Dreams. Everyone has them. Sometimes they are large, some are small. When we achieve our dreams, we celebrate. Some dreams are so large, they are ridiculed and told they are impossible. How we respond to the criticism defines who we are. Do we fold under the pressure and conform to what those around say is realistic? Or do we push past our critics and press on to accomplish what we dream of?
One such dreamer, Walter Elias Disney, was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago Illinois. Walt and his family moved quite a bit in his childhood, from Chicago, to Marceline, Missouri, to Kansas City, and back to Chicago. It was in Marceline, where Walt lived for four years that his imagination and artistry began to develop.
In 1918 Walt joined the Red Cross so he could serve in World War I. Upon his return from Europe, Walt moved back to Kansas City to begin his animation career. He soon started the Laugh-O-Gram studios, which had limited, but not a lasting, success in Kansas City. Following the bankruptcy of the studio, Walt Disney moved to Hollywood to try his luck there.
Walt and his brother Roy teamed up to form the Disney Brothers Studio in 1923, and launched the Alice Comedies series, a mixture of live action and animation. From here, Walt and his team of animators created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey Mouse, his animated feature films, and then Disneyland.
What makes Walt Disney so special? It’s a complicated answer. It’s partially because he produced so many amazing animated characters and films. It’s partially because he created a magical theme park, which has because an empire of theme parks throughout the world. But for me, the thing that makes Walt such a special person is the way he overcame his critics and his failures.
“No” was simply not an answer Walt was willing to accept. He would find a way to make his dream come true. After losing the majority of his animated staff and the Oswald character, Walt worked with those who remained to create Mickey Mouse, his most famous character. When he was told he could not create an animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs silenced the critics and garnered Walt special recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Even after creating several animated and live action films, Walt Disney was being told his dream of creating an amusement park was just that, a dream. Instead, Walt pressed on and created Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Essentially, the only thing that would hold Walt Disney back was his imagination, and what an imagination did he have!
It’s been 112 years since Walt Disney was born. It’s been 47 years since he passed away in 1966, and yet his footprint is still indelible on the planet. Because of the dreams he had, the world is a better place. To Walt Disney, or Uncle Walt, as he preferred to be called, happy birthday. Thank you for the many gifts and projects you bestowed to us.
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