Disney produced the first feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938), which took three years to complete. Additional features included Pinocchio (1939), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942). In Song of the South (1946), he merged live actors and animated figures. During World War II, Disney's studio produced cartoons for the armed services as training tools and morale builders.
Beginning with Treasure Island in 1951, Disney added live-action movies to his output, while still producing such animated classics as Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953). Thereafter, his studio produced several animal stories (e.g., Greyfriars Bobby, 1960), musical fantasies (e.g., Mary Poppins, 1964), and television programs, beginning in the early 1950s with the weekly Disneyland and its famous Mouseketeers. Disney and his productions received numerous Academy and other awards during his lifetime. After his death, the Disney studios remained active, diversified, and ultimately became enormously successful. In the early 1980s, they began producing films for adults, and in the 1990s they greatly expanded into television with the acquisition of the ABC network and related television assets. The acquisition of 20th Century Fox (later 20th Century Studios) in 2019 further increased the Walt Disney Co.'s film and television business.
Disneyland, a huge theme park in Anaheim, Calif., which in part celebrates America's hometowns and small-town values, was opened by Disney in 1955. Disney's California Adventure, a second, smaller theme park in Anaheim, opened adjacent to Disneyland in 2001. An even bigger park, Walt Disney World, opened near Orlando, Fla., in 1971 as a theme park and resort, and Epcot Center, Disney-MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom have since been added there. Disneyland parks have also opened near Tokyo (1983), in Marne-la-Vallée, near Paris (1992), in Hong Kong (2005), and in Shanghai (2016).
See biographies by D. D. Miller and P. Martin (1956), B. Thomas (1958), M. Eliot (1993), S. Watts (1998), and N. Gabler (2006); R. Schickel, The Disney Version (1968); C. Finch, The Art of Walt Disney (1973); R. Merritt and J. B. Kaufman, Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney (1994); H. A. Giroux, The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence (1999); D. Smith and S. Clark, Disney: The First 100 Years (1999); R. Snow, Disney's Land (2019).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Film and Television: Biographies