Thursday, February 28, 2013

Weekly Quote

"Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource - the minds of our children."
-Walt Disney

Tuesday, February 26, 2013



This section of the book covered from the start of World War Two in 1939 until 1950 when ideas for Disneyland were starting to be thought about. The war was a difficult time for the Disney Company. Because 45% of Walt's income for his cartoons came from the Countries at war. Walt continued to make films such as Fantasia, Dumbo but constantly worried about the finical problems they were having. Walt was invited to go to Washington DC where he would be asked to do propaganda films for the war. He agreed to do so but, these films made him no money so he still financially struggled(Read more in depth in "Focus") When the war ended the company was 4.3 million dollars in debt because of some unsuccessful films during the war period and residual money from the Great Depression. Though Walt and Roy were against it they had to do what was best for the company and decided to use stock to repay their enormous debt. The company's next problem came in 1941 when 40% of workers from his company went on strike because not only were they afraid of loosing their jobs because of the company's debt but also believed in the new movement of unionization. (Read more below.) The problem was eventually solved but ended in inevitable layoffs and a tense feeling throughout the workplace. Walt took a trip to South America for ten weeks with the purpose to find inspiration. This trip inspired Walt to create Saludos Amigos and the famous Three Caballeros. When the war with Japan came Disney had to give up some of his facility to the soldiers, thus forcing Disney's workers into a small section of the building. Walt also made shorts for this war paid for by the government. The projects Alice in Wonderland and Bambi were put on hold.
Protest 1941
The Three Caballeros
Once the war was over work was continued on these projects. Bambi was released first but was not high grossing fallowed by Alice in Wonderland. Walt expected only the best from his workers but did not often praise them. They were thanked by a surprise bonus in their pay check. Walt at home showed no signs that he was a celebrity. He didn't spoil his children but gave them all the comforts of life. He taught his girls how to swim and ride horseback. Walt took them to amusement parks on Sunday. He was much evolved in their lives and the family had no nanny like most Hollywood families did. Walt made a movie called Song of the South with the hit song Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. This movie was a transitional step because it had 30% cartoon and 70% live action (much like Mary Poppins years later).  Walt also had an obsession with trains and when he moved into his new home he built a one eight working scale model that he dedicated all his free time to. He polished it rode it and made tracks for it to ride though.   
Walt's Model Train
Walt stated experimenting with documentaries but decided to go back to full length cartoons. He released Cinderella after this revelation. Cinderella was a major success and with the help of some other films the debt was decreased and was now 1.7 million dollars. Alice in Wonderland was finally released as well as Peter Pan and The Story of Robin Hood. Now, with the accessibility of the television in everyday homes Walt made a Christmas special in 1950. During this time period Walt matured. He didn't care about money for his own but wanted his family to be taken care of after he died. Walt suffered from a neck injury from playing polo and a smoker’s cough from all the cigarettes he smoked.
Alice in Wonderland

Focus: Explain how World War Two affected Walt Disney Studios

The war was particularly difficult for Walt. He made mostly films he was commissioned to do by the government; so most of his own ideas were put on hold. Though these films did not get him out of dept and in fact it increased it. With many of his workers enlisting in the army Walt was left with few people to carry out the work. He was very unsuccessful keeping the moral of his workers up and was often found sad and depressed in his office. When the war ended Walt was left with 4,300,000 dollars in debt and a complete disconnect of what the people wanted because he had been making government films for so long. When Walt went to start new films, they didn't make any money for him. Bank of America called Walt and Roy into a meeting to decide what their bank was going to do with their company. They decided to give them a second chance. But now with the war over people strongly believed in unionization this belief and the impending changes at the Studio caused a protest with three hundred strikers. This was a big blow to Walt and caused him have a less intimate relationship with his creative staff.


This section really focused on the struggles that Disney faced during wartime.  It was not as engaging as the other sections have been and talked mainly about how the studio was facing financial difficulties.  The part I really enjoyed was when the author went into Walt as a father and husband.  It showed a new side of Walt that was unseen by those not in his imitate family and friends. It exposed Walt’s other love; trains.  The author spends time on the characteristics of Walt as a human not the famous animator.  Through this I feel that I could understand Walt’s motives and decisions.  I always saw Walt as a historical figure but as I read this book more and more I realized that there is so much more to him than that.

Friday, February 22, 2013



This section starts when Walt first came to Hollywood.  Walt applied to work as a director but companies turned him away.  So Walt and his brother Roy decided to become business partners and would create cartoons.  They found a distributor who would pay them for their cartoons including the Alice Comedies. Walt also sent for Ub to come and work as an animator with him in Hollywood.  After the signing of the contract with the distributor Roy and Walt rented a space in Los Angeles and called it the “Disney Brothers Studios.” When the “Alice Comedies became a hit Walt started hiring more employees one of them including a woman by the name of Lillian Bounds who he would marry in 1925.  With more employees came the need for a bigger place so they moved to a studio on Hyperion Avenue and with the move Roy changed the name to “Walt Disney Studios.” With Alice Comedies revenue diminishing Walt and Ub collaborated and launched a new series called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.   Unsuccessful at first, but Oswald grew into money making shorts.  Then Walt hit a road block when the distributor he signed with was going to steal his company and already had all Walt’s employees except Ub signed with him not Walt.  Walt went back to Kansas City feeling defeated.  But this feeling didn’t last long; soon Walt, Ub, and Roy were back in California and started to create Mickey Mouse.   They found a new distributor by the name of Pat Powers and with the financial help of Powers they made the first Mickey Mouse cartoon called Plane Crazy.  But it was Steamboat Willie (1928) that truly made the mouse famous because of its cutting edge technology of synchronizing music and dialogue with the cartoon.  Walt continued making Mickey cartoons with great success and soon moved to a new set of cartoons called Silly Symphonies.  Their distributor Pat Powers wasn’t paying the company enough money so when he went to go talk to him Powers said that he already had Ub signed with him. So, if Walt renewed the contract he could have Ub back but Disney declined and was hurt by his friend’s betrayal.  Walt became very stressed so his doctor recommended he take a vacation and take up a sport and that is just what he did.  After the trip in 1931, Roy signed a contact permitting to sell Mickey merchandise; including watches, stuffed animals, and toys which were a big hit with the public.  The next step for Walt was colored cartoons and in 1932 Flowers and Trees was the first Disney colored cartoon which he won an Oscar for as well as a special award for the creation of Mickey.  A year after his baby girl Diane Marie Disney was born on December 18.  During this time also created the Disney Art School for new artists and a place to train new employees.  In 1934 a new idea arose to make a full length motion picture called Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  This film was special because not only did it have music and color it had depth as well.  With the use of a multiplane camera different scenes are layered on top of each other to create three dimensional appearances. Three long years and over two million drawing later the film was finished.  Making eight million dollars and won Walt a very special Academy Award (seen below.) In 1936 Walt and Lillian adopted Sharon Mae Disney because Lillian was having birth complications. This was also the year that Walt’s mother died caused by asphyxiation by defective furnace.   Walt was out growing the Hyperion Studio and decided to build a new studio on Buena Vista Street in Burbank California.  Walt was very involved with the new building and wanted it to be a workers paradise.  At this time he was also working on Pinocchio next Fantasia was made, then Bambi. But with the start of the war in 1944 things began to halt at the studio.
Plane Crazy
 Steamboat Willie
Recieving Special Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


I found this section particularly interesting.  The beginning of Walt's career is a struggle and it is inspiring that he never gave up on his dream. His gains out weighted his losses.  Every struggle had a counter success.  In this section it really starts to interpret Disney's actions and tell of the man he really was.  He truly cared for his employees and was extremely committed to his job.  As I get deeper in my book I find that I am continually drawn to the book notice that I am always thinking about it.  The book is so intriguing and every Disney lover will fall head of heels for this enchanting story.

Flowers and Trees

Focus: Authors Point of View

Bob Thomas at the start of the book flashes back to when he was viewing the uncompleted Disneyland with Walt.  He was so intrigued by how Walt had such a clear vision on what Disneyland would become and how passionate he was about his work.  When Thomas decided to write this book on Walt's life he had numerous long interviews with Disney which he found that Walt was a very different man than he expected.  And after many years of research Thomas wrote the true story of Walt Disney.  Not just the story of his success but of the man he really was. An unsuccessful cartoonist from Kansas City who went bankrupt at his first cartoon attempts then developed into the American legend that we know of today. 

 Hyperion Studios
 Walt and Roy Disney

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weekly Quote

"I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter."
-Walt Disney

Walt in the early 30's

Monday, February 18, 2013


Summary: The Midwest Years

Walt Disney an American Original is a biography written by Bob Thomas takes the reader through Walt Disney's life. Walt was born December 5, 1901 in Marceline, Chicago on a farm. His parents Flora and Elias had five children Walt was the second youngest. His life was pleasant; his parents didn't spoil him, but loved him greatly though his father was a stern man and an entrepreneur. Flora was a lighthearted, loving, woman with a sense of humor polar opposite to her husband. At the Disney farm hard work was necessary to keep the business going. After years in Marceline, the Disney family moved to Kansas City where Disney made his first animation using a flipbook at the age of nine. Disney went to Benton Grammar School and his teachers described him as distracted and always reading adventure books. During six years of his childhood he was a paper boy for the Kansas City Star to help support his family. His family moved again once Elias Disney became a shareholder of the O-Zell jelly factory in Chicago. In Chicago during his young teen years he delivered letters and at school he drew cartoons for his school newspaper. When Walt was fifteen he worked as a train attendant. This experience triggered his life time love of trains and the future design elements of Disneyland. Disney at the age of sixteen was inspired by his brother to join the Navy, so he dropped out of High School to enlist; but was declined because of his age. Instead he decided to join the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. The Red Cross sent him to France but after one year the war ended and Disney went back to Kansas City Missouri where his career began to blossom.  He started working for a Pesman and Rubin Commercial Art drawing advertisements for companies. But when that company went bankrupt he and his work friend Ubbe Iwwerks decided to make their own company named “The Iwweks-Disney Commercial Artists.”  But when Walt got an offer at the as a Kansas City Film Ad Company the company dwindled.  Soon he started to make his own cartoon films and separated from the Film Ad to make his own company called “Laugh-O-Grams.”  His first cartoon film was Little Red Riding Hood and continued making films such as, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss and Boots, and Cinderella. Next came Alice’s Wonderland which redefined the cartoon industry.  It had a real young actress by the name of Virginia Davis acting with cartoons.  But their profits were not enough to pay all of the workers and the company soon went bankrupt.  Disney didn’t give up and bought a one way ticket to Hollywood to become a director.

Laugh-O-Gram Studios
Alice Comedies Ad
Alice's Wonderland


I have really enjoyed this book so far. It has given a great insight to the early life and history behind the young Walt Disney. It really shows his struggles in childhood and the lead up to what would be an amazing career. Fans of Disneyland will find this book interesting because of its in depth descriptions of the beginning of Walt’s success. The author writes in such an intriguing way that you feel as if you are watching a movie on Disney’s life not reading a book. It is clear that the author is very knowledgeable on Walt Disney and writes in a way that is more like a story and less like a Biography. I have honestly learned an ample amount of information about Disney and how his past foreshadows the future path that he will take. I loved how the author portrayed the transition between the farm in Marceline to Chicago: “All his remembered years had been spent amid the calm fields and country lanes of a farming town. Now the boy saw broad boulevards filled with trolleys and automobiles” (Thomas 33). This way of writing gives the reader a look into what Disney saw.


·         What atmosphere would the Laugh-O-Grams Studios be like?
·         Will the friendship with Ubbe Iwwerks continue through Disney’s life?
·         Will Walt be able to make it in Hollywood?
·         Why did Walt purchase a first class ticket to Hollywood even though he had only forty dollars in his pocket and only one coat?
·         What will Walt do first when he gets to Hollywood?
Note: Please view hyperlinked words in summary passage for videos, more information, and interesting sites .


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A blog on the wonders of Walt Disney a simple man from Kansas City.