At present, when one mentions the Walt Disney Company, one automatically thinks about the huge media conglomerate known for their epic theme parks and PG film and TV offerings. But you should know that before the Walt Disney Company became the influential media and entertainment force it is today, it started from more humble beginnings. We’ve compiled a short list of the interesting facts that many people don’t know about the Walt Disney Company.
Lesser-Known Facts About the Walt Disney Company
1. It’s soon to celebrate its centennial.
That’s right—the company is nearly a hundred years old as it was founded way back on October 16, 1923, by the brothers Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney. Its original name was “Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio” and was first active in the animation industry before expanding their interests to live action film production. It wasn’t until 1986 when the company adopted its present name.
2. The company’s first film was Alice’s Wonderland.
During the early phases of his career, Walt Disney was focused on producing short animations. At some point he wanted to explore his creative options more so he visualized creating a short film that merged animation with live actors. That film was Alice’s Wonderland, which featured the child actress Virginia Davis as Alice. It was also this film that spurred Walt Disney to move to Hollywood so he could be closer to his brother, Roy.
3. Walt Disney’s first character was not a mouse but a rabbit.
Contrary to many opinions, Disney’s first original character was not Mickey Mouse, although it is for that character that Walt Disney is best known. His first character was a rabbit named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which appeared in a series of silent animations until 1928; it was when Walt Disney lost the rights for the character due to a legal dispute with the distributor. It was then that he created Mortimer Mouse, later renamed Mickey Mouse, the character for which he would become famous for.
4. The first feature-length animated film was produced by Disney.
Despite his success creating short animated films, Walt Disney wasn’t sure how the public would receive the world’s first ever feature-length animated film, titled Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was really a gamble on his part, and it did not help that many film critics were doubtful about its potential. Thankfully, the film proved to be successful, both commercially and critically. It grossed $66 million dollars during its initial release, which was a huge amount at the time. It was re-released many times over the years, proving that its appeal transcended generations.
5. Many of Disney’s films have grossed more than $1 billion at the box office.
In a time of Netflix, digital streaming, and increasing cinema ticket prices, reaching the $1 billion mark at the box office is already an astounding achievement. Not all Hollywood mainstream films achieve that kind of success, and only a select few get to be part of the elite list of billion-dollar earners. But Walt Disney has proven its massive influence on the movie-going public, with six of its films going beyond that elusive billion-dollar mark in 2019 alone: Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Marvel, and Frozen 2.