The Walt Disney Company is the most magical business on earth.

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When animator and fledgling business man Walt Disney first sketched out a character he called Mickey Mouse in 1929, no one would have guessed it was the start of the largest creative enterprise the world had every seen. But nearly a century later, the Disney legacy has grown to be a multi billion-dollar corporation with theme parks movies, merchandise, and a brand that’s entertained billions of people all around the world.

In this blog, we’ll explore the Disney financial empire, Disney World and Disney Land, and some fascinating Magic Kingdom trivia. 

You’ll definitely want to tune in for part 2, where we detail the life of Walt Disney, bizarre Disney facts too strange for fiction, and the controversial dark side of the Disney legacy.

The Disney financial empire.

The Walt Disney Company was founded in 1923 by Walt Disney and started its legacy of children’s characters.

Since then, it’s grown into a $155 billion company and one of the strongest global brands on Wall Street, trading as NYSE: DIS.

In 2014 – the last fiscal year – Disney consumer products alone generated $4 billion in revenue.

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Disney started their long line of mega-hit movies with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on December 21, 1937. The animated film premiered at the Carthay Theater in Los Angeles and went on to gross a jaw dropping $1.6 billion, adjusted for inflation. 

Pirates of the Caribbean was their first film to exceed $1 billion in global box office receipts, with $1.066 billion in 2006. 

Since then, they’ve had five more movies hit the mark: Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Frozen.

Disney acquired the famed animation studio Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006 and Marvel for $4 billion in 2009. They also bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, looking to cash in on Star Wars: Episode VII with an anticipated $2 billion gate when it’s released in late 2015.

The largest and most profitable segment of the modern day Disney empire, is Media Networks, which generated $21.2 billion in 2014.

Media Networks includes not only the Disney Channels but ABC Family, 80% of ESPN, 50% of A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime Movie Network, the Biography Channel, and three Lifetime channels.

Disney is such a strong and diverse financial empire with so many ongoing revenue streams that stockholders consistently receive around 20% ROI in the form of dividends and share repurchases.

Disney has increased the cost of daily admission to their theme parks every single year with three exceptions: 1976, 1977, and 1988. ’76 and ’77 were during the recession following the stock market crashes of ’73-4. 

Disney’s earnings have been just as consistent. Since 1991, their total annual revenue has decreased only two times; in 2002, a slight dip after the company slashed operating labor, and in 2009, a 4%drop citing the global downturn and Great Recession in the United States.

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Disney World and Disney Land.

Walt Disney got the inspiration to build the yet-unnamed Disney Land, a theme park based around Mickey Mouse and his characters after taking his daughters on a merry-go-round in L.A.’s Griffith Park.

He bought the 65-acre site near Anaheim, California in 1953.

Walt Disney purchased 48 square miles of swampland in 1965 in Florida in for $5 million – the future site of Disney World.

Over the decades, Disney World grew to four theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, as well as 800 campsites in Fort Wilderness, 18 resort hotels with 23,000 rooms, 3,000 vacation club units, and 568,000 square feet of conference meeting space. 

Disneyland now occupies 85 acres and the Magic Kingdom, 107 acres.

When it first opened, tickets for admission to Disney World was only $3.50.

The Magic Kingdom averaged about 10,000 visitors per day when it first opened in 1971. That grew steadily until nowadays, they see about 50,000 visitors per day.

Every year, Disney World guests consumer 10 million hamburgers, 7 million hot dogs, 9 million pounds of French fires, and 50 million Coca Colas. 

Disney World employs more than 62,000 people in Orlando, Florida, which makes it the largest single-site employer in the entire. U.S.

The theme park’s extensive transportation system makes it the third largest bus system in the whole state of Florida, with 290 buses running.

Incredibly, Walt Disney never owned Disneyland. He owned stock in the company and was the creative inspiration behind just about every Disney character and ride, but never owned a controlling share in the park.

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Magic Kingdom trivia.

The Beatles officially broke up in December of 1974 when John Lennon signed termination papers while vacationing at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort.

The Lost and Found at Disney parks is a thing to behold. In fact, an average of 210 pairs of sunglasses are turned in ever day. Since 1971, that adds up to 1.65 million pairs of lost sunglasses!

On three separate occasions a patron gave birth right there inside Disneyland.

When a park guest vomits, Disney employees officially call it a “Code v,” which is only marginally better than the former name, “Protein Spill.”

The Disney parks have only been closed three times since 1971; during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, after a 2002 power outage, and for only 30 minutes after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as the park was evacuated for safety reasons.

No matter where you stand in any Disney park, a trashcan is never more than 30 steps away.

The character Mickey Mouse’s original name was Mortimer Mouse and he spoke with a Brooklyn accent. But Disney’s wife thought the name sounded too pompous and the Brooklyn-born mouse wouldn’t appeal to a wide enough audience, so he took her advice and changed the name.

They don’t sell chewing gum at any Disney park or attraction for the same reason many airports don’t – too big of a gummy mess to clean up.

Disney’s logo – 3 circles silhouetting the head and ears of Mickey Mouse – is hidden throughout the parks. In fact, there are over 3,000 “Hidden Mickey’s” integrated into floor tiles, building elements, rock formations, table settings, and everywhere else you can imagine. There are even websites and smartphone apps dedicated to pointing them out.

Disney’s nightly fireworks show – Fantasmic – goes on for about 22 minutes and costs $75,000 every time! During the high season, they even put on two fireworks shows per night.

Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A, uses more than 100,000 light bulbs.

Walt Disney World’s costume department consists of over 1.2 million pieces of clothing and 3 costumers per cast member, making it the largest wardrobe department in the world.

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