The Walt Disney Company (most commonly known as Disney) (NYSE: DIS) is one of the largest media and entertainment corporations in the world. Founded on October 16, 1923 by brothers Walt and Roy Disney as a small animation studio, today it is one of the largest Hollywood studios and also owns nine theme parks and several television networks, including ABC.
Disney's corporate headquarters and primary production facilities are located at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. The company is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It had revenues of $31.9 billion in 2005.
Disney's main operating units are Walt Disney Studio Entertainment, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Media Networks,
and Walt Disney Consumer Products.
Walt Disney Studio Entertainment, also known as the Walt Disney Studios, is possibly the most important function of the
company. Headed by chairman Dick Cook, until 1955, the Walt Disney Company's main form of business was motion pictures. Today, the Walt Disney Studios is the collective name
of Disney's movie studios, record labels, distribution companies, television studios, animation houses and any other form
of optical media.
The Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group is a collection of Disney's main movie studios, made up of;
Buena Vista Music Group
Parks and Resorts
- Main article: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Under Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the company also operates through Disney Regional Entertainment the ESPN Zone sports-themed restaurants. The company also owned through Anaheim Sports, Inc. the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey club, which it recently agreed to sell to Broadcom executive Henry Samueli, and owned the Anaheim Angels baseball team, which was later sold to advertising magnate Arturo Moreno. Parks and Resorts also includes the two design studios, Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Creative Entertainment
Its Media Networks unit is centered around the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network, which it acquired through a merger with Capital Cities/ABC in 1996.
Disney also owns a group of cable networks including: The Disney Channel, ABC Family, Toon Disney, the ESPN group, and SOAPnet. Disney also holds substantial interest in Lifetime (50%), A&E (37.5%), and E! (40%).
Through ABC, Disney also owns 10 local television stations, 26 local radio stations, and ESPN Radio, Radio Disney, and the ABC Radio (to be sold with another properties to Citadel Broadcasting, which carries such radio personalities as Sean Hannity and Paul Harvey and distributes news bulletins by ABC News. Buena Vista Television, which also is a part of the Media Networks unit, produces such syndicated television programs as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Live with Regis and Kelly, and Ebert & Roeper.
Disney also operates its Hyperion publishing company and Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) through Media Networks. Hyperion has recently published books by comedian-author Steve Martin and bestselling author Mitch Albom. WDIG includes the Go.com web portal, based on the old Infoseek search engine which it purchased in 1998, and leading websites such as Disney.com, ESPN.com, and ABCNews.com.
- Disney Publishing Worldwide
- Disney Store
- Jim Henson's Muppets
- Disney DVD & Video
- Walt Disney Records
- 1923: The Disney Bros. Cartoon Studio, founded in October 16th by brothers Walt and Roy Disney and animator Ub Iwerks, produces the Alice in Cartoonland series.
- 1925: At Walt Disney's insistence, the company is renamed Walt Disney Studios.
- 1927: The Alice series ends; Disney picks up the contract to animate Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
- 1928: Walt loses the Oswald series contract; first Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie released
- 1929: First Silly Symphony: The Skeleton Dance. On December 16, the original partnership formed in 1923 is replaced by Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. Three other companies, Walt Disney Enterprises, Disney Film Recording Company, and Liled Realty and Investment Company, are also formed.
- 1930: First appearance of Pluto
- 1932: First three-strip Technicolor short released: Flowers and Trees; first appearance of Goofy
- 1934: First appearance of Donald Duck
- 1937: Studio produces its first feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- 1938: On September 29th, Walt Disney Enterprises, Disney Film Recording Company, and Liled Realty and Investment Company are merged
into Walt Disney Productions.
- 1940: Studio moves to the Burbank, California buildings where it is located to this day
- 1941: A bitter animators' strike occurs; as the USA enters World War II, the studio begins making morale-boosting propaganda films for the government
- 1944: The company is short on cash; a theatrical re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs generates much-needed revenue
and begins a reissue pattern for the animated feature films.
- 1945: The studio hires its first-ever live actor for a film, James Baskett, to star as Uncle Remus in Song of the South
- 1949: The studio begins production on its first all-live action feature, Treasure Island; the popular True-Life Adventures series begins
- 1952: Walt Disney forms WED Enterprises on December 16 to design his theme park.
- 1953: Walt Disney forms Retlaw Enterprises on April 6 to control the rights to his name. It will later own and operate several attractions inside Disneyland, including
the Monorail and the Disneyland Railroad.
- 1954: The studio founds Buena Vista Distribution to distribute its feature films; beginning of the Disneyland TV program
- 1955: Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California. Walt Disney Productions owns 34.5 percent of Disneyland, Inc. It increases its stake in 1957 to 65.5 percent, then purchases
the remaining shares from ABC in 1960.
- 1961: The studio licenses the film rights to Winnie-the-Pooh, whose characters continue to be highly profitable to this day; international distribution arm Buena Vista International is established.
- 1964: The company starts buying land near Orlando, Florida for Walt Disney World (then known as Disney World or The Florida Project)
- 1965: The regular production of short subjects ceases, as theatres no longer have any demand for them. Walt Disney Productions
acquires WED Enterprises.
- 1966: Official plans are announced for Disney's Mineral King Ski Resort, later canceled. Walt Disney dies. His brother Roy takes over.
- 1967: Construction begins on Walt Disney World; the underlying governmental structure (see Reedy Creek Improvement District) is signed into law.
- 1971: The Walt Disney World Resort opens in Orlando, Florida; Roy Oliver Disney dies; Donn Tatum becomes chairman and Card Walker becomes president.
- 1977: Roy Edward Disney, son of Roy and nephew of Walt, resigns from the company citing a decline in overall product quality and issues with management.
- 1978: The studio licenses several minor titles to MCA Discovision for laserdisc release; only TV compilations of cartoons ever see the light of day through this deal.
- 1979: Don Bluth and a number of his allies leave the animation division; the studio releases its first PG-rated film, The Black Hole
- 1980: Tom Wilhite becomes head of the film division with the intent of modernizing studio product; a home video division is created
- 1981: Plans for a cable network are announced.
- 1982: EPCOT Center opens at Walt Disney World; Walt Disney's son-in-law Ron W. Miller succeeds Card Walker as CEO
- 1983: As the anthology series is canceled, The Disney Channel begins operation on US cable systems; Tom Wilhite resigns his post; Tokyo Disneyland opens in Japan
- 1984: Touchstone Pictures is created; after the studio narrowly escapes a buyout attempt by Saul Steinberg, Roy Edward Disney and his business partner, Stanley Gold, remove Ron W. Miller as CEO and president, replacing him with Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. The Walt Disney Black Diamond Classics video series is created.
- 1985: The studio begins making cartoons for television beginning with Adventures of the Gummi Bears and The Wuzzles ; The home video release of Pinocchio is a best-seller.
- 1986: The studio's first R-rated release comes from Touchstone Pictures; the anthology series is revived; the company's name is changed on February 6 from Walt Disney Productions to The Walt Disney Company.
- 1987: The company and the French government sign an agreement for the creation of the first Disney Resort in Europe: the Euro Disney project starts.
- 1989: Disney offers a deal to buy Jim Henson's Muppets and have the famed puppeteer work with Disney resources; the Disney-MGM Studios open at Walt Disney World; The Little Mermaid sparks an animation renaissance.
- 1990: Jim Henson's death sours the deal to buy his holdings; the anthology series canceled for second time.
- 1991: Beauty and the Beast is the first animated film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- 1992: The controversial Euro Disney Resort opens outside Paris, France.
- 1993: Disney acquires independent film distributor Miramax Films; Winnie the Pooh merchandise outsells Mickey Mouse merchandise for the first time; the policy of periodic theatrical re-issues ends with this year's re-issue of Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs but is augmented for video.
- 1994: Frank Wells is killed in a helicopter crash. Jeffrey Katzenberg resigns to co-found his own studio, DreamWorks SKG. Plans for Disney's America, a historical theme park in Haymarket, Virginia, are abruptly dropped. No explanation is given, and Disney announces a search for an alternate location. Euro Disneyland
is renamed Disneyland Paris. The Classics video line is unofficially cancelled and replaced with the Masterpiece Collection. The Lion King, the highest-grossing traditionally animated film in history, is released.
- 1995: In October, the company hires Hollywood super agent, Michael Ovitz, to be president.
- 1996: The company takes on the Disney Enterprises name for non-Walt Disney branded ventures and acquires the Capital Cities/ABC group, renaming it ABC, Inc. In December, Michael Ovitz, president of the company, leaves "by mutual consent." To celebrate
the pairing, ABC's first Super Soap Weekend is held at Walt Disney World.
- 1997: The anthology series is revived again; the home video division releases its first DVDs.
- 1998: Disney's Animal Kingdom opens at Walt Disney World.
- 2000: Robert Iger becomes president and COO. Disney begins their Gold Classic Collection DVD line, replacing their Masterpiece Collection series.
- 2001: Disney-owned TV channels are pulled from Time Warner Cable briefly during a dispute over carriage fees; Disney's California Adventure and Tokyo DisneySea open to the public; Disney begins releasing Walt Disney Treasures DVD box sets for the collector's market. Disney buys Fox Family for $3 billion in July, giving Disney programming and cable network reaching 81 million homes.
- 2002: Walt Disney Studios open near Disneyland Paris (renamed Disneyland Park). The entire area is now called Disneyland Resort Paris. Disney finishes negotions to acquire Saban Entertainment, owner of children's entertainment juggernaut Power Rangers. Subsidiary Miramax acquires the USA rights to the Pokémon movies starting with the fourth movie. Disney teams up with famous video game company Square-Enix (famous for the Final Fantasy Series. Also at the time, known as Squaresoft.) to release the first ever Disney role-playing game, Kingdom Hearts.
- 2003: Roy E. Disney resigns as the chairman of Feature Animation and from the board of directors, citing similar reasons to those that drove
him off 26 years earlier; fellow director Stanley Gold resigns with him; they establish "Save Disney" to apply public pressure to oust Michael Eisner. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl becomes the first film released under the Disney label with a PG-13 rating.
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