“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it all started with a mouse,” this was Walt Disney's message to his TV audience the night of October 27th, 1954. That's the night he first told the world about his largest dream to date: Disneyland.
He made the announcement from a TV set dressed to look like his office at the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank, California. Walt made near weekly appearances from that day on, telling the public about his latest dreams. In fact, the last time Walt welcomed the public in to his office was shortly after his death, telling them about his biggest dream yet, EPCOT – the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Walt recorded this segment in the weeks leading up to his death on December 15th, 1966, just ten days after his 65th birthday.
On December 7th, 2015 current Disney President and CEO Bob Iger, along with three of Walt's granddaughters, unveiled Walt's restored office suite, which includes his formal and working offices. The offices are restored just the way he kept them, down to the original furnishings. Iger says the offices will be used as a space for current Disney employees, as well as guests, to visit, relax and get inspiration from the man who built an empire.
Walt would often spend hours behind his desk, making his dreams come to life.
You can read more on the restoration project on D23's website. D23 is the official Disney Fan Club, named after the year Walt packed up his bags in Kansas City, Missouri and headed to Hollywood to break in to the film industry.
Walt would have celebrated his 114th birthday this past Saturday, December 5th. Walt was born in Chicago, but his family moved to
Marceline , Missouri when he was four years old. His father ran a struggling farm, and while Walt only spent five years in Marceline, those years on the
farm were some of the fondest of his life. In 1911 the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. At the age of 16, Walt dropped out of high school to join the
Red Cross during World War I. He served in France, and after he returned, he worked at the Kansas city Film Ad Company as a cartoonist.
He later struck out on his own and created the company Laugh-O-Gram Pictures, which produced animated cartoon shorts. Despite the popularity of the short films, the company soon went bankrupt. That's when he struck out for Hollywood. He had some success with his first character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but due to licensing, he lost that character to Universal Studios.
Restoring Walt Disney's office to its original state was no small task.
Undaunted, Walt created Mickey Mouse in 1928 and had nearly overnight success. He was never one to rest on his laurels, and Walt kept pushing the creative boundaries of his art. After the success of Mickey, he created the Silly Symphonies cartoon series, which afforded him more creative license than the Mickey Mouse cartoons. More success and technological innovations followed, and Walt kept pushing his talented artists to achieve more, and he and his team soon developed the first feature length animated picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
As he earned more and more success in the film industry, Walt began looking for new challenges, which lead to the creation of Disneyland. The germ of the
Disneyland idea was simple, a place where families can have fun together, or as Walt tells it in his own words,
“The idea for Disneyland came about when my daughters were very young and Saturday was always Daddy’s day with the two daughters. So we’d start out and try to go someplace, you know, different things, and I’d take them to the merry-go-round and I took them different places and as I’d sit while they rode the merry-go-round and did all these things – sit on a bench, you know, eating peanuts – I felt that there should be something built where the parents and the children could have fun together. So that’s how Disneyland started. … from a daddy with two daughters wondering where he could take them where he could have a little fun with them, too.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger along with Disney's granddaughters Michelle Lund, Jennifer Goff, and Joanna Miller cutting the ribbon on Walt's restored office.
After the amazing success of Disneyland, Walt wanted to design a city, but unfortunately, he died of lung cancer before his biggest dream could be realized. While in the hospital, he told his son in law, Ron Miller, “If I could live for 15 more years, I would surpass everything I've done over the past forty years.”
After his death, Walt's brother, Roy Disney, who was the financial brains of the company, pushed back his retirement and picked up the reigns. He helped usher in the opening of Walt Disney World on October 1st, 1971. Having completed his little brother's dream, Roy died of a seizure two months after the opening. He was 78 years old.
Walt Disney left an immeasurable mark on the world. At the time of his death many news outlets editorialized that the world was a better place thanks to Walt's art and imagination. Now here we are, 50 years after his death, and the world is just as captivated by the magic of Walt Disney.