Walter Elias Disney, popularly known as Walt Disney, was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He was one of five children. As a child, he worked as a newspaper boy to help his family make ends meet. While in high school, he attended the night classes of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. At 16 years of age, he joined the American Red Cross as an ambulance driver in France, after being rejected by the army for being underage during the first World War.
After the war, he became a night watchman. While working he began drawing animals at night. Although he wanted to become an actor at first because of his love for Charlie Chaplin, he opted to become a newspaper cartoonist instead. After his own cartoon “Laugh-O-Gram” became popular, he was able to acquire his own studio that produced a seven-minute live action and animation called Alice in Cartoonland. However, the studio went bankrupt after a few years in operation.
After some time, Walt, and his brother Roy decided to move to Hollywood to start anew. There, they created a character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit together with cartoonist, Ub Iwerks. They were then able to strike a deal to have their cartoons distributed. Unfortunately, the rights to their cartoons were stolen by the New York Distributor.
Out of desperation, they produced a new cartoon based on a character named Mickey Mouse. The audience was not impressed but the team did not give up. On the third animated film, Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse became an instant hit!
In 1929, Disney introduced Mickey’s friends – Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto. In 1937, the first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was shown in movie theatres. The movie earned $8 million dollars despite the Great Depression happening at that time. The film made Walt Disney a millionaire.
Despite the financial success brought about by the film production company, in Walt Disney’s mind, he still envisions an imaginary world of fairy tales. Unfortunately, investors were wary. Even his brother Roy, did not support him with his new idea. Still, Walt Disney persisted. After being turned down 302 times, he finally got financing for his dream in creating the Walt Disney World.
In 1955, the first Disneyland Theme Park opened in Anaheim, California. Today, there are 11 Disney Theme Parks around the world: 2 in California, 4 in Florida, 2 in Tokyo, 2 in Paris and 1 in Hong Kong. About 150 million visitors were recorded to have visited the Disney parks for the year 2017.
If you can dream it, you can do it. – Walt Disney