Heritage Day 1

Day one of heritage class focused on Walt’s early years and the places where many of his inspirations came from.  Below is a list of random facts that I learned about Walt and his childhood.

  • Walt’s parents, Elias and Flora, lived in Chicago, IL
  • Walt had three older brothers-Herbert, Raymond, and Roy, and one younger sister-Ruth
  • Elias did not like the influences of the big city of Chicago on his children so they decided to buy a farm and move to Marceline, MO (Walt was 5 years old)
  • There was a railroad that passed through Marceline that Walt loved-he was obsessed with trains
  • Main St. USA in Magic Kingdom is resembled after Main St. in Marceline, MO
  • Although Walt only lived in Marceline for a few years (1905-1909), it was always special to him as that is the place where he found his love for animals and drawing
  • Elias got sick and wasn’t able to keep up with farm life so they sold their farm and moved back to Chicago
  • Walt and his older brother Roy worked delivering papers for the family business after Elias bought a paper route
  • Roy was the first one to move to California
  • Walt wanted to help out with the war efforts but was not old enough so he fudged his birth certificate so he could be on the ambulance team during the war in France, this is where he picked up his habit of smoking
  • In 1923, Walt moved to California and started a studio in his uncle’s garage with Roy
  • Roy was always the financial voice of reason while Walt was the creative one
  • Once they outgrew the garage, Walt moved to his first studio on Kingswell Ave
  • Two girls named Lillian (who later married Walt) and Edna (who later married Roy) both worked at the studio
  • Eventually they relocated to a studio on Hyperion Ave
  • They changed the name to “The Walt Disney Studio”
  • Walt married Lillian in 1925
  • Walt signed a contract with Universal Studios and agreed to produce a series of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons
  • Walt left California to meet with Universal to negotiate more money for the Oswald cartoons in pursuit of larger projects
  • At the same time that Walt was negotiating a price increase, Universal went to Walt’s animators and lured them to work for Universal
  • After the animators agreed, they told Walt that they owned the right to Oswald, that they had his animators, and he was no longer needed
  • Walt created Mickey Mouse on the train back to California after his meeting with Universal
  • He decided that he would never give up the rights of his work again
  • Walt wanted to name him Mortimer but Lillian thought that the name was too pompous and she named him Mickey
  • In 1928, Mickey Mouse had his first appearance in Steamboat Willie
  • In 1929, they restructured their studio from a partnership to a privately held company-Walt got 3,000 shares, Lillian-3,000 shares, and Roy-4,000 shares
  • In 1929, Walt sold the rights of Mickey Mouse to be on school writing tables for $300
  • Roy hired Kay Kamen to lead merchandising and licensing
  • They partnered with Ingersoll Waterbury to put Mickey on watches
  • The original three pieces of Disney merchandise were stuffed Mickey dolls, watches, and trains
  • Within two years Disney had sold millions of dollars in merchandise
  • In 1937 Snow White was released-many people thought it would fail because they didn’t believe people would sit down to watch a movie that long
  • Snow White made $8 million with the cost of an adult ticket at 25 cents and the cost of a child ticket at 10 cents
  • They took the money made from Snow White and invested it in a studio on Buena Vista in 1938
  • In 1940 the company went public
  • Walt offered 20% of the stock to his employees first
  • In 1940 they were in $4.5 million dollars of debt
  • In 1941 there was a cartoonist strike
  • When Pearl Harbor happened, Bank of America approached the studio to help them design a Disney themed war bond
  • Walt & Roy approached Bank of America in later years for a loan for Disneyland and they were denied
  • Roy started meeting with different television companies to help them to open up a theme park
  • ABC was the only company that gave them a loan
  • Walt secretly bought back the Marceline farm house years later
  • The farm house that burned down was rebuilt in 2001 and has a beam inside of it that cast members are encouraged to sign
  • In 1956, Walt & Roy went back to visit Marceline for the first screening of the Great Locomotive Chase at the Uptown Theatre
  • In 1960 a Disney school opened in Marceline
  • There is a museum in Marceline with around 3,000 Disney artifacts that Ruth (Walt’s younger sister) donated to the city of Marceline