Walt Disney gets the lion’s share of the credit for the success of the Disney company in its first four decades, and deservedly so. But many people don’t realize the influence that Walt’s older brother Roy had on the company. Roy served as Walt’s business partner and handled the business decisions for the company from its founding until his passing in 1971. Bob Thomas, author of Walt Disney: An American Original, published Building A Company: Roy O. Disney And The Creation Of An Entertainment Empire. Thomas’ biography of Roy tells his story like no one else can.
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Walt Disney once said:
Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.
Disney admitted to a patriotism that occasionally overwhelmed him. His love of country showed up in his films and television programs and has carried on in the theme parks that bear his name nearly half a century after his death. Sometimes the Disney brand of patriotism makes itself known in subtle ways, while at other times, it jumps directly in your face.
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Today marks the 110th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth. Disney started with little more than talent and ambition and built one of the most powerful entertainment empires known to man. Many people think of him as simply the man who created Mickey Mouse, or as a television host or studio head, but Disney played a vital, hands-on role in his company’s success.
In honor of Disney’s birthday, here is a list of five of his greatest innovations. Some of them are obvious, while others aren’t as well known. But all changed the way we view entertainment and art.
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Last week, I printed out a coupon for my brother for the Blu-ray of The Princess And The Frog. The coupon had a slogan on the bottom of the page that I hadn’t seen before and that intrigued me: “Genuine Disney Movies…Excellence Every Time.”
OK, so even a hardcore Disneyphile like myself can admit that it’s a bit of hyperbole to state that Disney hits the mark on excellence every time. I bet there were plenty of times when Walt begged God to rain down plagues upon Michael Eisner for the cheap, direct-to-video sequels that Disney Animation had to do in the 90’s. And I think in the last decade or so, they’ve worn out the premise of the middle-aged man who has to take care of the child he never knew he had. And don’t get me started on Lilo & Stitch.
But the other side of the coin is that Disney achieves excellence more often that not. The Disney studio in its various forms has produced consistent entertainment for nearly 90 years. The most highly revered of the classic animated films, including Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Aladdin, and Toy Story, carried the Disney name. Live action films from Swiss Family Robinson to Seal Island to The Sixth Sense to The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe are all Disney productions. Disney created innovative television series going all the way back to the Disneyland series in the 50s up to shows like Lost today. Cast members at five Disney theme parks on three continents ensure an immersive vacation experience for hundreds of thousands of guests each year.
All this got me thinking…how often to I achieve excellence in what I do? I know I don’t reach the heights of Disney, but do I create excellence more often than not? I’m sure that there are even times when I think I’ve done something with excellence and I haven’t come anywhere close to hitting the mark.
Paul makes it pretty clear that we should achieve excellence no matter what our tasks are:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
If we all thought about our jobs…our lives at home…our everyday existence in those terms, I think we’d all do better at everything. I can’t help but think that we’d truly see excellence every time with believers who live out those verses. And I truly believe that the world would take notice of us more as well.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Today is the 107th anniversary of the birth of one of my earthly heroes — Walt Disney. I pray that the creative spirit that he inspired in so many never goes out.
Sixty years ago today, Walt Disney circulated a memo to his staff about a little idea he had called a “Mickey Mouse Park.” His ideas changed quite a bit over the next seven years to create Disneyland, which of course led to his unquenchable desire to “plus” himself and create Walt Disney World, with the help of the WED/Imagineering staff who bravely carried on after his death. I’ll be so bold as to say that the little memo that came out six decades ago today was the spark of what is now Walt Disney’s truest legacy: the creative, completely immersive vacation experience. And for that, I’m grateful…
Long time, no post…but sometimes there’s not much to say…know what I mean?
It’s Independence Day, and I’d be remiss not to express my gratitude to our forefathers for forging this nation as one based on fundamental freedom, our troops for defending and protecting that freedom, and to my Heavenly Father for making everything possible. To quote the great one–Walt Disney–“I thank God and America for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of tolerance, democracy, and freedom.”
We live in an era in which it would be easy to think that our liberty is eroding, where freedom is taken far too lightly, where even the word freedom itself is abused to suit all kinds of agendas. I pray that those who love this country, as well as those who benefit from the freedom that America offers, never take that freedom for granted.
On a much lighter note, this year might have been the best fireworks display that I can recall here in Newton County, but if you want to see the most amazing, most perfectly timed and executed fireworks display, click here to see the Magic Kingdom’s 4th of July week fireworks…and here it is from another angle.
I got another great Walt Disney book this week, this one a used book originally distributed to Disney cast members containing quotes from Walt Disney himself.
From everything I’ve read, he considered himself a believer in Jesus Christ even though he did not attend church in his adult life (he did raise his daughters to attend church, however).
Here’s one of his quotes on faith:
“I ask of myself, ‘Live a good Christian life.’ Towards that objective I bend every effort in shaping my personal, domestic, and professional activities and growth.”
What an amazing philosophy on life. I wish more Christians lived like that more often. Most of all, I wish I lived like that more often.
I’m also pretty impressed that the company included that quote in the book…smack in the middle of the Eisner era, no less.
I came across this link last night: The Walt Disney Signature Collection. It’s beautiful, art-moderne style furniture supposedly inspired by Walt Disney’s own office and home furniture. It must be pretty pricey stuff; the website doesn’t give prices, but the catalog alone cost $25 to order.
I have mixed feelings about this. Using Walt Disney’s name to sell high-end furniture? I guess that’s part of our modern world, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with it. I’d be proud to own a piece that is equated with someone whose creativity and integrity I admire…besides, who doesn’t need a “martini table,” but then again I’m sure I (and countless other Disney fans) can’t afford it.