Thursday, February 18, 2010

History of Walter Elias Disney

Why is Disney so magical?  What makes us feel like we are wrapped up in inviting arms when we travel to Disney destinations?  The only way to answer these questions is to take a look at the history of Walt Disney the man.

Walt Disney was born in 1901 in the Midwest and moved to Kansas City with his parents as a child.  In the early 1920’s he began his first cartoon drawings called Laugh-O-Grams and eventually moved to California where he started up the Disney Bros Studio with brother Roy and married wife, Lillian.  In 1927 Walt had developed a character called Oswald the Rabbit, whose rights were later stolen from him by Charlie Mintz of Universal Pictures.

On the train home from the meeting in which he lost his signature Oswald Rabbit, Lillian helped him come up with Mickey Mouse… and a star was born! Walt went on to build a successful studio with Mickey Mouse, silly symphony and feature movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

In the early 1940’s Walt would take his girls out to play every Sunday and wondered why no one had created a place that both parents and kids could go to have fun together.  Only July 20th, 1955 his dream finally became a reality when Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California.  The opening day was featured on TV and brought quite a crowd.

Walt continued to make movies such as The Shaggy Dog, and in 1964 Mary Poppins.  He began to develop the well known Animatronics for The 1964 Worlds Fair also.  The prime attraction was The Carousel of Progress which documented American progress through the decades.  Today an updated version of the original is in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World in Florida.

During the 1960’s Walt also bought up lots of land all over the nation, but his most important project was known as The Florida Project.  Under several names he bought up parcels of land in swampy central Florida in order to build a new theme park.  He didn’t want to make the same mistake with Disneyland and allow the outside world to infringe on his magical world, and so bought up enough land to isolate the theme park.

While developing his new Magic Kingdom in Florida and his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT, Walt fell ill with lung cancer and died on December 15, 1966.

The company Walt had founded with brother Roy picked itself back up and opened Walt Disney World in 1971 with The Magic Kingdom.  Later they opened Epcot, but not as Walt had envisioned (an actual community people would live and work in), but rather as a theme park that focused on the Future and a World’s Fair theme, two things Walt loved very much.

Walt was dedicated to entertainment and as a Dad wanted somewhere to take his kids that everyone would enjoy.  His movies, animated shorts and theme parks showed his joy for life.  That joy has entered  our hearts and gives us that tingly fuzzy magical feeling we come to expect at Disney destinations.  Walt is truly an inspiration to enjoy life and  have fun!

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