Disney Company or Walt Disney as it is popularly known started in October 1923. Walt Disney and his brother Roy Disney began the Disney company at the back of a real estate office in Los Angeles. The Disney brothers began with producing a series known as Alice Comedies. Their company was going by the name Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio but they later changed the name to Walt Disney Studio. The new name had been suggested by Roy.
The Alice Comedies were cartoon series based on the story of a little girl from Kansas City known as Alice. The first film to be aired under this series was titled Alice’s Wonderland. The second film was titled Alice’s Day at Sea and aired in March 1924. Many other films would follow in the Alice series. The first film had been made while Walt Disney was still heading the Laugh-O-Gram studios in Kansas. He had made it with the help of Ub Iwerks. Virginia Davis played the role of Alice. When Disney moved to Carlifornia, he convinced Virginia’s parents to let her come to Carlifornia so she could continue stirring in the Alice Comedies. Virginia played alongside animated characters.
The Alice Comedies were distributed by Winker Productions which was owned by Margaret Winker. Disney was paid $1500 per reel by the distribution company for these series. In 1925, Disney company purchased land in Hyperion Street to build a new studio as the company had expanded and they needed more space. The studio was completed in January 1926 and the Disney company moved there.
After the Alice Comedies came to an end, Disney ventured in all-cartoon productions. He produced a cartoon series about a rabbit called Oswald. This too was distributed by Winker Productions but Disney didn’t make much from it as Oswald was owned by the distributor. There was later a legal tussle involving Disney and Winker’s husband Charles Mintz which led to Disney losing Oswald altogether as well as losing some of his staff to Mintz.
Disney bounced back from the loss and in 1928, he created the famous Mickey Mouse Character and starred Mickey in various films afterwards. The first film in which Mickey Mouse stirred was called Willie’s Steamboat and aired in November 1928. It was distributed by Pat Powers company. Willie’s Steamboat was well received not only because people liked Mickey but also because it was the first cartoon film with synchronized sound. Productions of more series featuring Mickey followed and Disney later on also began producing the Silly Symphonies series.
With the success of the films, Disney thought of merchandising the film characters. Disney received $300 for Mickey Mouse to be used as a pencil image. Mickey Mouse was thereafter used in many other products. In 1930, a comic strip of Mickey Mouse was published in a newspaper and a Mickey Mouse book was also published.
Disney ventured into animated feature films in 1934. Three years later, the first film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released and it was a hit. Disney company suffered for a while because of the World War but it regained balance in 1950 with the production of Treasure Island and Cinderella. In 1955, Disney constructed a theme park, Disneyland in Carlifornia. Walt died in 1966 but his brother Roy oversaw the construction of another much larger park in Florida before he also died in 1970. The 28,000 acres park opened in 1971.
The staff left behind took over the running of the company and since then Disney has expanded to several areas including network television and radio.