The Empire of Disney


The benevolent emperor, Walt Disney, has bestowed upon you the gift of glorious animated films.

When one thinks of Disney, images of princesses, castles, and Mickey Mouse come to mind. One thinks of what a fantastic, family friendly company they are. “Oh yes! I love Disney movies! They carry such a great message!” Disney is synonymous with happy, warm fuzzy feelings and adorable animated characters. Everybody and their brother watched at least one Disney princess find her way to “happy ever after” at some point in their lives. Anyone living in a first world country in the present era has been exposed to Disney in some way, shape, or form. To not be aware of Disney is like not being aware that the sun rises in the morning. Disney is one of the most iconic and reputable companies in America; they started in a garage with little funding and a founder who was fired from a newspaper due to lack of creativity. How is this possible? How is the company so influential? Why is Disney so famous?

Disney is no ordinary animation studio. They are an economic powerhouse with corners on different markets on many levels, including animated family films, family vacations, and resorts. They have conquered sports broadcasting and television entertainment, including kids TV. They are responsible for the rise of many popular figures in music and entertainment, like people such as Miley Cyrus and Zac Efron. Disney is an empire – an empire with deep roots. They rose from their humble beginnings in Walt Disney’s garage into a vast and sprawling domain that spans across the world of popular culture.

Now back up. Disney started in a garage?  Indeed, they did. The corporate powerhouse had its modest start within the garage of one Walt Disney’s uncle Robert’s garage. In this garage, Disney created his first film, Alice’s Wonderland. The film is twelve minutes long, but it started the snowball effect that eventually lead to the Empire of Disney. Disney grew slowly, with Walt and trusted, hand picked associates creating cartoons and animating movies. Disney’s first feature length film, animated by Disney himself, was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released in 1937. Ever growing and ever expanding, Disney began to make a name for himself, and he began to acquire more deals and create more movies, such as Fantasia, a critically acclaimed Disney classic that was released in 1940. As the years continued, Disney grew progressively larger, first releasing stocks, then a television show, and even its own theme park. All of the ideas and creations of Disney and his trusted associates were gobbled up by the public, and the Kingdom of Disney continued expanding, stretching its borders even, even after Walt Disney’s death in 1966. They opened more theme parks in places around the world, including Tokyo and Paris. A Broadway show titled Beauty and the Beast was created. Hyperion, a publishing company created by Disney, was opened. Built from the ground up, Disney’s realm was solid and well known, with many different assets and clear ideology. The difference between Disney’s kingdom status and empire status came when they acquired ABC for $19 billion dollars in 1995. This acquisition marked the time where Disney began to grow exponentially.  From this point they grew into the massive corporation that they are today, purchasing other franchises; now they own ESPN, the Muppets, Pixar, Marvel, and most recently Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC, the company most notable for its revolutionary movie series, Star Wars.

Now that one can see how Disney grew into such a grand dominion, perhaps it can be explained why Disney is one of the most influential and prominent American companies of all time. Disney has managed to keep its empire stable and continually expanding because simple principles Walt Disney laid down years ago are still followed today. He once said, “I hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” This statement lays down the premise of everything Disney upholds; it is a company true to its values. At Disney, employees are called “associates” and creative designers are called “imagineers”. This idea shows the respect and dedication Disney shows for its staff, allowing them to assist Disney’s customers (called guests) in reaching maximum enjoyment. Perhaps the most exceptional and attractive feature of Disney’s products lies in that they focus on “the experience” and exceeding guests’ expectations as opposed to maximizing profits. In fact, Disney once went bankrupt in 1923 and came dangerously close several times after that. Despite this, they grew into the powerhouse they are today. Because they focus so heavily on customer’s enjoyment instead of money, people come back for more and spread the word of their amazing experiences, whether those experiences be a cruise, movie, or trip to an amusement park. In short, Disney’s focus on the “guests” allows them to stand out above any other company in terms of customer satisfaction.

As Jack Scott said in his article about empires a few weeks back, just because an country (or company, in Disney’s case) is considered an “empire” and domineer their lands(or, market) does not mean that they are necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Disney being one of the leading corporate empire is most certainly more beneficial to society than a company such as EA or Comcast leading the corporate world. EA is most recently noted for charging $80 for a game that did not even work properly, and Comcast was voted worst company in America 2010 and 2014.  While comparing Disney to Comcast may seem like comparing apples to oranges, the main preface stands that a first-class company like Disney benefits the corporate world (and everyone’s lives) better than a third-rate company such as Comcast.

All in all, Disney deserves the place that it has carved in the corporate world, and has something for everyone, young and old. You do not have to be a younger child to enjoy their animated films, and you do not have to be a middle aged man to enjoy ESPN. Disney makes content and gives its customers more satisfaction than a vast majority of other corporations out there. So next time something with the label “Disney” on it appears, do not just blow it off as a children’s item. The Empire of Disney is benevolent and brings happiness to many people of all ages all over the globe. The new Star Wars may not be made by its original creator, but you can guarantee that if it is made by Disney, then you can expect a respectable effort and an overall good movie. If you have not already, give Disney a chance, because they might just surprise you.