Surprising Facts About: Disney

Millions of people around the world have at least one cherished childhood memory involving a Walt Disney film or character—the appeal is simply universal, and somewhere in the massive catalogue of Disney branded works there’s a story for you as well One that can inspire you, warm your heart, make you laugh, or just remind you not to forget to wish upon a star once in a while

But as for the legendary man behind the entertainment powerhouse, there’s plenty more to him than meets the eye Here are some surprising facts you may not already know about Walt Disney and the global brand that he created Walt Disney was born in 1901 as the fourth of five children in a Chicago home built by his father’s own two hands It was this same self-made attitude which would carry Walt through all of the successes and setbacks during his life According to his family, Walt’s favorite meal was two cans of Hormel and Gebhardt’s chili mixed together, with lemon Jell-O for dessert

Despite his creative genius, Walt Disney “never had any knack for business” according to his brother Roy—a fact that would return to haunt him throughout his career Walt Disney Animation Studios wasn’t actually Disney’s first business venture In 1919, after a brief stint in France with the Red Cross, Walt moved to Kansas City, Missouri—where he developed his passion for art by taking a job as a newspaper artist Within the next two years he began investigating cel animation and founded an animation studio, where he produced the Laugh-O-Grams series of cartoons By 1923, the studio was forced to declare bankruptcy, proving that failure is just another twist on the path to success

Perseverance is key, my friends Disney was also a trend-setter in the realm of television, creating popular children’s programming like Zorro and Davy Crockett as well as The Mickey Mouse Club, which spawned the Mouseketeers and saw a modern revival in the early nineties Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake are all former members of the Mouseketeers, just to name a few contemporary celebrities who had they early careers propelled by Disney and the House of Mouse Walt Disney wasn’t afraid to get involved with political issues, stirring controversy as one of the founders of the anti-communist group Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals He also produced many pieces of animated propaganda during World War II—ranging from anti-Hitler pieces to encouraging the timely payment of taxes in order to bolster the war effort

However, Disney firmly stated that outside of very specific instances during wartime he and his team “work hard to see that nothing of that sort creeps in” The quality control folks at Disney can be ruthless “Part of Your World” was almost cut from The Little Mermaid and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was almost removed from The Lion King Beyoncé refused to audition for the role of Princess Tiana and simply expected to be offered the role She lost the role to her “Dreamgirls” co-star Anika Noni Rose

The people who voiced Minnie and Mickey Mouse were married in real life When Walt Disney was given an Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it was presented to him as one normal-sized statuette and seven miniature Oscars Before Disney created the famous mouse mascot, he had Oswald the Lucky Rabbit But for Walt, Oswald was anything but lucky—after being hired by Universal in 1927 to develop the character, and using Oswald for two years in 26 different cartoons, Disney discovered that he didn’t actually retain any rights to the character as an asset for use in his own works Ownership of Oswald was completely usurped by another party shortly thereafter, so Walt proceeded to conceive a new character which would be wholly his—a happy-go-lucky, steamboat piloting mouse by the name of Mickey

Almost eighty years later, Oswald rejoined his younger brother under the Walt Disney Animation Studios banner A tireless worker, Walt Disney was the creative force driving the teams behind more than six hundred cartoons, both feature length and short form As ranked by Forbes, the Disney brand is the 11th most valuable brand in the world as of 2015 It is also the most valuable brand in the leisure industry Disneyland was a passion project for Walt’s namesake, who dreamed of an idyllic place for wholesome family fun—where children could be themselves and adults could be kids again

It wasn’t to be just another amusement park, but a celebration of mid-20th century America and a magical place where dreams could come true It opened to the public on July 17th, 1955 The site where the park was built in Anaheim, California, was formerly an orange grove Nestled in the heart of Disneyland’s New Orleans Square is a secretive club Disney created for VIPs and discerning visitors to the park, called Club 33, inspired by the private VIP lounges he visited at the 1964 World’s Fair Becoming the member of the club is an appropriately exclusive process, requiring a written letter of inquiry which places you on a wait list for an opening, but promises world-class dining and a place of refuge for park visitors who grow wearied of the traffic outside

Near the front of the park, on the second floor of the Main Street Firehouse, Walt arranged for the construction of a special apartment for himself and his family to stay To this day, a light remains lit in the window as a tribute to him There are now Disneyland parks operating in Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai—bringing Walt’s vision to the rest of the world This also means the sun is always shining on at least one Disney park Oh and there is a small basketball court inside the Matterhorn at Disneyland, California

But there’s also a dark side to Disneyland Numerous people have died at Disney parks In 1966 a teenager was killed whilst attempting to sneak into Disneyland by climbing onto the monorail track He was struck by the train and dragged 12 metres down the track, despite a security guard yelling at him the whole time to stop In fact, staff at the Haunted Mansion rides at Disney parks have to constantly be on the lookout for people dumping ashes

Strangely, having one’s ashes scattered on the ride is a popular request, obviously Disney aren’t overly pleased about the trend In 1970 yippies took over Tom Sawyer island at Disneyland to stage a smoke-in to protest Disneyland’s dress code Disney was not amused They closed the park early and called in the riot police Ever the innovator, in 1937 Walt Disney pioneered the use of a new type of camera for filming animation—one which allowed for greater depth to reinforce the illusion of the action on-screen occurring in three dimensions

The result was the “multiplane camera”, first tested in one of Disney’s Silly Symphony shorts before being used in the filming of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs The success of Snow White spawned what would be remembered as the “Golden Age of Animation”, as Walt Disney gained the financial stability and public confidence necessary to produce more films destined to become classics like Pinocchio and Fantasia The California Institute of the Arts was the brainchild of Walt Disney, who dreamed of a school for the performing and visual arts where fellow artists could learn from and encourage one another The staggering list of noteworthy CalArts alumni includes animation legends Arlene Klasky, Tim Burton, Lauren Faust, and one whom many consider to be Walt Disney’s spiritual successor: John Lasseter, the acting chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios To date, Walt Disney has received the most Oscars out of any multiple Oscar recipient, holding twenty-two of the prestigious awards for his creative work

He also holds the record for most Academy Award nominations, with fifty-nine nominations to his credit His last Academy Award was granted posthumously Seven of Walt Disney’s films have been deemed so culturally significant to the United States that they were selected for preservation by the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress Among their number are Mary Poppins, Steamboat Willie, and Bambi Decades of smoking eventually caught up with Walt on November 11th of 1966, when doctors discovered a walnut sized lump on his left lung

By the time it was discovered the tumor had metastasized, prompting the lung’s removal He died on December 15th, 1966 of acute circulatory collapse caused by the lung cancer Rumors persist that Disney wasn’t actually cremated as claimed by his family, but instead had his body cryogenically frozen and tucked away for safekeeping beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, California—presumably to be resuscitated at a later date, once medical technology progressed sufficiently Perhaps Tomorrowland was simply a conceptual testing ground for living in the future?

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Thoughty2 (Arran) is a British YouTuber and gatekeeper of useless facts. Thoughty2 creates mind-blowing factual videos, on the weirdest, wackiest and most interesting topics. Combining fascinating lists with answers to life's biggest questions.

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