Disney is the birthplace of magic, imagination, and absolute delight. Not to mention being the homeland of everybody’s childhood favourite animated films! Simply hearing the name Disney brings back nostalgic feelings from our past and takes us back in time to a place where dreams come true.
The company has accompanied the childhoods of many generations with its enduring stories, everlasting characters, and unprecedented entertainment, enthralling audiences of all ages throughout the world.
However, it is not only the animated films that make Disney what it is; the impact of the mass media and entertainment conglomerate is so much more than that. There are theme parks that offer millions of visitors unforgettable trips to enchanted realms filled with thrilling adventures and their loved characters.
There are also Disney’s streaming platforms and numerous TV channels, including the Disney Channels, that witnessed the inceptions of many A-lister artists. The list of different divisions and companies owned by Disney is LONG, but what else can you expect from a century-old entity? That’s right, the company has been around for 100 years, and the celebration of Disney 100 is just around the corner, and we are here to tell you all about it.
As we celebrate the Disney 100, we pay homage to the creativity, ingenuity, and brilliant narrative skills that have helped the company become a significant part of our lives. From the wonder of Mickey Mouse to the epic adventures of Marvel superheroes, let’s dive in!
The Walt Disney Company: The Birth of Mickey Mouse!
In honour of the celebration of Disney 100, we are pausing to consider the incredible history of a business conglomerate that has built lifelong relationships with audiences throughout the world. To paint a comprehensive picture of the Walt Disney Company’s rise to prominence, we must start from the very beginning, going through the challenges and milestones that shaped the company’s journey.
So, once upon a time, on 16 October 1923, there was a young American businessman and animator who goes by the name of Walter Elias Disney, or simply Walt Disney. Being the magnificent man he was, Walt Disney set off on a fantastical quest that would forever alter the face of entertainment.
He had no idea that the small animation business he and his brother Roy Oliver had started would grow into a worldwide sensation that would still enthral and inspire audiences a century later. Walt Disney is widely considered the father of the American animation industry, and he is, without a doubt, the most successful animator in the history of motion pictures.
The company’s century-long journey has been one of invention, inspiration, and magic, starting with the creation of what would become the company’s greatest symbol: the mascot Mickey Mouse.
Created in 1928, Mickey Mouse starred in the animated short film Plane Crazy (1928) before going on to star in Steamboat Willie (1928), the company’s first sound cartoon, which was an absolute success and Mickey swiftly became a recognisable emblem of the company.
Next Step: Forever Altering the Animation Scene!
Walt Disney’s creative attitude helped create the first-ever full-length animated picture through the 1930s and 1940s, like the company’s first colour short film, Flowers and Trees (1932), which won the Oscar for the best animated short film that same year. Also in that year, Walt received an honorary Oscar for creating Mickey Mouse.
In the mid-1930s, Walt once again made a breakthrough. He wanted to create his first animated feature film in colour, and after two years of hard work, the world welcomed the beloved Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which was the highest-grossing film of all time at that time.
The company followed that with the release of Pinocchio (1940), which garnered two Oscars for Best Song and Best Score. The following period in the company’s history was a tough one as it lost some of its best animators because of the five-week strike they went on, and to make things worse, the company’s next film, Fantasia (1940), performed poorly at the box office.
The two brothers did their best to come back from these severe financial losses, and in 1941 the company released Dumbo (1941), and then it was Bambi’s turn (1942) and more amusing films that used full-length animated pictures in that period.
The company branched out into live-action films and television in the 1950s and 1960s, expanding its creative horizons beyond animation. The very first live-action film by Disney was Treasure Island (1950), which was an absolute success.
As the years went by, the company introduced enduring characters in films like Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953) and Sleeping Beauty (1959), who won millions of hearts by pushing the limits of narrative. The studio’s dedication to development was further demonstrated by the use of synchronised sound in animation and the debut of Technicolour, both of which set new standards for the animation business.
At the same time, great animation films kept on coming, too, like One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), which brought fantastical settings full of wonder, enchantment, and a memorable soundtrack.
By the 1960s, the Walt Disney Studios were more than established. During these years, film production continued, and the accolades did not stop coming. Walt kept on pushing the limits, and perhaps one of his most daring gambles was Mary Poppins in 1964, the first with real actors from his factory.
Walt worked until the last day of his life. In 1966, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, the same cancer that would cost him his life on 15 December of the same year.
The last two films that had the magical touch of Walt before his death were the animation film The Jungle Book and the live-action The Happiest Millionaire, which were both released in 1967. After Walt’s death, the company focused on live-action films more, and it wasn’t until 1970 that the first animated film after Walt’s death was released.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Disney animation entered a new phase, receiving high praise from critics with films like The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and The Lion King (1994), which have become global sensations, enthralling audiences of every generation and changing the animated picture genre.
Disney’s New Millennium
The time period from the late 2000s to the present is considered Disney’s modern era. During this time, the business has continued to develop and grow in a variety of creative and technical ways. The company’s 2006 purchase of Pixar Animation Studios signalled a crucial turning point.
By strategically bringing Pixar’s creative expertise and cutting-edge computer-generated animation franchise under the Disney banner, a series of critically acclaimed and financially successful films saw the light of day, like Cars (2006), Up (2009), and Brave (2012).
The acquisitions kept on coming, and in 2009, the conglomerate also bought Marvel Entertainment, giving them access to a sizable collection of well-known superhero characters. Similar to this, when the company purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, the venerable Star Wars property joined the Disney family, giving rise to new motion pictures, television shows, and thrilling adventures.
The company invested in the live-action adaptations of its beloved animation classics, producing films like Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Jungle Book (2016), and Beauty and the Beast (2017). These films have brought in new viewers while giving well-known storylines and characters a modern touch. Disney has also broadened its canon with spin-offs, prologues, and follow-ups, as shown in the Maleficent (2014) films and the live-action adaptation of Aladdin (2019).
Keeping Up With the Change!
Keeping up with the cultural and social changes, the company has taken steps to be more inclusive and support diversity and representation of cultures in its films and other programmes.
This was clear with the new princesses Disney introduced in films like Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013), which had compelling female characters and catchy music. Frozen broke box-office records and became a global sensation thanks to the hit song “Let It Go.” Also, films like Moana (2016), Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), and Encanto (2021) have championed cultures that were underrepresented and featured varied leads.
Moreover, the company took a huge step in the technology era by launching its streaming service, Disney+, in 2019, and it rapidly became well-known. Along with exclusive content, Disney+ provides access to a huge catalogue of films and TV series from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. The conglomerate’s material is now mostly distributed through the platform, which has been opening up new narrative opportunities.
Disney Theme Parks!
The charm of Disney’s stories and characters is not only brought to life in films but also at the theme parks, which are well-known tourist destinations. These captivating and immersive settings engage guests in the realms of their favourite Disney films giving them a unique journey.
It all started on 18 July 1955, when the doors of Anaheim, California’s first Disney theme park, were initially opened. It established the bar for theme park architecture and paved the path for the construction of more parks across the world. Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Frontierland are just a few of the themed lands found at Disneyland. Each land has distinct activities, shows, and food choices for guests of all ages.
The conglomerate’s largest and most extensive theme park resort is called Walt Disney World Resort, and it is situated in Orlando, Florida. The resort has four main theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Disneyland-inspired Magic Kingdom has well-known attractions, including Cinderella Castle, while Epcot displays cutting-edge technology, diverse cultures, and exhilarating attractions, such as the well-known Spaceship Earth and World Showcase.
The company’s Hollywood Studios has attractions like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land that completely engross visitors in the realm of films and television. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which houses attractions like Pandora: The World of Avatar and Kilimanjaro Safaris, mixes animal conservation with immersive experiences.
The company’s theme parks are renowned for their meticulous attention to every detail, first-rate amusement, and superior levels of guest care. A wide variety of delectable foods are available, as well as thrilling rides, character meet-and-greets, beautiful parades, and fireworks displays. The parks also have themed regions and immersive worlds that reproduce the backdrops of well-known Disney films, letting visitors immerse themselves in their favourite narratives.
The company has added novel ideas in addition to the typical theme park experiences, such as its water parks, such as Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, and themed resort hotels that provide visitors with a full Disney adventure from the minute they arrive.
Disney 100 Celebration
From 22 September through 31 December 2023, the Walt Disney World Resort will host the official Disney 100 Celebration, which honours the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. The celebration began earlier on 27 January at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.
One month later, in February 2023, the company released a teaser titled “Disney100 – Special Look”, which showed scenes from iconic films, series, plays, parks and fans. The teaser also featured words from Walt Disney himself that evoked nostalgia and shared memories that have placed Disney in a very special place in the hearts of audiences around the world.
As for the Disney 100 decoration, as expected, the company did a magnificent job attracting fans from all over the world. As you make it to the resort, you’ll see that additional fairy dust has been sprinkled everywhere because of the Disneyland Resort’s glittering platinum and purple Disney 100 ornamentation and many others.
These decorations include a new platinum Mickey Mouse sculpture and a sizable mural starring your favourite protagonists along the pathway to the World Showcase. Besides that, a number of spectacular events featuring live performances, concerts, and theatrical plays will take place.
Audiences will be transported to the enchanted realms and incomparable songs that have come to be recognised with the company’s heritage, in everything from Broadway-style performances to symphony orchestra interpretations of many of the company’s classic soundtracks.
Since there is no such thing as a party with no food and beverages, the company will provide collector items like the Platinum Mickey Sipper and the Platinum Mickey Balloon Popcorn Bucket. In addition to delicious new food and drinks for their 100th anniversary, such as Lemon Tea Cake, the Disney 100 Minnie chocolate cake pop, Platinum Trifle, and Disney 100 Blue Bayou Champagne Glass.
Moreover, for its 100th anniversary, the company will continuously release new collections of souvenirs and seasonal items, like the brand-new Disney100: The Eras: Walt Disney Studios Collection”. This collection contains collectables, including brand-new jerseys, fluffy toys, and mouse ear headbands.
This once-in-a-lifetime celebration of Disney 100-year history will serve as a tribute to the enduring value of creativity, the delight of storytelling, and the influence of treasured memories. It acts as a remembrance of the enchantment that won over the hearts of millions of people and will continue to motivate future generations to have faith in themselves and to have big dreams.
There is no denying that Disney is a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world, enthralling audiences and generating wonderful experiences all over the world as it pushes the limits and pursues new creative possibilities throughout the past century. With such a rich history, we are sure that the Disney 100 celebration will definitely be a mesmerizing one that will go down in history as another accomplishment for Disney!