Disney is arguably the most famous entertainment empire in the world. It's most widely recognized for its many memorable motion pictures, innovative animation and captivating characters. The Disney brand is also synonymous with extravagant theme parks located around the globe.
Disney merchandising, its retail stores and even its affiliation with sports have cemented the company as a titan of business. Despite its immense popularity, many are unaware of the history behind the company responsible for creating "The Happiest Place on Earth".
Disney was founded in the fall of 1923 in Los Angeles, CA, by brothers Walt and Roy Disney, with the distribution of the "Alice Comedies." Known as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio and later Walt Disney Studios, the small company saw Walt responsible for animation while Roy handled financing.
It was Walt who came up with the idea of an animated mouse that he originally thought to call Mortimer Mouse. The idea for a mouse named Mortimer evolved to Mickey and in 1928, Disney created not only the legendary Mickey Mouse but also Minnie Mouse, both of which were featured for the first time in the cartoon "Steam Boat Willie."
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"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was the company's first full-length film. It was released in 1937, five years after Disney received an Academy Award in 1932 for a cartoon from a series of short films called "Silly Symphonies."
"Snow White" was met with much critical acclaim. The film not only elevated Disney's status, but also helped finance the purchase of land in Burbank for a new, state-of-the-art animation studio. The facility would later produce masterpieces, such as "Dumbo," "Bambi" and "Fantasia."
From 1942 to 1945, the government used Disney to produce World War II propaganda films for the Armed Forces, as well as the public. In the late 1940s, the company began to turn to live-action films on both the large and small screens, which resulted in the studio's continued expansion and growth.
In 1950, Disney released "Treasure Island," the company's first complete live-action effort. On the small screen, viewers at home were introduced to "Walt Disney's Disneyland" anthology television series in 1954 and "The Mickey Mouse Club" in 1955. The year 1955 turned out to be a momentous year for the company as it also opened its first theme park, the California-based Disneyland.
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In 1966, Disney's founder, Walt Disney, passed away, but not before making plans, and purchasing land, for Walt Disney World, a new vacation destination in Florida that would be both a theme park and resort. His brother Roy took over the supervision of the company until his death in 1971, which was also the year Walt Disney World opened.
An executive team oversaw the continued growth of the company, including the opening of the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) in 1982 in Florida. This growth would also include more feature films, both animation and live-action, and the opening of theme parks across the globe.
The first of these overseas additions to the Disney family was in 1983 with the opening of Tokyo Disneyland. Disney was not without its difficulties during this time, including takeover attempts.
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A year after the opening of Tokyo Disneyland, Michael D. Eisner was named chairman. Michael Eisner proved a positive move for the company's growth with positive introductions to the company, including the Disney Channel and new movie divisions to attract more mature audiences, such as Touchstone Pictures.
After Eisner, Bob Iger became the new CEO of Disney in 2005. The following year, under Iger, Disney purchased Pixar Animation Studios. Courtesy of Pixar Animation, Disney would go on to release popular digital animation, such as "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo," which would lead to further awards. Disney added Marvel Entertainment to its roster in 2009.
As home to several Disney attractions, Orlando is considered a prime vacation destination. Located in central Florida with the nicknames "The City Beautiful" and the "Theme Park Capital of the World," Orlando has much more than Disney attractions to offer those seeking entertainment.
These different types of entertainment cover a wide range of interests from educational to thrilling. Orlando is home to dozens of theme parks and the 400-foot Wheel at ICON Park that allows visitors to enjoy views of the area, including Cape Canaveral.
Educational attractions in or near Orlando include The Kennedy Space Center and the curiously constructed upside-down home of WonderWorks. Sea Life Aquarium Orlando combines both education and animals in one location for an up-close and often hands-on look at aquatic life that both children and adults can enjoy. Other attractions offer tours of the area including its cities, lakes and waterways.
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