Walt Disney and his brother Roy set up Disney Brothers Studio in Hollywood, California in 1923. Plane Crazy, directed by Walt Disney, was the first cartoon to come out of Disney studios in 1928.
In 1937, the studio produced its first animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The company went public in 1940 and later went on to produce other classic animaation films such as Pinocchio and Fantasia. In 1955, the Disney Land Theme Park was opened. Disney World opened in Florida in 1971.
The Bass family of Texas, in alliance with Roy Disney, acquired a controlling stake in the company in 1984. During the 1980s, the company launched the Disney Channel and established theme park in Tokyo in 1984. In 1985, the company established Disney MGM studio. A year later, the business changed its name to The Walt Disney Company.
In the early 1990s, the company had a number of successes with animated films such as The Lion King. In 1992, the company continued its international expansion by opening Disneyland Paris. In 1996, the company bought Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion which included 10 TV stations, 21 radio stations, seven daily newspapers, and ownership positions in the cable networks A&E, Lifetime, History Channel and the powerhouse sports network, ESPN, and in 1998, it purchased web services from Starwave, a Seattle based software company. It also acquired 43% of internet search engine Infoseek for $70 million and launched the GO network, in 1999. The company then bought the remaining 57% of infoseek and formed GO.com, a web portal, which eventually became Walt Disney Internet Group.
In the early 2001, the company expanded its theme parks in Anaheim, the US and restructured its internet business.Walt Disney re-entered into a multi-year agreement with Eastman Kodak to make Kodak the exclusive imaging supplier of film and related products at Disney theme parks and resorts in the US and France as well as for the Disney Cruise Line in 2002. In the same year, Walt Disney, Bank One and Visa announced two multi-year, strategic alliances that created Disney-branded Visa card with Disney rewards, as well as provided Visa with joint marketing opportunities across Disney’s various business units.
Disney entered into a ten year strategic alliance with HP to develop new technologies and enhanced entertainment experiences in 2003. In the following year, Walt Disney ended the partnership with Pixar after failing to come to an agreement on how to split future revenues. Comcast announced plans to acquire Walt Disney in a deal worth around $66 billion in the same year. Its offer for Walt Disney was later turned down. At the end of 2004, The Children’s Place Retail Stores and Walt Disney entered into an agreement for The Children’s Place to acquire and operate the Disney Store retail chain in North America, which included 313 stores.
Mr. Henry Samueli and his wife, Orange County entrepreneurs and philanthropists, in 2005 purchased the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the National Hockey League Club based in Orange County, California from the Walt Disney. During the mid of 2005, the Monday Night Football moved to ESPN under an eight-year agreement with the National Football League. In the same year, Buena Vista Games (BVG), the interactive entertainment arm of Walt Disney, strengthened game development capabilities through the acquisition of Salt Lake City-based video game developer, Avalanche Software, and established a start-up development studio in Vancouver, Canada. Also in 2005, Walt Disney’s internet group acquired Minds Eye, one of the leading interactive TV games developers. The company and Verizon agreed for a long term programming contract, Disney and ESPN networks and services.
Walt Disney and Citadel Broadcasting Corporation combined ABC Radio, which included 22 radio stations and the ABC Radio Networks, with Citadel Broadcasting in 2006. In the same year 2006, the company acquired computer animation company Pixar. The company launched Disney Mobile www.disneymobile.com in the US with innovative features that, for the first time, allowed parents to directly manage their family’s wireless experience, during the year. Walt Disney acquired Hungama TV, a leading Indian children’s television channel, and also acquired an equity interest in media company, UTV Software Communications.Wenner Media acquired US Weekly from Disney in the same year.
Later in 2006, Comcast and Walt Disney entered into a long-term comprehensive distribution agreement that extended their relationship into the next decade for the 10 ABC-owned broadcast television stations and Disney’s leading networks and services included: Disney Channel, ABC Family, Toon Disney, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN HD and increased carriage of SOAPnet. In addition, Comcast launched ESPN Deportes, a stand-alone Spanish-language sports network, and the companies formalized their ESPN2 HD agreement. Comcast also acquired Walt Disney’s stake in E! Networks in two tranches. At the end of 2006, ESPN acquired NASN, the European channel dedicated to North American sports, from Setanta Sport Holdings and Benchmark Capital Europe. ESPN was 80% owned by ABC, an indirect subsidiary of Walt Disney.
In the early 2007, the Disney-ABC Television Group renamed its in-house production company, Touchstone Television, as the ABC Television Studio. The company announced its plans to expand cruise business by adding two new ocean liners in February 2007, which is scheduled to be launched in 2011 and 2012. In March 2007, the company started work on The Frog Princess an animated fairy tale and intends to release it in 2009. The company spun-off its wholly owned subsidiary, ABC Radio Holdings and subsequently merged with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Citadel, in June 2007. In the same month, the company announced an integrated global television distribution unit.
In June 2007, the company acquired Club Penguin, one of the fastest-growing online virtual worlds for kids. The addition of Club Penguin to Disney’s existing online assets would further strengthen the company’s objective of establishing clear leadership in online virtual worlds for kids and families. At the end of the year, the company’s international TV licensing arm, Disney-ABC International Television, entered a multi-year partnership with Russian state broadcaster Channel One.
Disney’s subsidiary The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) increased its strategic investment in UTV, in February 2008. In the following month, the company entered in advanced discussions with The Children’s Place Retail Stores, to explore terms under which Disney might acquire ownership of a portion of the Disney Store chain in North America.
In April 2008, the company unveiled a diverse and ambitious slate of 10 new animated feature films from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios to be released through the year 2012. In the same month, The Walt Disney Studios announced the debut of ‘Earth’, the first feature-length nature documentary from its new production banner, Disneynature. The company launched Disney En Familia, a new Spanish-language magazine in May 2008.