It’s hard to imagine a company with a more profound impact on popular culture than Disney. Since its conception in the early twentieth century, Disney has taken over all sorts of media and given birth to movies (live and animated), TV shows, video games, theme parks in four countries on three continents, a travel agency, a TV channel, sports channel, streaming service, a private island, and a fleet of cruise ships, as well as all sorts of bizarre fandoms, fan art, and truly disturbing fan theories scattered all over the Internet. And while other studios make cheap, pandering movies featuring Minions, bossy babies, and *groan* emojis, Disney is known for a solid streak of creative, innovative projects. And except for the occasional misstep in the form of a “Superstar Limo,” this company has been able to maintain this reputation for ninety years. In terms of influence, no other corporation has changed the face of modern society, except perhaps the British East India Company. And when the only comparable business to yours helped run a quarter of the world’s landmass, that’s nothing to sniff at.
I’ve traveled to Disney parks many times before and I still can’t decide whether I enjoy the experience so much because of the attractions themselves, or rather the stellar management of the parks. And this reflects across the whole company. Disney has created an identity for itself, one known for high quality and adaptability. And it also knows what people of all ages want and delivering- without selling out.
I realize I’m out of the target age range for most of their products; it’s obvious the films are primarily made for young children. But unlike, you know, a Despicable Me movie, where there’s cheap animation, flatulence-themed comedy, and tactically-employed mascots, Disney movies still manage to capture my attention. That’s what they do best, really- luring you in and attaching you to these movies. Nowadays, their target audience has expanded to well- everyone. And when you go online and see the hordes of grown adults who trample through the parks donning Mickey Ears, it’s clear to see Disney has imbued a sense of wonder in multiple generations. Disney has found a way to be timeless.
Disney’s adaptability has served them well. Think of Disney as the Windsors; they’re both practically the same age. Both of them have seen superpowers fall, industries collapse, and inside conflicts revolutionize their operations. Yet both stand because they discovered ways to exist in new worlds. Where the Windsors found their niche in becoming more relatable to the British public in the 1969, Disney has instilled itself in the general populace with its products. And that’s what enthralls me so much; how Disney has lasted so long, and thrives today. We are talking about a studio that has lived through the Great Depression, World War Two, financial flops, the loss of its leader, strikes, corporate thievery, betrayal, the creation of rival studios, and the rise of CGI.
In advance of my future trip to Disney World pretty soon, I’m studying the history of Disney. How it rose to what it was, and perhaps what it will transform into. Think of this as a history course for dummies. I’ll research the subjects and convey them, and they’re a ton to go off of. I’m talking about Walt Disney, how he changed motion pictures forever, Disneyland, Disney World, how the company changed after Walt’s death, the rivalry of DreamWorks and other studios, and the tumultuous acquisition of other properties like Marvel and Star Wars. Most of all, we’ll explore how this company, more than any other since the British East India Company, enforced turning points that changed the modern world. Buckle up.