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.
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.