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The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Disney (), is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered at the Walt Disney Studios complex in
Burbank Burbank may refer to: Places Australia * Burbank, Queensland, a suburb in Brisbane United States * Burbank, California, a city in Los Angeles County * Burbank, Santa Clara County, California, a census-designated place * Burbank, Illinois, a ci ...
,
California California is a state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the most populous and the third-largest U.S. state by area. It is also the most populated subnational entity in N ...
. Disney was originally founded on October 16, 1923, by brothers
Walt Walt is a masculine given name, generally a short form of Walter, and occasionally a surname. Notable people with the name include: People Given name * Walt Arfons (1916-2013), American drag racer and competition land speed record racer * Walt Bell ...
and
Roy O. Disney Roy Oliver Disney (; June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971) was an American businessman and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company. He was the older brother of Walt Disney. Biography Early life Roy was born to Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Dis ...
as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio; it also operated under the names The Walt Disney Studio and Walt Disney Productions before officially changing its name to The Walt Disney Company in 1986. The company established itself as a leader in the
American animation Modern animation of the United States from the late 1980s to late 1990s is referred to as the "renaissance age of American animation". During this period, many large American entertainment companies reformed and reinvigorated their animation depar ...
industry before diversifying into live-action film production, television, and theme parks. Since the 1980s, Disney has created and acquired corporate divisions in order to market more mature content than is typically associated with its flagship family-oriented brands. The company is known for its
film studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a major entertainment company or motion picture company that has its own privately owned studio facility or facilities that are used to make films, which is handled by the production c ...
division,
The Walt Disney StudiosWalt Disney Studios may refer to: * Walt Disney Studio (1926–1929) the second name of The Walt Disney Company * Walt Disney Studios (division), the Walt Disney Company's Studio Entertainment unit, which includes Disney's motion picture studios, mus ...
, which includes
Walt Disney Pictures Walt Disney Pictures is an American film production studio that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. The studio is the flagship producer of live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Studios un ...
,
Walt Disney Animation Studios Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS), sometimes shortened to Disney Animation, is an American animation studio that creates animated features and short films for The Walt Disney Company. The company's production logo has a scene from the very fir ...
,
Pixar Pixar Animation Studios () is an American computer animation studio known for its critically and commercially successful feature films. It is based in Emeryville, California, and is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios owned by The Walt Disney Co ...
,
Marvel Studios Marvel Studios, LLC (originally known as Marvel Films from 1993 to 1996) is an American film and television studio that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. Marvel Studios is known for the production of ...
,
Lucasfilm Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC is an American film and television production company that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, which is a business segment of The Walt Disney Company. The studio is best known for creating and producing the ''Star Wars'' and ...
,
20th Century Studios 20th Century Studios, Inc. (also known as 20th Century for short, and nicknamed 20th Pictures, formerly Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation) is an American film studio that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Dis ...
, and
Searchlight Pictures Searchlight Pictures, Inc. (formerly Fox Searchlight Pictures) is an American film studio within Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company, that focuses primarily on producing, distributing, and acquiring specialty films. Sear ...
. Disney's other main business units include divisions in television, broadcasting, streaming media, theme park resorts, consumer products, publishing, and international operations. Through these various segments, Disney owns and operates the ABC broadcast network; cable television networks such as
Disney Channel Disney Channel (originally called The Disney Channel from 1983 to 1997 and commonly shortened to Disney from 1997 to 2002) is an American pay television channel that serves as the flagship property of owner Disney Branded Television, a unit of ...
,
ESPN ESPN (originally an initialism for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is an American multinational basic cable sports channel owned by ESPN Inc., owned jointly by The Walt Disney Company (80%) and Hearst Communications (20%). The com ...

ESPN
, Freeform, FX, and
National Geographic ''National Geographic'' (formerly the ''National Geographic Magazine'', sometimes branded as NAT GEO) is the long-lived official monthly magazine of the National Geographic Society. It is one of the most widely read magazines of all time. Over ...
; publishing, merchandising, music, and theater divisions;
direct-to-consumer Direct-to-consumer (DTC) refers to selling products directly to customers, bypassing any third-party retailers, wholesalers, or any other middlemen. DTC brands are usually sold online only and specialize in a specific product category: Casper, ...
streaming services such as
Disney+ Disney+ (pronounced Disney Plus) is an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming service owned and operated by the Media and Entertainment Distribution division of The Walt Disney Company. The service primarily distributes fi ...
,
Hulu Hulu () (stylized in all lowercase) is an American subscription video on demand service fully controlled and majority-owned by The Walt Disney Company, with Comcast's NBCUniversal as an equity stakeholder. The service was initially established ...
,
ESPN+ ESPN+ (pronounced ESPN Plus) is an American over-the-top subscription video streaming service available in the United States, owned by Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, in partnership with ESPN Inc., which is a joint venture between T ...

ESPN+
, and
Hotstar Hotstar (also known as Disney+ Hotstar in certain countries) is an Indian subscription video on-demand streaming service owned and operated by Star India, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company India. The service primarily features content from ...
; and
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Inc., formerly Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and informally known as Disney Parks, is one of The Walt Disney Company's six major business segments and a subsidiary. It was founded on April ...
, a group of 14 theme parks, resort hotels, and cruise lines around the world. Cartoon character
Mickey Mouse Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studios, who serves as the mascot of the Walt Disney Company. An anthropomorphic mouse who typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and ...
, created in 1928 by Walt Disney and
Ub Iwerks Ubbe Eert "Ub" Iwwerks (; March 24, 1901 – July 7, 1971) was an American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician, who designed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. Iwerks produced alongside Wa ...
, is one of the world's most recognizable characters and serves as the company's official mascot. The company, which trades on the
New York Stock Exchange The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, nicknamed "The Big Board") is an American stock exchange in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed comp ...
(NYSE) under DIS stock symbol, has been a component of the
Dow Jones Industrial Average The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), Dow Jones, or simply the Dow (), is a stock market index that measures the stock performance of 30 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. Although the DJIA is one of the oldest ...
since 1991. In August 2020, just under two-thirds of the stock was owned by large
financial institutions Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are corporations that provide services as intermediaries of financial markets. Broadly speaking, there are three major types of financial institutions: # Depository institutions ...
.


Corporate history


1923–1928: Founding and silent film era

In early 1923,
Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City (abbreviated KC or KCMO) is the largest city in Missouri by population and area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city had an estimated population of 495,327 in 2019, making it the 38th most-populous city in the United State ...
, animator
Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor, and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of ca ...
created a short film entitled ''
Alice's Wonderland ''Alice's Wonderland'' is a 1923 Walt Disney short silent film, produced in Kansas City, Missouri by Laugh-O-Gram Studio. The black-and-white short was the first in a series of Walt Disney's famous ''Alice Comedies'' and had a working title of ''A ...
'', which featured child actress
Virginia Davis Virginia Davis (December 31, 1918 – August 15, 2009) was an American child actress in films. She is best known for working with Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks on the animated short series Alice Comedies, which she portrayed as Alice. Biography Dav ...
interacting with animated characters. After the bankruptcy in 1923 of his previous firm,
Laugh-O-Gram Studio thumbtime=2, ''Jack the Giant Killer'' Laugh-O-Gram Studio was a short-lived film studio that ran from June 1921 to 1923, located on the second floor of the McConahay Building at 1127 East 31st in Kansas City, Missouri. In the early years of an ...
, Disney moved to Hollywood to join his brother,
Roy O. Disney Roy Oliver Disney (; June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971) was an American businessman and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company. He was the older brother of Walt Disney. Biography Early life Roy was born to Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Dis ...
. Film distributor Margaret J. Winkler of M.J. Winkler Productions contacted Disney with plans to distribute a whole series of ''
Alice Comedies The ''Alice Comedies'' are a series of animated/live-action shorts created by Walt Disney in the 1920s, in which a live action little girl named Alice (originally played by Virginia Davis) and an animated cat named Julius have adventures in an a ...
'' purchased for $1,500 per reel with Disney as a production partner. Walt and Roy Disney formed Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio that same year. More animated films followed after Alice. In January 1926, with the completion of the Disney studio on Hyperion Street, the Disney Brothers Studio's name was changed to the Walt Disney Studio. After the demise of the ''Alice'' comedies, Disney developed an all-cartoon series starring a character named
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (also known as Oswald the Rabbit or Oswald Rabbit) is a groovy cartoon character created in 1927 by Walt Disney for Universal Pictures. He starred in several animated short films released to theaters from 1927 to 1938. 27 a ...
. The series was produced by Winkler Pictures and distributed by
Universal Pictures Universal Pictures (legally Universal City Studios LLC, also known as Universal Studios, and formerly named Universal Film Manufacturing Company and Universal-International Pictures Inc.) is an American film production and distribution company ow ...
. Universal owned Oswald, so Disney only made a few hundred dollars. Disney completed 27 ''Oswald'' shorts before losing the contract in March 1928, when Winkler head
Charles Mintz Charles Bear Mintz (November 5, 1889 – December 30, 1939)''Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014''. Social Security Administration. was an American film producer and distributor, who assumed control over Margaret J. Winkler's Winkler Pictures a ...
hired away four of Disney's primary animators (the exception being
Ub Iwerks Ubbe Eert "Ub" Iwwerks (; March 24, 1901 – July 7, 1971) was an American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician, who designed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. Iwerks produced alongside Wa ...
) to start his own animation studio, Snappy Comedies.


1928–1934: Mickey Mouse and ''Silly Symphonies''

In 1928, to recover from the loss of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney came up with the idea of a mouse character named Mortimer while on a train headed to California, drawing up a few simple drawings. The mouse was later renamed
Mickey Mouse Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studios, who serves as the mascot of the Walt Disney Company. An anthropomorphic mouse who typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and ...
(Disney's wife, Lillian, disliked the sound of 'Mortimer Mouse') and starred in several Disney produced films.
Ub Iwerks Ubbe Eert "Ub" Iwwerks (; March 24, 1901 – July 7, 1971) was an American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician, who designed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. Iwerks produced alongside Wa ...
refined Disney's initial design of Mickey Mouse. Disney's first sound film ''
Steamboat Willie ''Steamboat Willie'' is a 1928 American animated short film directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. It was produced in black-and-white by Walt Disney Studios and was released by Celebrity Productions. The cartoon is considered the debut of Mickey ...
'', a cartoon starring Mickey, was released on November 18, 1928 through Pat Powers' distribution company. It was the first Mickey Mouse sound cartoon released, but the third to be created, behind ''
Plane Crazy ''Plane Crazy'' is a 1928 American animated short film directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. The cartoon, released in 1928 by the Walt Disney Studios, was the first creation of the character Mickey Mouse. It was made as a silent film and given ...
'' and ''
The Gallopin' Gaucho ''The Gallopin' Gaucho'' is the second short film featuring Mickey Mouse to be produced, following ''Plane Crazy'' and preceding ''Steamboat Willie''. The Disney studios completed the silent version in August 1928, but did not release it in order ...
''. ''Steamboat Willie'' was an immediate smash hit, and its initial success was attributed not just to Mickey's appeal as a character, but to the fact that it was the first cartoon to feature
synchronized sound A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before s ...
. Disney used Pat Powers' Cinephone system, created by Powers using
Lee de Forest Lee de Forest (August 26, 1873 – June 30, 1961) was an American inventor and early pioneer in radio and in the development of sound-on-film recording used for motion pictures. He had over 180 patents, but also a tumultuous career—he boasted th ...

Lee de Forest
's
PhonofilmPhonofilm is an optical sound-on-film system developed by inventors Lee de Forest and Theodore Case in the early 1920s. Introduction In 1919 and 1920, Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube, filed his first patents on a sound-on-film process, De ...
system. ''Steamboat Willie'' premiered at B. S. Moss's Colony Theater in New York City, now
The Broadway Theatre The Broadway Theatre (formerly Universal's Colony Theatre, B.S. Moss' Broadway Theatre, Earl Carroll's Broadway Theatre, and Ciné Roma) is a Broadway theatre located in midtown Manhattan. It has a large seating capacity of 1,761, and unlike most ...
. Disney's ''Plane Crazy'' and ''The Gallopin' Gaucho'' were then retrofitted with synchronized sound tracks and re-released successfully in 1929. Disney continued to produce cartoons with Mickey Mouse and other characters, and began the
Silly Symphony ''Silly Symphony'' is a series of 75 animated musical short films produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939. As their name implies, the ''Silly Symphonies'' were originally intended as whimsical accompaniments to pieces of music. As su ...
series with
Columbia Pictures Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. (commonly known as Columbia Pictures) is an American film studio and production company that is a member of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, a division of Sony Entertainment's Sony Pictures Entertainment, ...
signing on as Symphonies distributor in August 1929. In September 1929, theater manager Harry Woodin requested permission to start a Mickey Mouse Club, which Walt approved. In November, test comics strips were sent to
King Features King Features Syndicate, Inc., is a print syndication company owned by Hearst Communications that distributes about 150 comic strips, newspaper columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles, and games to nearly 5,000 newspapers worldwide. King Features Synd ...
, who requested additional samples to show to the publisher,
William Randolph Hearst William Randolph Hearst Sr. (; April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American businessman, newspaper publisher, and politician known for developing the nation's largest newspaper chain and media company, Hearst Communications. His flamboyant ...
. On December 16, the Walt Disney Studios partnership was reorganized as a corporation with the name of Walt Disney Productions, Limited, with a merchandising division – Walt Disney Enterprises, and two subsidiaries – Disney Film Recording Company, Limited; and Liled Realty and Investment Company, for real estate holdings. Walt and his wife held 60 percent (6,000 shares) and Roy owned 40 percent of WD Productions. On December 30, King Features signed its first newspaper,
New York Mirror The ''New-York Mirror'' was a weekly newspaper published in New York City from 1823 to 1842, succeeded by ''The New Mirror'' in 1843 and 1844. Its producers then launched a daily newspaper named ''The Evening Mirror'', which published from 1844 ...
, to publish the ''Mickey Mouse'' comic strip with Walt's permission. In 1932, Disney signed an exclusive contract with
Technicolor Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating to 1916, and followed by improved versions over several decades. It was the second major color process, after Britain's Kinemacolor (used between 1908 and 1914), ...
(through the end of 1935) to produce cartoons in color, beginning with ''
Flowers and Trees ''Flowers and Trees'' is a 1932 ''Silly Symphonies'' cartoon produced by Walt Disney, directed by Burt Gillett, and released to theatres by United Artists on July 30, 1932. It was the first commercially released film to be produced in the full-co ...
'' (1932). Disney released cartoons through Powers' Celebrity Pictures (1928–1930),
Columbia Pictures Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. (commonly known as Columbia Pictures) is an American film studio and production company that is a member of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, a division of Sony Entertainment's Sony Pictures Entertainment, ...
(1930–1932), and
United Artists United Artists Corporation (UA), currently doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American digital production company. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, the studio ...
(1932–1937). The popularity of the Mickey Mouse series allowed Disney to plan for his first feature-length animation. The feature film ''
Walt Before Mickey ''Walt Before Mickey'' is a 2015 American biographical drama film about the early years of Walt Disney based on the book ''Walt Before Mickey: Disney's Early Years, 1919–1928'' by Timothy S. Susanin, with a foreword written by Diane Disney. The f ...
'', based on the book by
Diane Disney Miller Diane Marie Disney-Miller (December 18, 1933 – November 19, 2013) was the only biological child of Walt Disney and his wife Lillian Bounds Disney. Diane co-founded the Walt Disney Family Museum alongside her family. She was president of th ...
, featured these moments in the studio's history.


1934–1950: ''Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'', World War II, and package films

Deciding to push the boundaries of animation even further, Disney began production of his first feature-length animated film in 1934. Taking three years to complete, ''
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs "Snow White" is a 19th-century German fairy tale that is today known widely across the Western world. The Brothers Grimm published it in 1812 in the first edition of their collection ''Grimms' Fairy Tales'' and numbered as Tale 53. The original Ge ...
'', premiered in December 1937 and by 1939 became the highest-grossing film of that time. ''Snow White'' was released through
RKO Radio Pictures RKO Pictures was an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, aka: RKO) it was one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. The bus ...
, which had assumed distribution of Disney's product in July 1937, after United Artists attempted to attain future television rights to the Disney shorts. Using the profits from ''Snow White'', Disney financed the construction of a new studio complex in
Burbank Burbank may refer to: Places Australia * Burbank, Queensland, a suburb in Brisbane United States * Burbank, California, a city in Los Angeles County * Burbank, Santa Clara County, California, a census-designated place * Burbank, Illinois, a ci ...
, California. The new Walt Disney Studios, in which the company is headquartered to this day, was completed and open for business by the end of 1939. The following year on April 2, Walt Disney Productions had its
initial public offering An initial public offering (IPO) or stock market launch is a public offering in which shares of a company are sold to institutional investors and usually also retail (individual) investors. An IPO is underwritten by one or more investment banks, w ...
. The studio continued releasing animated shorts and features, such as ''
Pinocchio Pinocchio ( , ) is a fictional character and the protagonist of the children's novel ''The Adventures of Pinocchio'' (1883) by Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence, Tuscany. Pinocchio was carved by a woodcarver named Geppetto in a Tuscan vil ...
'' (1940), ''
Fantasia Fantasia may refer to: Film and television * ''Fantasia'' (1940 film), an animated musical film produced by Walt Disney * ''Fantasia'' (2004 film), a Hong Kong comedy film * ''Fantasia'' (2014 film), a Chinese film * "Fantasia" (''Eureka Seven'' ...
'' (1940), ''
Dumbo ''Dumbo'' is a 1941 American animated fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The fourth Disney animated feature film, it is based upon the storyline written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl, and i ...
'' (1941), and ''
Bambi ''Bambi'' is a 1942 American animated drama film directed by David Hand (supervising a team of sequence directors), produced by Walt Disney and based on the 1923 book ''Bambi, a Life in the Woods'' by Austrian author and hunter Felix Salten. Th ...
'' (1942). After World War II began, box office profits declined. When the United States entered the war after the
attack on Pearl Harbor The Attack on Pearl HarborAlso known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States (a neutral country at the time) against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Ho ...
, many of Disney's animators were drafted into the armed forces. The U.S. and Canadian governments commissioned the studio to produce training and propaganda films. By 1942, 90 percent of its 550 employees were working on war-related films. Films such as the feature ''
Victory Through Air Power ''Victory Through Air Power'' is a 1942 non-fiction book by Alexander P. de Seversky. It was made into a 1943 Walt Disney animated feature film of the same name. Theories De Seversky began his military life at a young age. After serving in the ...
'' and the short ''
Education for Death ''Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi'' is an animated propaganda short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released on January 15, 1943, by RKO Radio Pictures, directed by Clyde Geronimi and principally animated by Milt Kahl, War ...

Education for Death
'' (both 1943) were meant to increase public support for the war effort. Even the studio's characters joined the effort, as
Donald Duck Donald Fauntleroy Duck is a cartoon character created in 1934 at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Donald is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a sailor shirt and cap with a bow tie. Donald ...
appeared in a number of comical propaganda shorts, including the Academy Award-winning ''
Der Fuehrer's Face ''Der Fuehrer's Face'' (originally titled ''A Nightmare in Nutziland'' or ''Donald Duck in Nutziland'' ) is a 1943 American animated anti-Nazi propaganda short film produced by Walt Disney Productions, created in 1942 and released on January 1, 1 ...
'' (1943). With limited staff and little operating capital during and after the war, Disney's feature films during much of the 1940s were "package films", or collections of shorts, such as ''
The Three Caballeros ''The Three Caballeros'' is a 1944 American live-action animated musical package film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film premiered in Mexico City on December 21, 1944. It was released in the United States on Feb ...
'' (1944) and ''
Melody Time ''Melody Time'' is a 1948 American hybrid musical film and the tenth theatrically released animated feature produced by Walt Disney. It was released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictures on May 27, 1948. Made up of seven segments set to popular music ...
'' (1948), which performed poorly at the box office. At the same time, the studio began producing live-action films and documentaries. ''
Song of the South ''Song of the South'' is a 1946 American live-action/animated musical drama film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. It is based on the collection of Uncle Remus stories as adapted by Joel Chandler Harris, and stars Ja ...
'' (1946) and ''
So Dear to My Heart ''So Dear to My Heart'' is a 1948 American live-action animated feature film produced by Walt Disney, released by RKO Radio Pictures. Its world premiere was in Chicago, Illinois, on November 29, 1948. Like 1946's ''Song of the South'', the film ...
'' (1948) featured animated segments, while the ''
True-Life Adventures ''True-Life Adventures'' is a series of fourteen full length and short subject documentary films produced by Walt Disney Productions roughly between the years 1948 and 1960. The series won eight Academy Awards for the studio including three Academy ...
'' series, which included such films as '' Seal Island'' (1948) and ''
The Vanishing Prairie ''The Vanishing Prairie'' is a 1954 documentary film directed by James Algar and released by Walt Disney Productions. The theme music was given a set of lyrics by Hazel "Gil" George. It was rechristened as "Pioneer's Prayer" in ''Westward Ho, th ...
'' (1954), were also popular. Eight of the films in the series won Academy Awards.


1950–1966: Television, Disneyland, and Walt Disney's death

The release of ''
Cinderella "Cinderella", or "The Little Glass Slipper", is a folk tale about oppression and triumphant reward. Thousands of variants are known throughout the world.Dundes, Alan. Cinderella, a Casebook. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988. The ...
'' in 1950 proved that feature-length animation could still succeed in the marketplace. Other releases of the period included ''
Alice in Wonderland ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' (commonly shortened to ''Alice in Wonderland'') is an 1865 novel by English author Lewis Carroll (the pseudonym of Charles Dodgson). It tells of a young girl named Alice, who falls through a rabbit hole into ...
'' (1951) and ''
Peter Pan Peter Pan is a fictional character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. A free-spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood having adventures on the mythical ...
'' (1953), both in production before the war began, and Disney's first all-live action feature, ''
Treasure Island ''Treasure Island'' (originally ''The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys'')Hammond, J. R. 1984. "Treasure Island." In ''A Robert Louis Stevenson Companion'', Palgrave Macmillan Literary Companions. London: Palgrave Macmillan. . is an adventure novel b ...
'' (1950). Other early all-live-action Disney films included ''
The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men ''The'' () is a grammatical article in English, denoting persons or things already mentioned, under discussion, implied or otherwise presumed familiar to listeners, readers or speakers. It is the definite article in English. ''The'' is the most ...
'' (1952), ''
The Sword and the Rose ''The Sword and the Rose'' is a 1953 American-British family and adventure film, produced by Perce Pearce and Walt Disney and directed by Ken Annakin. The film features the story of Mary Tudor, a younger sister of Henry VIII of England. Based on ...
'' (1953), and ''
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ''Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas: A World Tour Underwater'' (french: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers: Tour du monde sous-marin) is a classic science fiction adventure novel by French writer Jules Verne. The novel was originally serialize ...
'' (1954). Disney ended its distribution contract with RKO in 1953, forming its own distribution arm,
Buena Vista Distribution Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (formerly known as Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.) is an American film distribution studio within the Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution division of The Walt Disney Company. It handles theatric ...
. In December 1950, Walt Disney Productions and
the Coca-Cola Company The Coca-Cola Company is an American multinational beverage corporation incorporated under Delaware's General Corporation Law and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The Coca-Cola Company has interests in the manufacturing, retailing, and market ...
teamed up for Disney's first venture into television, the
NBC The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial radio and television network owned by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, ...
television network special ''One Hour in Wonderland''. In October 1954, the ABC network launched Disney's first regular television series. In 1954, Walt Disney used his ''Disneyland'' series to unveil what would become
Disneyland Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, opened on July 17, 1955. It is the only theme park designed and built to completion under the direct supervision of ...
, an idea conceived out of a desire for a place where parents and children could both have fun at the same time. On July 18, 1955, Walt Disney opened Disneyland to the general public. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland was previewed with a live television broadcast hosted by
Robert Cummings Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings (June 9, 1910 – December 2, 1990) was an American film and television actor known mainly for his roles in comedy films such as ''The Devil and Miss Jones'' (1941) and ''Princess O'Rourke'' (1943), but ...
,
Art Linkletter Arthur Gordon Linkletter (born Gordon Arthur Kelly or Arthur Gordon Kelly (sources differ), July 17, 1912 – May 26, 2010) was a Canadian-born American radio and television personality. He was the host of ''House Party'', which ran on CBS radio an ...

Art Linkletter
, and
Ronald Reagan Ronald Wilson Reagan ( ; February 6, 1911June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and became a highly influential voice of modern conservatism. Prior to his presidency ...
. After a shaky start, Disneyland continued to grow and attract visitors from across the country and around the world. A major expansion in 1959 included the addition of America's first monorail system. For the
1964 New York World's Fair The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair was a world's fair that held over 140 pavilions, 110 restaurants, for 80 nations (hosted by 37), 24 US states, and over 45 corporations to build exhibits or attractions at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Quee ...
, Disney prepared four separate attractions for various sponsors, each of which would find its way to Disneyland in one form or another. During this time, Walt Disney was also secretly scouting out new sites for a second Disney theme park. In November 1965, "Disney World" was announced, with plans for theme parks, hotels, and even a model city on thousands of acres of land purchased outside of Orlando, Florida, Orlando, Florida. Disney continued to focus its talents on television throughout the 1950s. Its weekday afternoon children's television program ''The Mickey Mouse Club'', featuring its roster of young "Mouseketeers", premiered in 1955 to great success, as did the ''Davy Crockett (miniseries), Davy Crockett'' miniseries, starring Fess Parker and broadcast on the ''Disneyland'' anthology show. Two years later, the ''Zorro (1957 TV series), Zorro'' series would prove just as popular, running for two seasons on ABC. Despite such success, Walt Disney Productions invested little into television ventures in the 1960s, with the exception of the long-running anthology series, later known as ''The Wonderful World of Disney''. Disney's film studios stayed busy as well, averaging five or six releases per year during this period. While the production of shorts slowed significantly during the 1950s and 1960s, the studio released a number of popular animated features, like ''Lady and the Tramp'' (1955), ''Sleeping Beauty (1959 film), Sleeping Beauty'' (1959) and ''One Hundred and One Dalmatians'' (1961), which introduced a new Xerography#Uses in animation, xerography process to transfer the drawings to Cel, animation cels. Disney's live-action releases were spread across a number of genres, including historical fiction (''Johnny Tremain (film), Johnny Tremain'', 1957), adaptations of children's books (''Pollyanna (1960 film), Pollyanna'', 1960) and modern-day comedies (''The Shaggy Dog (1959 film), The Shaggy Dog'', 1959). Disney's most successful film of the 1960s was a live action/animated musical adaptation of ''Mary Poppins (film), Mary Poppins'', which was one of the all-time highest-grossing movies and received five 37th Academy Awards, Academy Awards, including Academy Award for Best Actress, Best Actress for Julie Andrews and Academy Award for Best Original Song, Best Song for Sherman Brothers, Robert B. Sherman & Richard M. Sherman for "Chim Chim Cher-ee". The theme park design and architectural group became so integral to the Disney studio's operations that the studio bought it on February 5, 1965, along with the Walt Disney Imagineering, WED Enterprises name. On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died of complications relating to lung cancer, marking the end of an era for the company.


1966–1984: Roy O. Disney's leadership and death, Walt Disney World, new leadership, theatrical malaise

Following Walt's death,
Roy O. Disney Roy Oliver Disney (; June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971) was an American businessman and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company. He was the older brother of Walt Disney. Biography Early life Roy was born to Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Dis ...
took over as chairman, CEO, and president of the company. One of his first acts was to rename Disney World as "Walt Disney World" in honor of his brother and his vision. In 1967, the last two films Walt actively supervised were released, the animated feature ''The Jungle Book (1967 film), The Jungle Book'' and the musical ''The Happiest Millionaire''. The studio released a number of comedies in the late 1960s, including ''The Love Bug'' (1969's highest-grossing film) and ''The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes'' (1969), which starred another young Disney discovery, Kurt Russell. The 1970s opened with the release of Disney's first "post-Walt" animated feature, ''The Aristocats'', followed by a return to fantasy musicals in 1971's ''Bedknobs and Broomsticks''. ''Blackbeard's Ghost'' was another successful film during this period. On October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World opened to the public, with Roy Disney dedicating the facility in person later that month. On December 20, 1971, Roy O. Disney died of a stroke. He left the company under the control of Donn Tatum, Card Walker, and Walt's son-in-law Ron W. Miller, Ron Miller, each trained by Walt and Roy. While Walt Disney Productions continued releasing family-friendly films throughout the 1970s, such as ''Escape to Witch Mountain (1975 film), Escape to Witch Mountain'' (1975) and ''Freaky Friday (1976 film), Freaky Friday'' (1976), the films did not fare as well at the box office as earlier material. However, the animation studio saw success with ''Robin Hood (1973 film), Robin Hood'' (1973), ''The Rescuers'' (1977), and ''The Fox and the Hound'' (1981). As head of the studio, Miller attempted to make films to drive the profitable teenage market who generally passed on seeing Disney films.Harmetz, Aljean (April 10, 1980). "Disney working to expand market." ''Wilmington Morning Star''. Retrieved November 7, 2012. Inspired by the popularity of ''Star Wars (film), Star Wars'', Disney produced the science-fiction adventure ''The Black Hole'' in 1979; it cost $20 million to make, but was lost in ''Star Wars wake. ''The Black Hole'' was the first Disney film to carry a Motion Picture Association of America film rating system, PG rating in the United States. Disney dabbled in the horror genre with ''The Watcher in the Woods (1980 film), The Watcher in the Woods'', and financed the boldly innovative ''Tron''; both films were released to minimal success. Disney also hired outside producers for film projects, which had never been done before in the studio's history. In 1979, Disney entered a joint venture with Paramount Pictures on the production of the 1980 film adaptation of ''Popeye (film), Popeye'' and ''Dragonslayer (1981 film), Dragonslayer'' (1981); the first time Disney collaborated with another studio. Paramount distributed Disney films in Canada at the time, and it was hoped that Disney's marketing prestige would help sell the two films. Finally, in 1982, the Disney family sold the naming rights and rail-based attractions to the Disney film studio for 818,461 shares of Disney stock then worth $42.6 million none of which went to Retlaw Enterprises, Retlaw. Also, Roy E. Disney objected to the overvalued purchase price of the naming right and voted against the purchase as a Disney board director. The 1983 release of ''Mickey's Christmas Carol'' began a string of successful movies, starting with ''Never Cry Wolf (film), Never Cry Wolf'' and the Ray Bradbury adaptation ''Something Wicked This Way Comes (film), Something Wicked This Way Comes''. The Walt Disney Productions film division was incorporated on as
Walt Disney Pictures Walt Disney Pictures is an American film production studio that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. The studio is the flagship producer of live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Studios un ...
. In 1984, Disney CEO Ron Miller created Touchstone Pictures, Touchstone Films as a brand for Disney to release more major motion pictures. Touchstone's first release was the comedy ''Splash (film), Splash'' (1984), which was a box office success. With ''The Wonderful World of Disney'' remaining a prime-time staple, Disney returned to television in the 1970s with syndicated programming such as the anthology series ''The Mouse Factory'' and a brief revival of the ''Mickey Mouse Club''. In 1980, Disney launched Walt Disney Home Video to take advantage of the newly emerging videocassette market. On April 18, 1983, Disney Channel, The Disney Channel debuted as a subscription-level channel on cable systems nationwide, featuring its large library of classic films and TV series, along with original programming and family-friendly third-party offerings. Walt Disney World received much of the company's attention through the 1970s and into the 1980s. In 1978, Disney executives announced plans for the second Walt Disney World theme park, Epcot, EPCOT Center, which would open in October 1982. Inspired by EPCOT (concept), Walt Disney's dream of a futuristic model city, EPCOT Center was built as a "permanent World's Fair", complete with exhibits sponsored by major American corporations, as well as pavilions based on the cultures of other nations. In Japan, The Oriental Land Company partnered with Walt Disney Productions to build the first Disney theme park outside of the United States, Tokyo Disneyland, which opened in April 1983. Despite the success of the Disney Channel and its new theme park creations, Walt Disney Productions was financially vulnerable. Its film library was valuable but offered few current successes, and its leadership team was unable to keep up with other studios, particularly the works of Don Bluth, who defected from Disney in 1979. By the early 1980s, the parks were generating 70 percent of Disney's income. In 1984, financier Saul Steinberg (businessman), Saul Steinberg's Reliance Group Holdings launched a hostile takeover bid for Walt Disney Productions, with the intent of selling off some of its operations. Disney bought out Reliance's 11.1% stake in the company. However, another shareholder filed suit claiming the deal devaluated Disney's stock and for Disney management to retain their positions. The shareholder lawsuit was settled in 1989 for a total of $45 million from Disney and Reliance. Likewise in 1984, MCA Inc., MCA (then-parent company of Universal Pictures, Universal Studios) actually struck a deal with Disney to purchase the company on the condition insisted by the Disney family that Disney CEO Ron W. Miller be MCA president, but disagreements between MCA chairman Lew Wasserman and Disney over this caused the agreement to fall through completely.


1984–2005: Michael Eisner's leadership, Disney Renaissance, and "Save Disney" campaign

With the Sid Bass family purchase of 18.7 percent of Disney, Bass and the board brought in Michael Eisner from Paramount as CEO and Frank Wells from Warner Bros. as president. Eisner emphasized Touchstone, with ''Down and Out in Beverly Hills'' (1985) leading to increased output with ''Good Morning, Vietnam'' (1987), ''Dead Poets Society'' (1989), ''Pretty Woman'' (1990) and additional hits. Eisner used expanding cable and home video markets to sign deals using Disney shows and films, making a long-term deal with Showtime Networks for Disney/Touchstone releases through 1996 and entering television with syndication and distribution for TV series such as ''The Golden Girls'' and ''Home Improvement (TV series), Home Improvement''. Disney began limited releases of its previous films on videotapes in the late 1980s. Eisner's Disney purchased KCAL-TV, KHJ, an independent Los Angeles TV station. Organized in 1985, Silver Screen Partners II, LP financed films for Disney with $193 million. In January 1987, Silver Screen III began financing movies for Disney with $300 million raised, the largest amount raised for a film financing limited partnership by E.F. Hutton. Silver Screen IV was also set up to finance Disney's studios. Buoyed by the success of ''Who Framed Roger Rabbit'' in 1988, Disney's Walt Disney Animation Studios, flagship animation studio enjoyed a series of commercial and critical successes known as the Disney Renaissance, with such films as ''The Little Mermaid (1989 film), The Little Mermaid'' (1989), ''Beauty and the Beast (1991 film), Beauty and the Beast'' (1991), ''Aladdin (1992 Disney film), Aladdin'' (1992), and ''The Lion King'' (1994). In addition, the company successfully entered the field of television animation with a number of lavishly-budgeted and acclaimed series such as ''Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Adventures of the Gummi Bears'', ''DuckTales'', ''Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers'', ''Darkwing Duck'', ''TaleSpin'', ''Bonkers (American TV series), Bonkers'' and ''Gargoyles (TV series), Gargoyles''. Disney moved to first place in box office receipts by 1988 and had increased revenues by 20 percent every year. In 1989, Disney signed an agreement-in-principle to acquire The Jim Henson Company, Jim Henson Productions from its founder, The Muppets, Muppet creator Jim Henson. The deal included Henson's programming library and Muppet characters (excluding the Muppets created for ''Sesame Street''), as well as Jim Henson's personal creative services. However, Henson died suddenly in May 1990 before the deal was completed, resulting in the two companies terminating Mergers and acquisitions, merger negotiations the following December. Named the "Disney Decade" by the company, the executive talent attempted to move the company to new heights in the 1990s with huge changes and accomplishments. In September 1990, Disney arranged for financing up to $200 million by a unit of Nomura Securities for Interscope Communications, Interscope films made for Disney. On October 23, Disney formed Touchwood Pacific Partners which would supplant the Silver Screen Partnership series as their movie studios' primary source of funding. In 1991, hotels, home video distribution, and Disney merchandising became 28 percent of total company revenues while international revenues contributed 22 percent of total revenues. The company committed its studios in the first quarter of 1991 to produce 25 films in 1992. However, 1991 saw net income drop by 23 percent and had no growth for the year, but saw the release of ''Beauty and the Beast'', winner of two Academy Awards and top-grossing film in the genre. Disney next moved into publishing with Hachette Books, Hyperion Books and adult music with Hollywood Records while Walt Disney Imagineering was laying off 400 employees. Disney also broadened its adult offerings in film when then-Disney Studio Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg acquired Miramax, Miramax Films in 1993. That same year Disney created the National Hockey League, NHL team the Anaheim Ducks, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, named after the The Mighty Ducks (film), 1992 hit film of the same name. Disney purchased a minority stake in the Los Angeles Angels, Anaheim Angels baseball team around the same time. Wells was killed in a helicopter crash in 1994. Shortly thereafter, Katzenberg resigned and formed DreamWorks Pictures, DreamWorks SKG because Eisner would not appoint Katzenberg to Wells' now-available post (Katzenberg had also sued over the terms of his contract). Instead, Eisner recruited his friend Michael Ovitz, one of the founders of the Creative Artists Agency, to be President, with minimal involvement from Disney's board of directors (which at the time included Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Hotels Corporation CEO Stephen Bollenbach, former United States Senate, U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell, George Mitchell, Yale School of Architecture, Yale dean Robert A. M. Stern, and Eisner's predecessors Raymond Watson and Card Walker). Ovitz lasted only 14 months and left Disney in December 1996 via a "no fault termination" with a severance package of $38 million in cash and 3 million Employee stock option, stock options worth roughly $100 million at the time of Ovitz's departure. The Ovitz episode engendered a long-running derivative suit, which finally concluded in June 2006, almost 10 years later. Chancellor William B. Chandler III of the Delaware Court of Chancery, despite describing Eisner's behavior as falling "far short of what shareholders expect and demand from those entrusted with a fiduciary position..." found in favor of Eisner and the rest of the Disney board because they had not violated the letter of the law (namely, the duty of care owed by a corporation's officers and board to its shareholders). Eisner later said, in a 2016 interview with ''The Hollywood Reporter'', that he regretted letting Ovitz go. In 1994, Eisner attempted to purchase
NBC The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial radio and television network owned by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, ...
from General Electric (GE), but the deal failed due to GE wanting to keep 51 percent ownership of the network. On August 1, 1995, Disney announced they would acquire and merge with Capital Cities/ABC Inc. for $19 billion, which at the time was the second largest corporate takeover. The merger would bring broadcast network ABC and its assets, including a 37.5% minority stake in A+E Networks, A&E Television Networks, an 80 percent majority stake in
ESPN ESPN (originally an initialism for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is an American multinational basic cable sports channel owned by ESPN Inc., owned jointly by The Walt Disney Company (80%) and Hearst Communications (20%). The com ...

ESPN
and the Limited Partnership-ran DIC Productions into the Disney umbrella. The deal was closed on February 10, 1996, and Eisner felt that the purchase of ABC was an important investment to keep Disney surviving and allowing it to compete with international multimedia conglomerates. Disney lost a $10.4 million lawsuit in September 1997 to Marsu B.V. over Disney's failure to produce as contracted 13 half-hour ''Marsupilami'' cartoon shows. Instead, Disney felt other internal "hot properties" deserved the company's attention. Disney, which had taken control of the Anaheim Angels in 1996, purchased a majority stake in the team in 1998. That same year, Disney began a move into the Internet field with the purchase of Starwave and 43 percent of Infoseek. In 1999, Disney purchased the remaining shares of Infoseek and launched the Go.com, Go Network portal in January. Disney also launched its Disney Cruise Line, cruise line with the christening of ''Disney Magic'' and a sister ship, ''Disney Wonder''. The Katzenberg case dragged on as his contract included a portion of the film revenue from ancillary markets forever. Katzenberg had offered $100 million to settle the case, but Eisner felt the original claim amount of about half a billion too much, but then the ancillary market clause was found. Disney lawyers tried to indicate a decline situation which reveal some of the problems in the company. ABC had declining rating and increasing costs while the film segment had two film failures. While neither party revealed the settlement amount, it is estimated at $200 million. Eisner's controlling style inhibited efficiency and progress according to some critics, while other industry experts indicated that "age compression" theory led to a decline in the company's target market due to youth copying teenage behavior earlier. The year 2000 brought an increase in revenue of 9 percent and net income of 39 percent with ABC and ESPN leading the way and Parks and Resorts marking its sixth consecutive year of growth. In November 2000, Andy Heyward purchased back DIC Entertainment from Disney (through investment by Bain Capital and Chase Capital Partners) and making the studio re-independent. On July 23, 2001, Disney announced to purchase ABC Family Worldwide, Fox Family Worldwide for $2.9 billion cash plus $2.3 billion in debt assumption, which would include ownership in the Fox Family Channel, Fox Family channel alongside other assets including the Saban Entertainment library and Fox Kids channels in Europe and Latin America. The purchase was completed on October 24, 2001 and Fox Family would be renamed to ABC Family in November. The year 2001 was one of cost-cutting, laying off 4,000 employees, Disney parks operations decreased, slashing annual live-action film investment, and minimizing Internet operations, mainly due to the September 11 attacks, which led to a decline in vacation travel and the early 2000s recession led to a decrease in ABC revenue. While 2002 revenue had a small decrease from 2001 with the cost-cutting, net income rose to $1.2 billion with two creative film releases. In 2003, Disney became the first studio to record over $3 billion in worldwide box office receipts. Eisner did not want the board to renominate Roy E. Disney, the son of Disney co-founder
Roy O. Disney Roy Oliver Disney (; June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971) was an American businessman and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company. He was the older brother of Walt Disney. Biography Early life Roy was born to Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Dis ...
, as a board director citing his age of 72 as a required retirement age. Stanley Gold responded by resigning from the board and requesting the other board members oust Eisner. On November 30, 2003, Disney resigned from his positions as the company's vice chairman and chairman of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Feature Animation, accusing Eisner of micromanagement, failures with the ABC television network, timidity in the Amusement park, theme park business, turning The Walt Disney Company into a "rapacious, soul-less" company, and refusing to establish a clear succession plan, as well as a string of box office film flops starting in the year 2000. On August 9, 2002, Disney said it was expressing great interest in buying Universal Pictures, Universal Studios whose parent company Vivendi started a bidding war after inheriting $17.9 billion in debt by its purchase of the famed major film studio from Seagram for $34 billion. In addition, Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure was struggling to deal with catastrophically low attendance since the park's opening in 1999, and the September 11 attacks in 2001 caused a dip of Universal Parks and Resorts' tourism attendance worldwide. As a result, Vivendi lacked the interest in investing in the Universal parks more meaningfully and may have been one of the reasons for selling off Universal. Analysts speculated that Universal would have to be available at a bargain price to justify such a deal. "Owning more theme parks could make Disney even more cyclical because that's a cyclical business," said Katherine Styponias of Prudential Securities. Despite this, Disney didn't succeed in pursuing a takeover for various reasons, owing to its stock price at a 52-week-low and the likelihood of the Disney/Universal deal being blocked on antitrust grounds (e.g. less innovation in theme parks, higher prices for hotel rooms, the growing power of box office market share, etc.). On May 15, 2003, Disney sold their stake in the Anaheim Angels baseball team to Arte Moreno. Disney purchased the rights to The Muppets and the ''Bear in the Big Blue House'' franchises from The Jim Henson Company on February 17, 2004. The two brands were placed under control of the The Muppets Studio, Muppets Holding Company, LLC, a unit of Disney Consumer Products. In 2004, Pixar, Pixar Animation Studios began looking for another distributor after its 12-year contract with Disney ended, due to its strained relationship over issues of control and money with Eisner. Also that year, Comcast Corporation made an unsolicited $54 billion bid to acquire Disney. A couple of high budget films flopped at the box office. With these difficulties and with some board directors dissatisfied, Eisner ceded the board chairmanship. On March 3, 2004, at Disney's annual shareholders' meeting, a surprising 45 percent of Disney's shareholders, predominantly rallied by former board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, withheld their proxy voting, proxies to re-elect Eisner to the board. Disney's board then gave the chairmanship position to Mitchell. However, the board did not immediately remove Eisner as chief executive. In February 2005, Disney sold the Anaheim Ducks, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey team to Henry Samueli, Henry and Susan Samueli, who later renamed the team the Anaheim Ducks. On March 13, 2005, Bob Iger, Robert A. Iger was announced as Eisner's successor as CEO. Also that month, Miramax co-founders Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein departed the company to form their The Weinstein Company, own studio. On July 8, Walt Disney's nephew, Roy E. Disney, returned to the company as a consultant and as non-voting director emeritus. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts celebrated the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, Disneyland Park on July 17 and opened Hong Kong Disneyland on September 12. On July 25, Disney announced that it was closing DisneyToon Studios Australia in October 2006 after 17 years of existence. On September 30, Eisner resigned both as an executive and as a member of the Board of Directors.


2005–2020: Bob Iger's leadership and company expansion

On October 1, 2005, Bob Iger replaced Eisner as Disney's CEO. On November 4, Walt Disney Feature Animation released ''Chicken Little (2005 film), Chicken Little'', the company's first film using 3D animation. On January 23, 2006, it was announced that Disney would purchase Pixar in an all-stock transaction valued at $7.4 billion. The deal was finalized on May 5; Steve Jobs, who was Pixar's CEO and held a 50.1% ownership stake in the company, transitioned to Disney's board of directors as its largest individual shareholder, with a 7 percent stake. Ed Catmull took over as President of Pixar Animation Studios. Former executive vice-president of Pixar, John Lasseter, became chief creative officer of
Walt Disney Animation Studios Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS), sometimes shortened to Disney Animation, is an American animation studio that creates animated features and short films for The Walt Disney Company. The company's production logo has a scene from the very fir ...
, its division Disneytoon Studios, and Pixar Animation Studios, as well as assuming the role of principal creative advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering. In February 2006, Disney acquired the rights to
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (also known as Oswald the Rabbit or Oswald Rabbit) is a groovy cartoon character created in 1927 by Walt Disney for Universal Pictures. He starred in several animated short films released to theaters from 1927 to 1938. 27 a ...
from NBC Universal (including the character's intellectual property and the 27 Oswald cartoons produced by Walt Disney) as part of an exchange of minor assets. In return, Disney released sportscaster Al Michaels from his contracts with ABC Sports and ESPN, so he could join NBC Sports and his long-time partner John Madden for NBC's new National Football League, NFL ''NBC Sunday Night Football, Sunday Night Football''. In April 2007, the Muppets Holding Company was moved from Disney Consumer Products to the The Walt Disney Studios (division), Walt Disney Studios division and renamed The Muppets Studio, as part of efforts to re-launch the division. In February 2007, the company was accused of human rights violations regarding the working conditions in factories that produce their merchandise. On August 31, 2009, Disney announced a deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion, in a deal completed on December 31, 2009. Director Emeritus Roy E. Disney died of stomach cancer on December 16, 2009. At the time of his death, he owned roughly 1 percent of all of Disney which amounted to 16 million shares. He was the last member of the Disney family to be actively involved in the company. In October 2009, Disney Channel president Rich Ross, hired by Iger, replaced Dick Cook as chairman of the company and, in November, began restructuring the company to focus more on family friendly products. Later in January 2010, Disney decided to shut down Miramax after downsizing Touchstone, but one month later, they instead began selling the Miramax brand and its 700-title film library to Filmyard Holdings. In March, ImageMovers Digital, which Disney had established as a joint venture studio with Robert Zemeckis in 2007, was shut down. In April 2010, Lyric Street, Disney's country music label in Nashville, was shut down. The following month, Haim Saban reacquired the ''Power Rangers'' franchise, including its 700-episode library. In September 2012, Saban reacquired the ''Digimon'' franchise, which, like ''Power Rangers'', was part of the Fox Kids library that Disney acquired in 2001. In January 2011, Disney Interactive Studios was downsized. In April 2011, Disney broke ground on Shanghai Disney Resort. Costing $4.4 billion, the resort opened on June 16, 2016. Later, in August 2011, Bob Iger stated on a conference call that after the success of the
Pixar Pixar Animation Studios () is an American computer animation studio known for its critically and commercially successful feature films. It is based in Emeryville, California, and is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios owned by The Walt Disney Co ...
and Marvel Entertainment, Marvel purchases, he and the Walt Disney Company are looking to "buy either new characters or businesses that are capable of creating great characters and great stories." Later, in early February 2012, Disney completed its acquisition of UTV Software Communications, expanding their market further into India and Asia. On October 30, 2012, Disney announced plans to acquire
Lucasfilm Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC is an American film and television production company that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, which is a business segment of The Walt Disney Company. The studio is best known for creating and producing the ''Star Wars'' and ...
in a deal valued at $4.05 billion. Disney announced an intent to leverage the ''Star Wars'' franchise across its divisions, and planned to produce a Star Wars: The Force Awakens, seventh installment in the main film franchise for release in 2015. The sale was completed on December 21, 2012. On March 24, 2014, Disney acquired Maker Studios, an active multi-channel network on YouTube, for $500 million. The company was later turned into a new venture called Disney Digital Network in May 2017. On February 5, 2015, it was announced that Thomas O. Staggs, Tom Staggs had been promoted to Chief operating officer, COO. On April 4, 2016, Disney announced that Staggs and the company had mutually agreed to part ways, effective May 2016, ending his 26-year career with the company. In August 2016, Disney acquired a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, a streaming media provider spun out from Major League Baseball's MLB Advanced Media, media division. The company announced plans to eventually use its infrastructure for an
ESPN ESPN (originally an initialism for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is an American multinational basic cable sports channel owned by ESPN Inc., owned jointly by The Walt Disney Company (80%) and Hearst Communications (20%). The com ...

ESPN
over-the-top content, over-the-top service. In September 2016, Disney considered purchasing the American online news and social networking service Twitter, but they dropped out partly due to concerns over abuse and harassment on the service. On March 23, 2017, Disney announced that Iger had agreed to a one-year extension of his term as CEO through July 2, 2019, and had agreed to remain with the company as a consultant for three years after stepping down. In August 2017, Disney announced that it had exercised an option to increase its stake in BAMTech to 75 percent, and would launch a subscription video-on-demand Disney streaming service, service featuring its entertainment content in 2019, which will replace Netflix as the subscription VOD rights holder of all Disney theatrical film releases. In November 2017, Lasseter announced that he was taking a six-month leave of absence from Pixar and Disney Animation after acknowledging "missteps" in his behavior with employees in a memo to staff. According to various news outlets, Lasseter had a history of alleged sexual misconduct towards employees. In November 2017, it was reported by CNBC that Disney had been in negotiations to Acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney, acquire 21st Century Fox. The negotiations had reportedly resumed around Disney acquiring several of Fox's key media assets. Rumors of a nearing deal continued on December 5, 2017, with additional reports suggesting that the Fox Sports Networks, FSN regional sports networks would be included in the resulting new company (assets that would likely be aligned with Disney's
ESPN ESPN (originally an initialism for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is an American multinational basic cable sports channel owned by ESPN Inc., owned jointly by The Walt Disney Company (80%) and Hearst Communications (20%). The com ...

ESPN
division). On December 14, Disney agreed to acquire most assets from 21st Century Fox, including 20th Century Fox, for $52.4 billion. The merger included many of Fox's entertainment assets—including filmed entertainment, cable entertainment, and direct broadcast satellite divisions in the UK, Europe, and Asia—but excluded divisions such as the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Television Stations, the Fox News Channel, the Fox Business Network, Fox Sports (United States), Fox Sports Fox Sports 1, 1 and Fox Sports 2, 2, and the Big Ten Network, all of which were to be spun off into an independent company before the merger was complete (which eventually named Fox Corporation). The following June, after a counter offer from Comcast worth $65 billion, Disney increased its offer to $71.3 billion. The transaction officially closed on March 20, 2019. Beginning in March 2018, a strategic reorganization of the company saw the creation of two business segments,
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Inc., formerly Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and informally known as Disney Parks, is one of The Walt Disney Company's six major business segments and a subsidiary. It was founded on April ...
and Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, Direct-to-Consumer & International. Parks & Consumer Products was primarily a merger of Parks & Resorts and Consumer Products & Interactive Media. While Direct-to-Consumer & International took over for Disney International and global sales, distribution and streaming units from Disney-ABC TV Group and Studios Entertainment plus Disney Digital Network. Given that CEO Iger described it as "strategically positioning our businesses for the future", ''The New York Times'' considered the reorganization done in expectation of the 21st Century Fox purchase.


2020–present: Bob Chapek's leadership and COVID-19 pandemic

On February 25, 2020, Disney named Bob Chapek as CEO to succeed Iger, effective immediately. Iger assumed the role of Executive Chairman, under which he would oversee the creative side of the company, while also continuing to serve as Chairman of the Board during the transition period through 2021. In April 2020, Iger resumed operational duties of the company as executive chairman to help the company during the COVID-19 pandemic and Chapek was appointed to the board of directors. Also in the month, the company announced that it would suspend pay to more than 100,000 employees ("cast members") at
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Inc., formerly Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and informally known as Disney Parks, is one of The Walt Disney Company's six major business segments and a subsidiary. It was founded on April ...
in response to the COVID-19 recession—reportedly amounting to monthly savings of $500 million for the company—while continuing to provide full healthcare benefits. Reportedly, staff in the United States and France were affected and were encouraged to apply for government support. Due to the closure of Disney parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney experienced a 63 percent drop in earnings for the fiscal second quarter of 2020, resulting in a loss of $1.4 billion for the company. Additionally, the Parks, Experiences, and Products division experienced a loss of $1 billion in revenue. In September 2020, the company announced that it will be laying off 28,000 employees in Florida and California. According to Disney's park chairman, Josh D'Amaro, "We initially hoped that this situation would be shortlived and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case." According to D’Amaro, two-thirds of the employees reported to be laid off were part-time workers. Then in November, Disney planned to cut 4000 jobs more than announced until the end of March 2021. In December 2020, Disney named Alan Bergman as chairman of its Disney Studios Content division to oversee its film studios. In March 2021, Disney announced a new division, 20th Television Animation, that would focus on adult animation.


Company units

The Walt Disney Company operates five primary business segments (two primary divisions and three content groups):


Divisions

*Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED) is responsible for all global distribution, operations, sales, advertising, data and technology functions for the company's three content production groups (listed below), as well as management of the company’s
direct-to-consumer Direct-to-consumer (DTC) refers to selling products directly to customers, bypassing any third-party retailers, wholesalers, or any other middlemen. DTC brands are usually sold online only and specialize in a specific product category: Casper, ...
businesses, including its Disney Streaming Services, multiple streaming services (
Disney+ Disney+ (pronounced Disney Plus) is an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming service owned and operated by the Media and Entertainment Distribution division of The Walt Disney Company. The service primarily distributes fi ...
,
Hulu Hulu () (stylized in all lowercase) is an American subscription video on demand service fully controlled and majority-owned by The Walt Disney Company, with Comcast's NBCUniversal as an equity stakeholder. The service was initially established ...
, and
ESPN+ ESPN+ (pronounced ESPN Plus) is an American over-the-top subscription video streaming service available in the United States, owned by Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, in partnership with ESPN Inc., which is a joint venture between T ...

ESPN+
), Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, theatrical exhibition unit, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, home media distribution, Disney Music Group, domestic television networks, and international holdings such as Star India. The division is led by Kareem Daniel. *
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Inc., formerly Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and informally known as Disney Parks, is one of The Walt Disney Company's six major business segments and a subsidiary. It was founded on April ...
(DPEP) includes the company's Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, theme parks, Disney Cruise Line, cruise line, travel-related assets, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, consumer products, and Disney Publishing Worldwide, publishing divisions. Disney's resorts and diversified related holdings include: Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney. The division is led by Josh D'Amaro.


Content groups

*
The Walt Disney StudiosWalt Disney Studios may refer to: * Walt Disney Studio (1926–1929) the second name of The Walt Disney Company * Walt Disney Studios (division), the Walt Disney Company's Studio Entertainment unit, which includes Disney's motion picture studios, mus ...
consists of the company's filmed entertainment and theatrical entertainment businesses, including
Walt Disney Pictures Walt Disney Pictures is an American film production studio that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. The studio is the flagship producer of live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Studios un ...
,
Walt Disney Animation Studios Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS), sometimes shortened to Disney Animation, is an American animation studio that creates animated features and short films for The Walt Disney Company. The company's production logo has a scene from the very fir ...
,
Pixar Pixar Animation Studios () is an American computer animation studio known for its critically and commercially successful feature films. It is based in Emeryville, California, and is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios owned by The Walt Disney Co ...
,
Marvel Studios Marvel Studios, LLC (originally known as Marvel Films from 1993 to 1996) is an American film and television studio that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. Marvel Studios is known for the production of ...
,
Lucasfilm Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC is an American film and television production company that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, which is a business segment of The Walt Disney Company. The studio is best known for creating and producing the ''Star Wars'' and ...
,
20th Century Studios 20th Century Studios, Inc. (also known as 20th Century for short, and nicknamed 20th Pictures, formerly Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation) is an American film studio that is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Dis ...
,
Searchlight Pictures Searchlight Pictures, Inc. (formerly Fox Searchlight Pictures) is an American film studio within Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company, that focuses primarily on producing, distributing, and acquiring specialty films. Sear ...
, Disneynature, and Disney Theatrical Group. The division is led by Alan Bergman. * Disney General Entertainment Content (DGE) consists of the company's entertainment-centric television channels and production companies in the United States, including Walt Disney Television (consisting of the ABC television network, Disney Television Studios – ABC Signature, 20th Television and 20th Animation, ABC Owned Television Stations and Freeform), Disney Branded Television, FX Networks, ABC News and 73% ownership of National Geographic Partners. The division also owns 50% of A&E Networks with Hearst Communications. The division is led by Peter Rice (executive), Peter Rice. * ESPN and Sports Content focuses on ESPN Inc., ESPN's live sports programming, as well as sports news and original and non-scripted sports-related content, for the cable channels,
ESPN+ ESPN+ (pronounced ESPN Plus) is an American over-the-top subscription video streaming service available in the United States, owned by Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, in partnership with ESPN Inc., which is a joint venture between T ...

ESPN+
, and ABC. The division is led by James Pitaro. In addition, Marvel Entertainment is a business reporting directly to the CEO; its financial results are primarily divided between the Studios and Consumer Products segments.


Executive management

Chairmen Walt Disney stepped down as chairman in 1960 to focus more on the creative aspects of the company, becoming the "executive producer in charge of all production."
After a four-year vacancy, Roy O. Disney became chairman. *
Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor, and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of ca ...
(1945–1960) *
Roy O. Disney Roy Oliver Disney (; June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971) was an American businessman and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company. He was the older brother of Walt Disney. Biography Early life Roy was born to Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Dis ...
(1964–1971) * Donn Tatum (1971–1980) * Card Walker (1980–1983) * Raymond Watson (1983–1984) * Michael Eisner (1984–2004) * George J. Mitchell (2004–2006) * John E. Pepper Jr. (2007–2012) * Bob Iger (2012–present) Vice chairmen * Roy E. Disney (1984–2003) Executive chairmen * Bob Iger (2020–present) Presidents *
Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor, and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of ca ...
(1923–1945) *
Roy O. Disney Roy Oliver Disney (; June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971) was an American businessman and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company. He was the older brother of Walt Disney. Biography Early life Roy was born to Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Dis ...
(1945–1968) * Donn Tatum (1968–1971) * Card Walker (1971–1980) * Ron W. Miller (1980–1984) * Frank Wells (1984–1994) * Michael Ovitz (1995–1997) * Bob Iger (2000–2012) Chief executive officers *
Roy O. Disney Roy Oliver Disney (; June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971) was an American businessman and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company. He was the older brother of Walt Disney. Biography Early life Roy was born to Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Dis ...
(1929–1971) * Donn Tatum (1971–1976) * Card Walker (1976–1983) * Ron W. Miller (1983–1984) * Michael Eisner (1984–2005) * Bob Iger (2005–2020) * Bob Chapek (2020–present) Chief operating officers * Card Walker (1968–1976) * Ron W. Miller (1980–1984) * Frank Wells (1984–1994) * Sanford Litvack (1997–1999) * Bob Iger (2000–2005) * Thomas O. Staggs (2015–2016)


Financial data


Revenues

Disney ranked No. 55 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.


Operating income


See also

* Lists of films released by Disney * List of Disney television series * Disney University * Disneyfication * Buena Vista (brand), Buena Vista * ''Mandeville-Anthony v. The Walt Disney Company'', a federal court case in which Mandeville claimed Disney infringed on his copyrighted ideas by creating ''Cars (2006 film), Cars'' * List of conglomerates * Criticism of The Walt Disney Company * List of acquisitions by Disney


Explanatory notes


References


Chronology of company

*


Further reading

* ''Disney Stories: Getting to Digital'', Newton Lee and Krystina Madej (New York: Springer Science+Business Media, 2012), . * ''A View Inside Disney'', Tayler Hughes, 201
Slumped
* ''The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney'', Michael Barrier, 2007 * ''Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire'', Bob Thomas, 1998 * ''Building a Dream; The Art of Disney Architecture'', Beth Dunlop, 1996, * ''Cult of the Mouse: Can We Stop Corporate Greed from Killing Innovation in America?'', Henry M. Caroselli, 2004, Ten Speed Press * ''Disney: The Mouse Betrayed'', Peter Schweizer * ''Disney A to Z (Fifth Edition) : The Official Encyclopedia'', Dave Smith (archivist), Dave Smith. 5th edition Disney Editions, 2016 . * ''The Disney Touch: How a Daring Management Team Revived an Entertainment Empire'', by Ron Grover (Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1991), * ''The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney'', Richard Schickel, 1968, revised 1997 * ''Disneyana: Walt Disney Collectibles'', Cecil Munsey, 1974 * ''Disneyization of Society'': Alan Bryman, 2004 * ''DisneyWar'', James B. Stewart, Simon & Schuster, 2005, * ''Donald Duck Joins Up; the Walt Disney Studio During World War II'', Richard Shale, 1982 * ''How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic'' (Marxist Critique) Ariel Dorfman, Armand Mattelart, David Kunzle (translator). * ''Inside the Dream: The Personal Story of Walt Disney'', Katherine Greene & Richard Greene, 2001 * ''The Keys to the Kingdom: How Michael Eisner Lost His Grip'', Kim Masters (Morrow, 2000) * ''The Man Behind the Magic; the Story of Walt Disney'', Katherine & Richard Greene, 1991, revised 1998, * ''Married to the Mouse'', Richard E. Foglesorg, Yale University Press * ''Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland'', David Koenig, 1994, revised 2005, * ''Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records'', Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar, 2006, * ''Storming the Magic Kingdom: Wall Street, the raiders, and the battle for Disney'', John Taylor, 198
''New York Times''
* ''The Story of Walt Disney'', Diane Disney Miller & Pete Martin, 1957 * ''Team Rodent'', Carl Hiaasen. * ''Walt Disney: An American Original'', Bob Thomas, 1976, revised 1994, * ''Work in Progress'' by Michael Eisner with Tony Schwartz (Random House, 1998),


External links

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Walt Disney Company The Walt Disney Company Entertainment companies of the United States Entertainment companies established in 1923 Entertainment companies based in California Mass media companies of the United States Mass media companies established in 1923 Multinational companies headquartered in the United States Conglomerate companies of the United States Conglomerate companies established in 1923 1923 establishments in California Companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average Companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange Companies based in Burbank, California American companies established in 1923 American brands