Saturday, March 18, 2017

Disney's Innovation

With Nancy J. Farrier

I am fascinated by people who have ideas and carry them out, no matter the scope of those dreams. One such visionary we are all familiar with was Walt Disney. We see the reality of those seeds of ideas he had as a young man. His dream to bring joy and fun to families throughout the world must have grown beyond what he could have imagined.

Walt Disney, born in 1901 in Hermosa, Illinois, co-founded Walt Disney Productions with his brother Roy. Before he began his career in movie production, cartooning and theme parks, Walt wanted to join the Army. He dropped out of school to go and fight, but was underage. He joined the Red Cross and drove an ambulance in France for a year before returning to the country.

Walt began his career by drawing cartoons. When his earliest productions rights to cartoon shorts were stolen, Walt produced a new series of film shorts based on a mouse character named Mickey. His third cartoon, Steamboat Willie, became a huge hit. Walt Disney did the voice of Mickey in that short.

Disney went on to create more cartoons, but had a vision of a fun place for families to spend time and enjoy an entertaining time together. Disneyland is the culmination of that dream. Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955. Actor Ronald Reagan presided over the activities. The park attendance increased rapidly, bringing in tourists from all over the world. I’d like to look at some of the original entertainments the park offered, along with pictures of the posters Disney designed.

Main Street, U.S.A. - Walt’s idea for the Main Street at the front of the part was to relive a typical turn of the century street. He wanted Main Street to be attractive to visitors, but to also point to the rest of the park.

Frontierland – This park section would remind Americans of their heritage and the pioneering spirit that built our country. Walt wanted families to feel like they had lived during the pioneer days.

Adventureland – This section of the park was designed to mimic a jungle adventure. Based on the remote jungles of Asia and Africa, visitors would experience dangers and excitements as they explored the tropics.

Fantasyland – Walt Disney loved to dream. In this part of the park, he wanted to spark imaginations of the young people who visited. He wanted to bring classic stories such as Peter Pan to life and encourage others to participate in the stories.

Tomorrowland – Walt Disney said, “The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.” Although Disney admitted that as soon as attractions were added to Tomorrowland, they were outdated, he still wanted to encourage looking toward the future and what that might bring.

Much of what Walt Disney dreamed was innovative and new. He introduced many aspects of marketing that are still in use today. What is your favorite memory of Walt Disney? Did you have a particular cartoon you loved? What about a poster that you remember? Have you ever visited a Disney theme park? I would love to hear from you.

Nancy J Farrier is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children and two grandsons. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:


  1. Love the post,Nancy! Walt Disney was an amazing visionary and what talent he had. I was treated to Disneyland for my 50th birthday. It was great! While there, we kept wondering what it might look like at Christmas, so you guessed it, we went back at Christmas and had a ball. It is definitely the happiest place on earth. Young and old alike can have a great time there.

    1. How fun, Melanie. There is so much to see and experience there. I'm glad you got to go back for Christmas.

  2. Thank you for sharing the tidbits about Walt Disney. He changed America with his visionary dreams and the theme parks for families and individuals to visit. There's something for everyone.

    1. I agree, Marilyn. He was a visionary and did change America.

  3. Hi Nancy,

    What an interesting post! I remember watching the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights with my brothers and parents growing up. Last fall I went to Disneyworld and went on four behind-the-scenes tours, it was all fascinating! I learned a lot, and got a new appreciation for all that Walt did.

    1. Linda, I've never gone on a behind the scenes tour. That sounds fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I remember Disney movies from when I was a child. Bambi, Dumbo, Snow White were so special to me in the early 40's and during WWII when the world was in a turmoil. We watched the Disney show with Annette Funicello and all the others and sang the songs and I think my dad wanted to adopt Annette.

    We didn't make it to Disney World until 1989 when the kids gave us the trip for my birthday and father's day. We had a good time and I loved watching the children. Our own boys have taken their families numerous time, but it's a little too expensive for us now. I was like a kid all over again and even ran after Mickey and Minnie to have my picture taken with them. Thanks for bringing back such good memories of a man who made the world a happier place for lots of children during WWII and even today.