with animation. Disney began experimenting with a camera and decided to open his own animation studio. He chose Fred Harman, with whom he had worked before, as his first employee.

Disney and Harman made a deal with a local Kansas City theatre to show their cartoons, which became quite popular, and Disney named his own studio after the Laugh-O-Grams. However, things did not go well for Disney. In 1923, the studio fell into debt, and Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy. In August 1923, Walt Disney left Kansas City for Hollywood (Los Angeles). He had only a few drawing materials, $40, and a completed animation.

Walt Disney Studios

When Walt Disney moved to Los Angeles, his brother Roy was already living in California. The trio, along with cartoonist Ub Iwerks, founded Disney Brothers’ Cartoon Studio, which was later renamed Walt Disney Studios. The name change was proposed by Roy, not Walt.

Their first job at the studio was “Alice.” They also created the rabbit character they named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. In the late 1920s, they designed cartoons featuring Mickey Mouse and his friends. In addition, Mickey Mouse and his girlfriend Minnie became the iconic characters of Disney’s cartoons. In the 1930s and 1940s, the studio released classics such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia,” “Dumbo,” “Bambi,” and “Cinderella.”

Throughout his artistic career, Walt Disney made over 100 feature-length films. His first feature-length animated film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which premiered in Los Angeles on December 21, 1937. Despite the Great Depression that began in 1929 and was still ongoing at the time, the film earned a considerable amount of revenue (1.5 million dollars) under the circumstances of that era. Moreover, the film succeeded in attracting attention by winning eight Oscars.

Other Achievements

Another great success that is considered Disney’s last achievement was the film “Mary Poppins.” Produced by Disney two years before his death in 1964 and directed by Robert Stevenson, the film succeeded in winning five Oscars in different categories.

Mary Poppins

On the other hand, Disney played a role in the production of the following films worldwide: Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Sleeping Beauty (1959), and 101 Dalmatians (1961).

A theme park opened by Disney in California on July 17, 1955, which cost 17 million dollars to build. The park quickly generated revenue that was ten times the investment, and it became a centre that attracted tourists from all around the world. It has gradually expanded to different regions. Besides Walt Disney World in Orlando, Disneyland can also be found in Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

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