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The Life and Career of Walt Disney

This past weekend I visited Disney World in Orlando, FL with my in-laws. As a curious investor looking from the outside in at this marvelous creation, I wanted to write some thoughts about Disney's creative genius and the development of his massive media empire. It was hard not to notice the signs at Disney World of Walt Disney's creative restlessness. He was always wishing to be doing more, driving the future forward, and re-imagining what was possible. It's also hard to miss Walt's love for America and her ideals of liberty and freedom in the Hall of Presidents, the Carousel of Progress, and the Liberty Show. How did one man accomplish all of this?


Walt was very creative and entrepreneurial from an early age, learning to draw cartoon drawings by his early teenage years and working a paper route as a young boy through high school (sounds familiar - Warren Buffett?). As he came into his late teenage years, he lied about his age and joined the WWI fight in 1918 as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. As fate would have it, another one of his close compatriots in the company was Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's. They would remain close friends until Disney's death in 1966.


If you can dream it, you can do it


After the war, Disney hopped around from job to job, making ends meet, when he finally found his break and signed a contract with Margaret Winkler to create six episodes of Alice's Wonderland. The Disney Brothers' Studios - later to become The Walt Disney Company - was born. In 1928, after negotiations with Universal Pictures went sideways (Disney wanted a larger share of the profits for creating Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's character) and most of his staff left for Universal, he had his first stroke of true brilliance - the creation of Mickey Mouse.Within 5 years he had won an Academy Award and his illustrious career began to take off. His studio began churning out award winning movies one after another:


1933 The Three Little Pigs

1937 Snow White

1938 Pinocchio

1940 Fantasia

1941 Dumbo

1950 Cinderella