i have to read it tomorrow as my final exam in communications class… which i’m not looking forward to but whatever! it was so hard to put into words how much i admire walt… but i tried!
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” This quote was spoken by Walt Disney, a man who made his living by following his dreams. When you think of Disney, what comes to mind might be a movie or a theme park, but when I think of Disney, I think of this man. To say that he is an inspiration to me would be an understatement. I admire him because throughout his life, he never once gave up, and always pursued his dreams, no matter how far-fetched they seemed.
When Walt was a boy, his family moved around a lot. His father was a businessman, and was required to move to whatever city he could find work in. When Walt was four, the Disneys moved to Marceline, Missouri. Here, Walt developed a deep love for trains and drawing. These passions of his stayed with him throughout his life. So even though Walt never really had a stable home life, or lived in a particular city for more than a few years, he managed to still just be a boy and have a childhood.
In the 1920s, Walt and his friend Fred Harman established a cartoon and movie studio in Hollywood called the Laugh-O-Gram studio. They produced many silent cartoon films that were very popular. One of their most successful characters was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. At this time, Walt’s cartoons were being produced through Universal Pictures. In 1928, when Walt travelled to New York City to renegotiate the contract between his studio and Universal, he ended up losing the rights to Oswald and all of his animation staff. Walt had basically lost everything. On the train ride back to Hollywood, he developed a new character, a mouse. Mickey was literally born out of tragedy, during a time when Walt felt like his entire life was falling apart. And as we all know, Mickey was a definite success.
Mickey’s popularity allowed Walt to expand his studio and hire a lot of new animators. But when Walt announced to his staff that he wanted to make an animated feature-length film of Snow White in color, they laughed in his face. They wanted to stick with what was already successful and not try anything new. When critics found out about Walt’s idea, they were sure that Snow White would be the end of Disney, and dubbed the project “Disney’s Folly”. Even Walt’s wife Lilly and older brother Roy tried to talk him out of it, but Walt was determined. He literally put every penny he had into the movie, taking out loan after loan and even refinancing his house. The film premiered three years later, and was an instant success. Walt had proved everyone wrong, and his determination is what granted him this success. If he had listened to every negative thing people said, he would have failed. And what would the world be like if Disney had never started making movies?
Walt was a family man, and adored his two daughters. He would take them out every weekend just to spend time with them, and he started to see that there really wasn’t a place for parents and children to go to and have fun together. He then developed the idea that became Disneyland. Disneyland opened in 1955 in Anaheim, CA, and to this day is still immensely popular. There had never been anything built like it before, and Walt was so happy that everyone loved the park. Disneyland was like his baby, and he wanted everything about it to be perfect. He is quoted as saying “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” That shows how much Walt was invested into the park, he wanted everything just right and he wanted everyone to feel welcome. That is really admirable because he honestly wasn’t building Disneyland just to make money, he was building it to make people happy.
Following the success of Disneyland, Walt began to plan out what he called his “Florida Project”. The idea was to build another theme park called Disney World a few miles west of Orlando, Florida. It would include the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. Walt was especially excited about this project because of his plans for EPCOT, which stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. EPCOT would not be a theme park, but a city designed to stimulate American corporations to come up with new ideas for urban living. It would basically be a controlled city for people to work and live in without having to worry about crime or pollution. Everyone except for Walt was skeptical about the project, and weren’t sure Disney World would be very successful. Walt was just waiting for his chance to prove everyone wrong, but unfortunately, he died of lung cancer in 1966. The world mourned his death, and unfortunately, most of his plans for the Florida Project were scrapped.
However, the Disney legacy lives on long after his death. I think that it’s safe to say that Disney was a vital part of most of our childhoods, and the world would be a much different place if Walt had listened to all of those negative comments from people who didn’t believe in him. Even the iconic Mickey Mouse was created when Walt was at his lowest point, and that just goes to show “that it was all started by a mouse”.