Walt Disney: The Man Who Made Dreams Come True

by Madeline So from San Diego, California in United States

123477A portrait of Walter Elias Disney.www.businessinsider.comA true hero is one that strikes inspiration in the hearts of others. They possess traits that the majority of today’s population struggles with or lacks. Heroes have the ability to do what others wouldn't dare think about. More so, when they want something done, they do it to the fullest of their power, never ceasing until their task is complete. But hero or not, everyone eventually faces the same end: death. However, there is but one discrepancy between heroes and the average citizen: heroes live on after death; the feats they’ve accomplished and the things they’ve done will continue to impact the world for generations to come. One person whose story lives on today is Walter Elias Disney, better known as Walt Disney. He is the father of animations and the initiator of the famous Disney theme parks that everyone adores. Although many know of his works, only a meager population know of his life before fame. Walt Disney was born on December 5th, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. One might assume that his childhood was enjoyable due to the creativity he showed in his adult years, but his childhood was far from pleasant. His father would beat him, and his only comforts would be his older brother Roy and drawing. Drawing was Disney’s escape from reality. It was a world where he could depart from his difficult childhood. As a result, Disney sketched a lot, and he sold his pictures to neighbors. During Disney’s teenage years, he attended McKinley High School. At night, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago ( When Walt Disney entered adulthood, he and his brother, along with his colleague Ub Iwerks, decided to start a company for his animations. Time after time they failed, but Roy would always encourage Walt to continue. This process of failing finally led them to success. In his company, Disney created various different animations, winning him a plethora of awards. He received four Academy Awards and an Oscar in 1939, presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1965, and much more (Baughman). Far too soon after Disney reached his prime, he faced the tragic event that all mortals face--death. Due to the stresses of owning a company, Disney smoked three packs of cigarettes a day (Cawley). Therefore, he developed lung cancer, which unfortunately led to the death of one of the most influential people in history. Even though Disney himself isn’t able to teach valuable lessons today, his life story and legacy says all. A hero inspires others with their bravery and tenacity, which helps them conquer toils. A hero is a creator and a leader, but not a follower. Rather than waiting for things to begin, they lead the change for others to follow. It was these traits that helped Disney throughout his life, and it was these traits that allowed him to succeed. Walt Disney revolutionized the entertainment industry and inspires the world with the determination and courage he's shown throughout his career, thus establishing him as a hero.

123712Walt Disney drawing Mickey Mouse.www.cnbc.comDetermination assists people through their hardest times, especially when one is trying to triumph at their wishes. Disney shows fierce determination through his ability to get back up after struggles knock him down. One of Disney’s conflicts was when he created the character Oswald the Rabbit, which was short-lived due to the acts of two of Disney’s coworkers: “Disney discovered that Winkler and her husband, Charles Mintz, had stolen the rights to Oswald...Right away the Disney brothers, their wives and Iwerks produced three cartoons featuring a new character Walt had been developing called Mickey Mouse” ( Walt Disney created his first successful character, but it was quickly stolen by two of his coworkers, Winkler and Charles. Despite this betrayal, Disney did not let this stop him from creating new characters, hence the initiation of Mickey Mouse. He persisted on to make Mickey Mouse instead of letting the loss of Oswald the Rabbit stop him from making characters, showing determination. Instead of letting his struggles drag him down, he used them to boost him up to success. Due to a hero’s fierce determination, they have the ability to improvise when obstructed by an obstacle. Disney improvised so that he could go on with his work and fulfill his dream. After Disney made various different characters, he went further with his career by creating animations. One of his riskiest animations was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While on this journey, it becomes apparent that he encountered many difficulties. But nevertheless, Disney still succeeded in the end: “It...cost almost $1.5 million...but on December 21, 1937, all the doubters and disbelievers had to admit that they were wrong. The project that competitors had labeled ‘Disney's Folly’ was an overnight smash hit...Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the very first full-length animated movie ever made” (Denenberg & Roscoe). Although many people doubted Disney and the animation was expensive to make, he was never discouraged. By overlooking the fact that many people thought Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would be his “folly” and pursuing his dream, Disney proved to the world that anything is possible. Along with facing harsh words, he spent a lot of money on this project, displaying his determination even more because he wouldn’t let money stop him from making the first full-length animation for all to enjoy. He created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which stands to prove how his persistence prevented anyone and anything from trying to put him off track. Disney believed in himself and didn’t care what others said because he was determined to create this animation, and nothing could stop him. After Disney created various animations, he thought of creating his own amusement park, but the hurdles he had to jump over were more difficult that one may think: “Disney...had difficulty getting financing for the project. Finally, in the early 1950s, he mortgaged his life insurance, stock holdings, house and furniture to purchase an orange grove near Anaheim, California, and finance the construction of a 185-acre amusement park” ( This demonstrates Disney’s determination with his project because he didn’t let his scarce fundings deter him from carrying on. People who try to accomplish their dreams would back off on their project if they knew it cost so much, but Walt Disney thought otherwise. He was willing to sacrifice his possessions to create a place where everyone can feel happy. This strong determination is what makes Walt Disney a worthy hero.

123448Disney with the seven dwarfs from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."www.wvxu.orgEveryone has the ability to dream, but many don’t have the courage to follow them through. Walt Disney isn’t a person of little courage, for he shows fearlessness when encountering complications, and exhibits bravery when beginning a dream. One of Disney's difficulties took place in his childhood: “Walt Disney's childhood was anything but idyllic. His father was a strict disciplinarian who thought nothing of taking a switch to Walt and his brother Roy to administer "corrective" beatings that became a part of their daily routine. Young Walt found an escape from his father's brutality through drawing” ( Walt Disney faced constant abuse from his father, but instead of cowering over unhappily, he drew pictures to cheer himself up again. He had the courage to face this difficulty and overcome it, instead of lingering on it while retaining feelings of depression. When faced with this type of childhood, most people would be unable to find happiness and they would remain stuck at the bottom of a pit of darkness. Disney’s harsh childhood shows his courage because he didn’t allow his abusive father’s actions stop him from fulfilling his dreams. This was his first step of bravery, leading to a rough but prosperous road ahead of him. One of the first plights that Disney had to face as an adult was the downfall of his own company: “In May 1922 he started his own company, Laugh-O-Grams. The laughs were short-lived as the company quickly ran into financial difficulties...Emboldened by the spirit of youth, he left for Hollywood armed only with his drawing equipment, an idea for a cartoon, and the suit on his back” (Bloomsbury Business Library). Disney’s first company collapsed quickly after it opened, but he didn’t wait around after it closed. Instead, he went straight to Hollywood. Courage is shown here because he had the strength to face a hardship feared by many, the loss of a company. He demonstrated to the world that when one is faced with a struggle, they should accept it and progress with life. After Disney’s small company collapsed, one would assume that he would’ve given up, or at least spent a few months getting situated. But due to Disney’s courage, he faced the fact that his company was gone, and moved on. Walt Disney confronted and fought problems many people would cower from, displaying his constant bravery. Instead of going to a small city to try and work his way up, he went straight to Hollywood. This is a true mark of courage because he believed in himself and faced one of the greatest entertainment industries when he was still a nobody. After Walt Disney succeeded with Snow White and Mickey Mouse, he moved on to bigger and more ambitious projects, one of them being Disneyland. But once again people all around him were discouraging him, telling him that it would fail. Even Roy told him that Disneyland was too big of an idea. But Walt Disney wanted the park to be made, wanting it to be one-of-a-kind. After years of hard work, he managed to get enough funds to build Disneyland: “In the summer of 1954, the first orange trees were torn out of the ground in Anaheim, and work began on the building of Disneyland” (Mosley 233). Disney had an idea to make a park unlike others. In the end, he managed to build Disneyland, and it is still growing today. However, the journey was difficult. Disney faced harsh words of doubtfulness from many people, even his close brother Roy. The world today takes the words of others to heart, making it easy for one to be influenced. However, society takes the speech of close ones more seriously. Walt Disney’s brother, the person who’s been with him through the ups and downs, told him that Disneyland wasn’t possible. But Disney wouldn’t let himself be influenced by his brother's discouraging words, and continued on to collect funds. Despite the bitter words from people around Disney, it took more courage for him to embark on this journey to make Disneyland because of the fact that many things could go wrong. But he believed in Disneyland, so he took a chance and tried to make it a reality. Disney not only had the courage to start his dream, he had the courage to finish it despite the difficulties he came across. Disney’s courage is a strong quality of a hero because it not only teaches people to believe in themselves, it teaches people to make a mark of bravery and begin a dream.

123714Walt Disney giving his speech on the opening day of Disneyland.www.abc7news.comWhen one enters into the depths of Walt Disney’s life, they can see him overcome hardships from when he was a boy to his day of death. Due to his ability to defeat obstacles over and over again, one can see that he has courage and determination, two traits that depict him as a hero because they inspire people to live similarly. Disney’s courage empowered him to start his dreams, and his determination pushed him to never give up on them. Within Disney’s actions, creations, and words are messages that can be used for inspiration and can be used to learn a lesson. As he once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it” ( Disney’s words inspire people today to proceed with their dreams and accomplish them. He informs people that any dream is possible if one is able to picture it. His life is a prime example of how all goals can be achieved, even if the journey to achieving them is difficult. Disney ignored the words of doubters, he moved on from his abusive childhood, and he created the well-known character named Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse teaches kids valuable lessons that they use later in their lives, such as friendship and patience. Similarly, Mickey’s creator, Walt Disney, taught everyone the significant lesson of how dreams can be satisfied. The resilience Disney has shown in all of his living years inspires those who are encountering problems to get back up and move on. He motivates others to possess determination and courage, helping them achieve their desires. Walt Disney touched and will continue to touch the hearts of millions, as he is a man who inspired the world to make their ambitions into existences rather than leaving them as dreams.

Works Cited

Biography. “Walt Disney.”, A&E Networks Television, 7 Aug. 2017,


Cawley. "The 50 Most Famous People of the Century." Biography, vol. 3, no. 12, Dec. 1999, p. 74. EBSCOhost,


Denenberg, Dennis and Lorraine Roscoe. "Walt Disney." 50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet, Jan. 2002, p. 38. EBSCOhost,


Entrepreneur. “Walter Elias Disney.” Entrepreneur, 8 Oct. 2008,


Mosley, Leonard. Disney's World: A Biography. Scarborough House, 1990.


"Walt Disney." American Decades, edited by Judith S. Baughman, et al., Gale, 1998. Biography in Context, Accessed 22 Mar. 2018.


"Walter Elias Disney." Bloomsbury Business Library - Business Thinkers & Management Giants, Jan. 2007, p. 7. EBSCOhost,

Page created on 4/18/2018 6:07:16 PM

Last edited 2/19/2019 5:58:42 PM

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Related Links

Walt Disney's Opening Day Dedication Speech at Disneyland 1955 - This link presents a video of Walt Disney giving his speech on the opening day of Disneyland.
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