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TIME Disney: The Parks, The Movies, The Magic

TIME Disney: The Parks, The Movies, The Magic

TIME Disney: The Parks, The Movies, The Magic

Not many know that what started out as a failed movie venture called Laugh-O, would go on to become The Walt Disney Company, a global entertainment behemoth comprised of 14 theme parks, hundreds of movies, cruise lines, the ESPN sports network, the ABC television network, the Star Wars franchise, and the home of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, among so many other properties. This special edition from TIME traces the company’s origin stories, successes (and failures) through the years as it has grown into a corporation that is in the business of bringing joy, and not just for children! Go from Walt Disney’s early days, his partnership with his brother, and the evolving animation of Mickey Mouse through the construction and expansions of the parks and resorts to the strategic growth of the last several years. For Disney fans everywhere or those fascinated by the evolution of an iconic company, this special edition is for you.

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Meredith Corporation
Frequency:
One-off
BUY ISSUE
$20.05

in this issue

6 min.
in the business of joy

NOBODY TAKES YOU SERIOUSLY IF YOU CALL YOUR COMPANY LAUGH-O-GRAM. NOBODY would take you seriously today, certainly. But you wouldn’t have had an easy time even a century ago, back in 1923—not when the companies that people did take seriously had names like U.S. Steel, General Electric, General Motors and International Business Machines. What you do with a company named Laugh-O-Gram in that era is you go bankrupt—which is exactly what Walt Disney, the 22-year-old Kansas City, Mo., animator who founded the company and dreamed up its name, did. But he had done something too before his little company died. He had made a short silent film. It was called Alice’s Wonderland, and it borrowed the legendary Alice character, cast a young girl to play her and put her on the…

12 min.
the magic maker

“IF YOU GET 40 PEOPLE IN A ROOM TOGETHER AND ASK EACH ONE OF them to write down who Walt was,” Roy E. Disney often said of his uncle, “you’d get 40 diferent Walts.” In fact, there was only one Walter Elias Disney—however protean and elusive. Born in Chicago on Dec. 5, 1901, he was the fourth son of Elias Disney and Elias’s schoolteacher wife, Flora. In Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, biographer Neal Gabler describes Disney’s father as a flinty character straight out of Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic and as a restless, entrepreneurial spirit who tried his hand as a carpenter and building contractor before turning to farming. When Walt was 5, the Disneys bought a 48-acre spread in Marceline, Mo., about 100 miles northeast of…

6 min.
world war ii and trouble for disney

WHEN THE GREAT DEPRESSION ENDED IN 1939, MILLIONS of American workers, having endured years of unemployment, began demanding job security and a stake in the new prosperity, leading to a radicalism that influenced labor relations—not least in the movie business. By 1940, Hollywood’s Screen Cartoonists Guild had unionized the town’s major animation departments except Disney’s, despite the fact that the Mouse House employed the vast majority of the industry’s artists. There was little consistency in Disney studio salaries or perks. The most valued animators were allowed entrance to the so-called Penthouse Club, which included a steam room and a gym featuring a trainer who had competed on the Swiss Olympic team. But “lesser” artists often couldn’t aford to eat in the cafeteria. To make matters worse, the Disney organization reluctantly went…

7 min.
hard times shaped walt’s complex character

HE CREATED MICKEY MOUSE AND PRODUCED THE first full-length animated movie. He invented the theme park and originated the modern multimedia corporation. For better or worse, his innovations have shaped our world and the way we experience it. But the most significant thing Walt Disney made was a good name for himself. It was, of course, long ago converted into a brand name, constantly fussed over, ferociously defended, first by Disney, latterly by his corporate heirs and assigns. Serving as a beacon for parents seeking clean, decent entertainment for their children, the Disney logo—a stylized version of the founder’s signature—more generally promises us that anything appearing beneath it will not veer too far from the safe, sound and above all cheerful American mainstream, which it defines as much as serves. That logo…

5 min.
images of innocence

The mythmaker is a primitive. He molds his fantasies out of primordial impulses that are common to all men. In an age of reality, he is a rarity, for he celebrates an innocence that does not mix well with the times. Walt Disney was such a man, molding myths and spinning fantasies in which innocence always reigned. Literally billions of people responded out of some deeply atavistic well of recognition, and they lavished their gratitude on him. Soldiers carried the cartoon-figure emblems of his creations on their uniforms and their war planes. Kings and dictators saw them as symbols of some mysterious quality of the American character. David Low, the great British cartoonist, called Disney “the most significant figure in graphic arts since Leonardo.” Harvard and Yale gave him honorary…

11 min.
it all started with a mouse

IN SEARCH OF A NEW MUSE, YOUNG, VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN ANIMATOR Walt Disney began sketching a mischievous, furry creature always on the hunt for adventure and trouble. With great black ears that seemed too big for his head, ever-perceptive oval eyes, a cute button nose and a trusty pair of white shorts, the new character had the makings to usher in what Disney believed was the beginning of what has become a century-old worldwide cartoon empire. But in 1927, the character who made his short-form debut was not the scrappy young mouse we now know as Mickey, but his predecessor, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Luck, however, would not stay with Oswald too long. Within a year of Oswald’s birth, distributor Charles Mintz took over the rights, leaving Disney without an anthropomorphic hero.…