The Walt Disney Company (Template:NYSE) is the third largest media and entertainment corporation in the world, after News Corporation and Time Warner. Founded on October 16, 1923 by brothers Walt and Roy Disney as a small animation studio, it has become one of the biggest Hollywood studios, and owner of eleven theme parks and several television networks, including the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The works of the Disney Company are the most translated works in the world, according to the Index Translationum.

Disney's corporate headquarters and primary production facilities are located in California at the Walt Disney Studios (Burbank).

The company is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.


Studio entertainment

Until 1955, Disney's only business was motion picture production. Disney Studio Entertainment, often known as the Walt Disney Studios, includes Disney's movie and animation studios, record labels, and Broadway style stage shows.

Since 2002, it has been headed by chairman Dick Cook.

Media networks

Its Media Networks unit is centered around the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network, which it acquired through a merger with Capital Cities/ABC in 1996. Properties include:

Disney also owns a group of cable networks including:

Disney also holds substantial interest in Lifetime (50%), A&E (37.5%), E! (40%, recently sold to Comcast), and Jetix Europe N.V. (74%). Disney also owns 25% of the GMTV company that operates the Breakfast Programmes on ITV, in the UK and 50% of Super RTL in Germany.

Through ABC, Disney also owns 10 local television stations, 2 local radio stations, and ESPN Radio, and Radio Disney. Although the ABC Radio Network was sold with other properties to Citadel Broadcasting, (which carries such radio personalities as Sean Hannity and Paul Harvey and distributes news bulletins by ABC News), Disney shareholders now own 57% of Citadel. Disney-ABC Domestic Television, which also is a part of the Media Networks unit, produces such syndicated television programs as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Live with Regis and Kelly, and At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper.

Disney also operates its own publishing company, Hyperion, and Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) through Media Networks. Hyperion has recently published books by comedian-author Steve Martin and bestselling author Mitch Albom. WDIG includes the web portal, Infoseek search engine which it purchased in 1998, and leading websites such as,, and In March 2007, it was reported that Disney is launching a new Web site, Disney Family, which is a one-stop site for parents. [1]

Film and television library

The Walt Disney Company owns a large and substantial film and television library.

  • The theatrical films and television shows produced by the Walt Disney label, Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures, Pixar and Miramax;
  • The pre-2005 Dimension films library.
  • After its purchase of ABC/Capital Cities, the company gained rights to most of its theatrical and television film library (including most of the Selznick International Pictures and Selmur Productions films) and a good mount of the Pre-Disney ABC television shows.
  • In 2004, Disney bought the Muppet (The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie) and Bear in the Big Blue House brands and libraries from The Jim Henson Company.
  • Disney also bought individual films as well such as the 1940 version of Swiss Family Robinson from RKO and the silent film version of Peter Pan previously released by Paramount Pictures.

Consumer products

Disney parks

Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney World Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort

Note: Included for reference only. Tokyo Disneyland is not a holding of the Walt Disney Company, rather a licensed franchise operated by The Oriental Land Company.

Disneyland Paris Resort

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort


Founding and early success (1922–1966)

  • 1923: Walt signed a contract with M.J. Winkler to produce a series of Alice Comedies - October 16 - the date used as the start of the Disney company. Originally know as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, with brothers Walt and Roy Disney, as equal partners.[2]
  • 1924: First Alice comedy, "Alice's Day at Sea", released.
  • 1926: At Roy's suggestion, the company changed its name to the Walt Disney Studio shortly after moving into the new studio on Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake district.
  • 1927: The Alice series ends; first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon.
  • 1928: Walt loses the Oswald series contract; first Mickey Mouse cartoon, "Steamboat Willie", released at the Colony Theatre in New York, the first cartoon with sound on November 18.
  • 1929: First Silly Symphony, "The Skeleton Dance". On December 16, the original partnership formed in 1923 is replaced by Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. Three other companies, Walt Disney Enterprises, Disney Film Recording Company, and Liled Realty and Investment Company, are also formed.
  • 1930: First appearance of Pluto.
  • 1932: First three-strip Technicolor short released: "Flowers and Trees"; first appearance of Goofy.
  • 1934: First Walt Disney segment released: "The Hot Choco-Late Soldiers" from Hollywood Party; first appearance of Donald Duck.
  • 1937: Studio produces its first full-length feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The film is also the first American animated feature film in history, and was the highest-grossing film of all time until 1939's Gone with the Wind.
  • 1938: On September 29, Walt Disney Enterprises, Disney Film Recording Company, and Liled Realty and Investment Company are merged into Walt Disney Productions.
  • 1940: Studio moves to the Burbank, California buildings where it is located to this day. Release of animated features Pinocchio, the first animated film to win both Best Original Score and Best Song Academy Awards, and Fantasia, the first film to be recorded in stereophonic sound ("Fantasound").
  • 1941: A bitter animators' strike occurs; as the USA enters World War II, the studio begins making morale-boosting propaganda films for the government. Dumbo is released.
  • 1942: Saludos Amigos marks the beginning of a series of low-budget "package" animated films that would continue until 1950. Bambi is also released, after a six-year production period.
  • 1943: Saludos Amigos is released in the United States.
  • 1944: The company is short on cash; a theatrical re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs generates much-needed revenue and begins a reissue pattern for the animated feature films.
  • 1945: For the first time, the studio hires live actors for a feature film (Song of the South).
  • 1947: Sign First Independent Studio, The byrnest studio in Orlando which went bankrupt three years later.
  • 1949: The studio begins production on its first all-live action feature, Treasure Island; the popular True-Life Adventures series begins.
  • 1950: Cinderella is released, ending the series of "package" animated films and reviving Disney feature animation.
  • 1951: Alice in Wonderland (1951 film) released.
  • 1952: Walt Disney forms WED Enterprises on December 16 to design his theme park.
  • 1953: Walt Disney forms Retlaw Enterprises on April 6 to control the rights to his name. It will later own and operate several attractions inside Disneyland, including the Monorail and the Disneyland Railroad. Peter Pan is released.
  • 1954: The studio founds Buena Vista Distribution to distribute its feature films; beginning of the Disneyland TV program, which runs for decades under several different titles. Disney becomes one of the first American theatrical TV producers to show his recent films on television, although most of them are first shown in truncated versions to fit a one-hour time slot. Others are divided into two or more one-hour segments over several weeks, so that they can be shown on Disney's TV show.
  • 1955: Disneyland Resort opens in Anaheim, California. Lady and the Tramp, the first widescreen animated film, is released
  • 1957: Walt Disney Productions went public on November 12.
  • 1959: Sleeping Beauty (1959 film) is released.
  • 1961: One Hundred and One Dalmatians is released, the first feature-length animated film to use Xerography.
  • 1963: The Sword and the Stone is released.
  • 1964: Mary Poppins is released.
  • 1966: Walt Disney dies of lung cancer.

After Walt's death (1967-1983)

Eisner era (1984–2005)

Iger era (2005–Present)

Senior Executive Management

Current board of directors

Current division heads

Chairmen of the Board

Vice Chairman of the Board



The formal position of Chief Operating Officer was not created until Wells and Eisner came in with Eisner taking the titles of Chairman and CEO and Wells, President and COO.


  • Disney has on several occasions prompted action from religious groups such as the Catholic League, due to insensitive broadcasting, and the release of films which the league and others found very insulting to certain religions. Disney has in the past faced boycotts from baptist groups, "Assemblies of God", and Catholic groups. (boycott 1;boycott 2;boycott 3)
  • The worldwide commercial success of the Disney brand is viewed by some as detrimental to cultural diversity (see Disneyfication).
  • Disney is one among several American companies lobbying for harsher enforcement of intellectual property around the world and continued copyright term extensions, posing a perceived threat to the existence of the public domain; see Copyright Term Extension Act.
  • Disney has been accused of human rights violations regarding the working conditions in factories that produce their merchandise. [6][7]
  • Disney has been criticized by animal welfare groups for its import, use and frequent deaths of wild animals at its Animal Kingdom theme park[8] as well as for using purebred dogs in movies such as 101 Dalmatians, which these groups claim leads to creating an artificial demand for these purebred dogs many of whom are later abandoned or surrendered to shelters or rescue groups[9].

Allegation of subliminal messages

In 1995, Anna Rouge brought the allegation of the letters S-E-X written in the dust within The Lion King to the attention of a conservative anti-abortion group known as the American Life League (ALL).[10][11] ALL spokesperson Tracey Casale weighed in on the issue and said "the message in The Lion King ... it is not fun."[11] ALL made these allegations public, which led to an article by the Associated Press. ALL eventually led a protest of The Walt Disney Company, demanding that the offending movies be removed from both rental and store shelves, and the movies should then be fixed to exclude any messages that exist in them. ALL also demanded a formal and public apology from the Disney.[10] Eugene Emery of the Skeptical Enquirer, called this media attention the "subliminal silly season", lampooning the whole idea and stating:

"the subliminal message issue is not going away as long as reporters and editors don't do their homework and are willing to let their own and the public's primal fear of magical messages override good editorial judgment."[12]

This, however, was later proved as a mistake. Special Effects department that worked on the sequence claimed that the letters written in the dust were actually "S.F.X". This was meant to be a sort of a signature from the department and the controversy that followed was entirely unintentional.


Additional Sources

See also


  • Walt Disney: An American Original, Bob Thomas, 1976, revised 1994
  • The Story of Walt Disney, Diane Disney Miller & Pete Martin, 1957
  • Cult of the Mouse: Can We Stop Corporate Greed from Killing Innovation in America?, Henry M. Caroselli, 2004, Ten Speed Press, ISBN
  • The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney, Richard Schickel, 1968, revised 1997, ISBN
  • The Man Behind the Magic; the Story of Walt Disney, Katherine & Richard Greene, 1991, revised 1998
  • Disney: The Mouse Betrayed, Peter Schweizer
  • Storming the Magic Kingdom: Wall Street, the raiders, and the battle for Disney, John Taylor, 1987, [1], [2], ISBN ISBN
  • Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire, Bob Thomas, 1998, ISBN
  • How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic ISBN 0-88477-023-0 (Anti-Disney Marxist Critique) Ariel Dorfman, Armand Mattelart, David Kunzle
  • Donald Duck Joins Up; the Walt Disney Studio During World War II, Richard Shale, 1982
  • The Keys to the Kingdom: How Michael Eisner Lost His Grip, Kim Masters, 20, ISBN
  • Building a Dream; The Art of Disney Architecture, Beth Dunlop, 1996
  • Disneyization of Society: Alan Bryman, 2004, ISBN
  • DisneyWar, James B. Stewart, 2005, ISBN, ISBN
  • Married to the Mouse, Richard E. Foglesorg, Yale University Press.
  • Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records, Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar, 2006, ISBN
  • Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland, David Koenig, 1994, revised 2005, ISBN 0-9640605-4-X
  • Inside the Dream: The Personal Story of Walt Disney, Katherine Greene & Richard Greene, 2001, ISBN
  • Team Rodent, Carl Hiassen.
  • Disneyana: Walt Disney Collectibles, Cecil Munsey, 1974

External links