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Walt Disney

by Ben from Granite Bay

Imagine being sixteen years old and wanting to serve your country in the most dangerous war the world had ever seen. This is what my hero did. At age sixteen, he applied to join the U.S. Army so he could fight in World War One. Due to his age, the Army denied his application. Determined to serve his country, he applied to work for the Red Cross. The Red Cross hired him to drive an ambulance for wounded soldiers in France. Surprisingly, this man did not become famous for his service to his country, yet the determination in this young man proved vital to his future, making him one of the most successful and famous people in American history, and my hero, Walt Disney.

Young Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse (edublogs.org (unknown) ())
Young Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse (edublogs.org (unknown) ())

Serving his country was just one of Walt Disney's many achievements in his early life. Two common factors that can be seen throughout Walt's accomplishments in his early years are creativity and determination. Walt Disney began his life in Chicago, Illinois on December 5, 1901 to parents Elias and Flora Disney. When Walt was four years old, he and his family moved to a farm in Marceline, Missouri. In order to get to their new home in Missouri, Walt, his three brothers, one sister, and mother took a train. This train ride was the begining of Walt Disney's love of trains and would lead to many creative later life achievements. Another way that creativity came into play during Walt Disney's early years was with his artistic ability. Walt often became bored sitting around the family farm, so he taught himself how to draw and paint in order to keep entertained. He loved painting so much that he created a master piece on the outside wall of the family house. Little did he know, the paint he used was actually tar that his father needed to use for work around the yard. Later, when Walt returned from working in France for the Red Cross, he had a series of failures in the businesses of advertising and movie animation, mostly because he was not good at managing his money. Determined to be successful, Walt Disney traveled to Hollywood by train, to try his luck in the business world again. Once in southern California, Walt had several more failures, but on the positive side, he married Lillian Bounds. On a train trip from New York to California, Walt showed his wife his newest sketch of a character that he called, Mortimer Mouse. Lillian loved the drawing but said the mouse needed a more likeable name. She suggested the name Mickey. Through his determination, the creation of Mickey Mouse was the turning point of Walt Disney's future success.

Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie (moma.org (Walt Disney and his animation company.))
Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie (moma.org (Walt Disney and his animation company.))

"All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." This is a quote from Walt Disney that expresses how his life changed in his later years after he created Mickey Mouse. Along with creativity and determination, innovation was a third major trait of Walt Disney clearly seen in his latter years. Innovation is another reason why Walt Disney is my hero. For example, when Walt arrived back in California, he began to create new short animated movies starring Mickey Mouse. Nobody wanted to distribute his first two films, so Walt tried again with the cartoon, "Steamboat Willie". To impress audiences and distributors, Walt used his creativity and determination to make "Steamboat Willie" the first Disney film with sound. Mr. Disney went to great lengths to make this possible, and because of his hard work, "Steamboat Willie" was a huge success! Surprisingly, following "Steamboat Willie", Mickey Mouse's popularity increased. In 1938, Walter Elias Disney put his determination, creativity, and innovation to good use to create his first full length animated movie: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". When the public learned of Disney's idea they were certain that this attempt at success would end in failure and cause him to close yet another studio. To their surprise, the movie was another hit and, at its initial release, took in the equivalent of $132,085,110.00 in today's money.

Early map of Disneyland (www.disneyhistoryinstitute.com ())
Early map of Disneyland (www.disneyhistoryinstitute.com ())

Fourteen years and several movies later, Walt Disney made an announcement that would change his life and the world forever. This decision put Walter's innovation, creativity, and determination into overdrive until the day he died. What he announced would become the most recognizable Disney icon. Walt was going to build an amusement park, Disneyland! Mr. Disney's actions during this period of time greatly inspire me because he showed true innovation, creativity, and determination to create something unique that makes people all over the world happy. Disney's unprecedented idea was to create a theme park for everyone to enjoy for longer than a half a day. Visitors to the theme park would be able to visit some of their favorite characters from Disney movies. To accomplish this goal, Mr. Disney used his innovative ideas by creating an amusement park like a wagon wheel, Sleeping Beauty's Castle would be the central hub and lands of different themes would branch away from the castle such as Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland. This ingenious idea is still used today at many amusement parks internationally. One of Disneyland's most famous rides is Pirates of the Caribbean. Originally, this attraction was supposed to be a walk-through wax museum. However, Mr. Disney used his innovation and creativity to turn this attraction into a boat ride instead of a walk through attraction. Creativity came into play when Walt Disney created life like animatronics for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This type of advanced technology had never been seen before. Matterhorn Mountain is another ride that exhibits Walt Disney's creativity. The Matterhorn was the first roller coaster ever, to allow more than one train on the track at the same time. This was another creative way to make Disneyland unique. "Herbie, I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train." This is a quote from Walt Disney talking to one of his employees about how creative he wanted Disneyland to be. Sure enough, on Disneyland's opening day, the Disneyland Railroad carried passengers round trip around the amusement park. The train was one of kind because it was the first to make different stops at various lands in the theme park. Although Disney had several innovative and creative ideas, his determination came into play, once again, on opening day of Disneyland. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland lowered its drawbridge to the public and opened. The day was a complete disaster. Some of the cement sidewalks were not yet dry, there was horrible traffic on the road leading to Disneyland, the drinking fountains were not functional, and only half the rides were open, yet Walt's determination prevailed. From that day forward, he continued to improve upon his mistakes and expand the park. Word spread quickly about the improvements Walt made to Disneyland and people began to come back to the park. Today, approximately fifteen million people visit Disneyland each year, according to www.golosangeles.about.com.

Through all of Disney's life experiences, I found that it is important to never give up and to do what is important to you as a person. The actions of Mr. Disney have inspired me in many ways. First, I strive to make movies in my academic life that will entertain people. Second, I use determination to resolve problems that arise on school projects. Next, I know that it is important to never give up because eventually something good will come of it. Finally, I know it is important to make people happy, so I try to do this daily, by helping others, entertaining them with my movies, and listen to them attentively. Walter Elias Disney fits my definition of a hero because through innovation, creativity, and success he overcame all of his failures to create his ultimate goal. He made the "Happiest Place on Earth" for everyone to enjoy.

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do." This is a quote by Walt Disney that greatly expresses his life. When Walt was sixteen he found something interesting to do by serving his country in time of war. At the age of fifty-three, Walt Disney again found something fascinating to do by serving his country in a different way, he created "The Happiest Place on Earth" where people of all ages could come to enjoy themselves for longer than one day. Walter showed a lot of curiosity throughout his life time which developed his innovation, creativity, and determination. These three characteristics define Walt Disney as a hero and they are the reason his name is one of the most famous and successful in American history.

Page created on 11/8/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 11/8/2012 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Just Disney - provides information about Walt Disney
Disneyland - provides a map of Disneyland