Florida Guide > Disney General
The Story of Mr Walt Disney
Walter Elias Disney enjoyed a Hollywood career the spanned 43 years. He was at the heart of the development of the motion picture medium and firmly established himself as a genuine part of American film history.
From his humble beginnings as an artist for a Kansas art studio, Walt Disney is today acknowledged as a pioneer and innovator of the movie industry who, along with members of his staff, was awarded with almost 1000 honors and citations including a staggering 48 Academy Awards.
Born in Chicago in 1928 to a Irish-Canadian father and German-American mother, Walt was one of five children raised on a farm. Interested in drawing from a very early age, Walt began selling his sketches at the tender age of 7. Throughout school, he concentrated on drawing and photography and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in the evenings after school.
After being declined for a position in the military at the age of 16, Walt joined the Red Cross and covered his ambulance with cartoons and sketches instead of the stock camouflage. He returned to Chicago and pursued a career as an advertising cartoonist.
With less than $40 in his pocket and a completed animated live-action film, Walt left for the bright lights of Hollywood to join brother Roy. After pooling their money and taking a loan of $500, the brothers set up studio in their uncle’ s garage and began their first production of their " Alice Comedy" following an order from New York.
The creation of Mickey Mouse took place in 1928 and his first starring role was in a silent cartoon called ’ Plane Crazy’ . However, before the cartoon was released, the motion picture industry developed sound and Mickey’ s screen debut was in Steamboat Willie which premiered in New York in November 1928.
As technological advances were made, Walt achieved his first personal Academy Award for his production of Flowers and Tress in 1932. In December of that same year, Snow White and the Severn Dwarfs premiered in Los Angeles and was produced at an unprecedented cost of $1, 499, 000. Other full length classics such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi soon followed and Walt’ s position at the top of the movie making world was firmly established.
Walt Disney’ s themepark ideas began at an early age and he always had a dream to create a park where families could have fun together. Initial plans were just 8 acres of land, although it was quickly realised this would not be enough when construction began on Disneyland California in 1954. The elaborate theme park opened it’ s doors to the public on July 17th, 1955.
Following the success of Disneyland, visions of a much bigger scale formed in Walt’ s mind and he decided to create a new world in the East. 27, 000 acres of swampland were purchased in Florida in 1964/65. Walt called this new park Disneyworld, but brother Roy changed the name to Walt Disney World following Walt’ s untimely death in December 1966.
Walt sadly never saw his dream become reality, but his plans were followed by Roy Disney and included a Magic Kingdom and a city of the future Walt had called Epcot - experimental prototype community of tomorrow. He dreamed of Epcot displaying all possible scientific advances available to mankind.
Walt Disney World in Orlando opened it’ s gates to the public on October 1st 1971 and is today the most popular theme park destination in world, covering an astounding 350, 000 acres or 47 square miles.
Walt was the man behind the dream and Roy continued manifesting the dream and, thanks to the Disney family, the magic of Walt Disney World will sprinkle happiness and pixiedust over visitors for generations to come.
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