This year, Walt Disney would have celebrated his 110th birthday, and the mark he left on the world for all of us will always be evident.
We grew up with Disney in the theaters, on television, and at his theme parks in California and Florida. (I’d mention in France too, although they didn’t seem to appreciate the wonder of Disney over there).
For the L.A. Times, Jon Favreau, director of Elf, Zathura, Iron Man and Cowboys and Aliens, wrote an appreciation of Disney because he’s currently working on The Magic Kingdom, a movie that takes place in Disney’s wonderland, the latest amusement park adaptation coming to a theater near you.
Michael Chabon, author of The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, The Wonder Boys, who also co-wrote Spider-Man 2, is writing the Magic Kingdom screenplay.
As a young kid, Favreau didn’t know Disney was an actual guy because his name has always been synonymous with family entertainment and wonder everywhere a young kid looked, whether it was on TV, in the movies,or at his famous magic kingdom in Anaheim.
“As childhood slipped away, I clung to it through the discovery of Walt’s entire catalog of animated content, Favreau writes, and of course, many of us revist our childhoods through the magic of Disney to this day. “The Wonderful World of Disney has emerged as a de facto least common denominator of shared cultural archetypes,” Favreau continues.
As Favreau also points out, “At his heart, Walt Disney was a maverick,” and he took big risks in building his empire. (As I’ve often pointed out in a Hollywood more risk adverse than ever, you can’t be a player if you don’t roll the dice).
“Walt flirted with bankruptcy his whole life,” Favreau writes.
“He took every success and let it ride. And the secret sauce was always technology. We think of Steamboat Willie as an old time black-and-white cartoon but, at the time, it was bleeding-edge tech. It was the first cartoon to marry music to picture, creating perfectly choreographed movement.”
More big risks followed, including the first feature length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Fantasia, the theme park, and more. ”Disneyland was Walt’s third act,” Favreau continues. “It was a success on every level and continues to be.”
Clearly, the greatest testament to Disney’s achievements is how they still speak to us as kids, and the kid in us, for generation after generation.