General * Walt Disney * More Fun Facts
- The Walt Disney Company was founded in 1923, so our 50th anniversary would have been in 1973. Next year will be the 75th anniversary.
- Football announcer John Madden left ABC to broadcast NFL games on NBC. NBC also wanted his partner, Al Michaels, but he was still under contract to ABC (which is owned by Disney). So to get Michaels, NBC sold to Disney the rights to "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit", a 1927 cartoon character in 26 silent cartoons created by Walt Disney a year before Mickey Mouse. The first trade of a broadcaster for a rabbit!
- Retlaw was Walt's own personal company which took in his income for the rights to his name, stock income and other income paid to him, hence the name "Retlaw" - "Walter" spelled backwards. It was never a subsidiary of the Disney corporation. As most people know, Walt was an avid train buff, and when he built Disneyland, he wanted complete control over the steam trains, so that he could take them out when ever he wanted. Thus, he placed the steam trains, and then later the monorails under the ownership of Retlaw and leased them back to the park. In 1982, the family decided to sell the assets of Retlaw, including the rights to Walt's likeness and name to the Disney Company, and a holding company, Walt Disney Incorporated was formed. Eventually, the steam trains and monorails became "officially" Disneyland's property.
Retlaw was not a Disney subsidiary, which was disbanded after Walt's death. It was a personal company of Walt Disney's, unaffiliated with Walt Disney Productions (aka The Walt Disney Company). Founded in 1953, it licensed the rights to Walt Disney's name and likeness, and owned the steam train and monorail operations at Disneyland. Walt Disney Productions purchased the name, likeness, and the train/monorail operations from Retlaw in the early 1980's. Retlaw still continues to thrive, as the owner of radio and television stations, among other properties.
- "Disney" is actually a changed version of Walt's family's original name. The original name was D'Isigny. It was around the year 1044. Originally from France, Isigny-Sur-Mer was the area that Walt's relatives came from. Can you imagine planning a trip to D'Isignyland?
- When Walt was younger he was hired to work at the Kansas City Star newspaper. He was later fired from the paper because of lack of creativity. Years later The Disney Company bought ABC which owned The Kansas City Star. How strange that he was fired because he was not creative enough and years later you own them because of your creativness.
- According to All About Community Colleges, Walt Disney attended Metropolitan Junior College, MO. For other famous people who attended community colleges, see the alumni page.
- Walt Disney produced a series of cartoons entitled "Alice in Cartoonland", which combined live action and animation. These cartoons were long before Mickey.
- In 1945 Walt Disney designed the insignia for Fighter Squadron VF-84 while the squad was getting ready for the attack on Japan. See the book.
- My grandmother served as a Women's Air Force Service Pilot (WASP) in WWII, and she has many items bearing the picture of "Fifinella", a cartoon character created by Disney. My grandmother told me she was a lucky charm of sorts for the women pilots.
Mounted on the roof of the administration building at Avenger Field in 1943 was a 10-foot-high sign with a giant portrait of Fifinella, the Walt Disney gremlin who served as mascot to the Women's Airforce Service Pilots.
- While stationed at the US Navy submarine base in New London, CT, a fellow sailor who worked at the USS Nautilus museum relayed an interesting piece of information to me. There had been some recent thefts at the museum. Some older submarine insignias that were made of gold were removed along with other stuff. I commented that they must have been worth a lot of money due to gold and their age. The other sailor informed me that the thieves had no idea what they had passed up though. In one of the offices (The head honcho's, I believe) is an original drawing of the design for the insignia of the USS Nautilus. It shows a submarine reared up on its tail with a nuclear symbol and some other navy stuff. The kicker of it all is that it was designed by and signed by Walt Disney himself!!!
- How far apart are the trash cans? Walt Disney ate a hot dog in Disneyland and counted how many steps it took to finish it. It took him 17 steps (I think), which is the spacing used in every Disney park today.
While on a behind the scenes tour, I found out that the trash cans are no more than 25 paces apart
They average 20 paces
- There are many hidden Mickey's if you go to Walt Disney's former home in Beverly Hills. The iron gate to the mansion seems to have a curly design in the ironwork...but tilt your head slightly and notice that these curls are Mickey's head.
- As I heard from a Cast Member, Goofy was Walt's favorite character.
- Disney in the late 60's put out some educational films. I only know about two of them. One was describing a female's monthly cycle. The other was about syphillis, and gonorrhea. The one about syphillis and gonarrhea had both "VDs" grouped together like an army unit. They had oval bodies with berets on. Syphillis were red and they wore red berets and had an S somewhere on them. Gonorrhea were green and they wore green berets, they had a G somewhere on them too.
About Disney producing the female reproduction film. Its totally true. When they rounded us (the girls) up in fifth grade, they showed us a film, and it was DISNEY!! It was old, too. I would say 60's or 70's. It kind of disturbed me that Disney was teaching me about my monthly cycle.
Disney did produce educational films for sex ed classes, but not just for the women. In fifth grade we got to see two films, one geared toward female growth and development, one geared toward males. Both of these were produced by Disney.
Story of Menstruation, The Educational film, made for International Cellucotton Co.; delivered on October 18, 1946. Through animation and diagrams, the film discusses the female reproductive organs and follows development from babyhood to motherhood. A popular Disney film for girls in school for several decades.
- Walt Disney was so passionate about trains that he built a 1/8-scale railroad running through his backyard and the rose gardens of his Holmby Hills home, much to his wife's dismay. Because of his love of trains, Walt Disney built an eighth scale railroad at his home. He took the Carolwood Pacific name from the street the house was located on, Carolwood Drive. This authentic steam railroad, which Walt himself helped to build, served as the inspiration for the larger steam trains at Disneyland. The engine that Walt built was No. 173 Lilly Belle. This 4-4-0 engine was named after his wife, Lillian. It is now on display, along with the caboose, inside Disneyland's Main Street Station. For more information on the Carolwood Pacific,
- Many, such as myself, have wondered about the symbol on Walt Disney's tie shown during the Rocket Rods queue narration. It also appears on the bronze statue of Disney in the center of Disneyland. It looks like an Asian language character, but I recently found out that it is actually a compound of the letters S T R, which apparently stands for Disney's "Smoke Tree Ranch."
From Disney A to Z (by Dave Smith): Smoke Tree Ranch. Walt Disney had a vacation home at this ranch, located in Palm Springs, California, and he often wore a necktie emblazoned with a stylized STR emblem.
Walt Disney's tiepin is in the shape of the letters "STR," which stand for "Smoke Tree Ranch," a favorite vacation destination of his. He specifically asked that the tiepin be part of the statue in the hub of Main Street when it was commissioned.
There is a recreation center there named Disney Hall. When I was young, they used to show Disney films to the guests. There are also pictures of Disney in the main ranch house where guests dine.
The symbol you see on Walt Disney's tie-tack in the Rocket Rods queue Circlevision presentation is actually the initials of his ranch...the Smoke Tree Ranch.
For More Fun Facts: