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Businesses That Started In A Garage: Disney

Today, I have another addition to our list of famous companies that got their start in a garage. I have two words for you: Mickey Mouse. You guessed it! The company I’m talking about is Disney. Discover some facts about the humble beginnings of this dynamic company that’s known throughout the world.

Walt Disney’s Early Years

From an early age, Walt Disney loved to draw and create interesting characters. His dream was to become a cartoonist for a newspaper. As a teenager, he contributed drawings to the McKinley High School newspaper in Chicago. In 1919, after serving in France with the Red Cross Ambulance Corps, he took a job as an advertising cartoonist in Kansas City, Missouri. A few years later, Disney made the decision to move to California and start his own studio with the help of his brother Roy.

The Disney Brothers

In 1923, Walt Disney and his brother set up shop in their uncle Robert’s garage in California. The garage offered enough space for Walt’s drawing materials, a makeshift animation table, and an animation camera. Walt’s uncle charged them a few dollars a week in rent, and they worked there for a couple of months before moving into their own office space. The following year, friend and fellow animator Ub Iwerks joined the team, and in 1927, Iwerks and Walt Disney created a character named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, their first breakout success. Universal Studios made several black-and-white cartoons featuring the character. But after a contract dispute, Walt Disney left Universal, which kept the rights to Oswald. This prompted Disney and Iwerks to create another unique character.

Introducing Mickey Mouse

Disney started working on a cartoon called Plane Crazy featuring a character named Mickey Mouse. The 1928 work was a silent, black-and-white cartoon. However, while making Plane Crazy, Walt and Roy took note of the growing popularity of movies with sound, also known as talkies. That year, they would release two more Mickey shorts, the second of which was Steamboat Willie . Steamboat Willie stars Mickey Mouse and is known as the first animated movie with synchronized sound. The character of Mickey Mouse was a big hit with the public. Walt and Roy licensed Mickey’s image, and it was placed on a tablet of notebook paper for kids, which was soon followed by many other products. Soon, Mickey’s image would be recognized throughout the world.

Exploring the Latest Technology

Walt Disney continued experimenting with new technology in his work. For example, he used Technicolor in his films and even won an Academy Award in 1932 for a short animated film called Flowers and Trees. Flowers and Trees was the first film in full three-strip Technicolor. Walt Disney was then inspired to move into creating full-length, color films, the first one being Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in December of 1937. Other favorites quickly followed, including Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi. The list of beloved films created by Walt Disney grew over the next three decades, until his death in 1966.

Disney Studios Today

Today, the flourishing Walt Disney Studios is located on 50 acres of land in Burbank, California. That seems an awfully long way from the company’s start in Uncle Robert’s garage, doesn’t it? But that garage was a necessary step on the path to the company’s success.

Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” He was certainly living proof of that. Thanks for reading. – Alan

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