Walt Disney's Entrepreneurial Journey


A person who habitually creates and innovates to build something of recognized value around perceived opportunities is an entrepreneur . One of the kinds is Walt Disney, the founder of Walt Disney Company. Most of us have heard the name many or at least once in our lifetime. It has also been an part of us, bringing the world of joy and entertainment to us whether it a Mickey Mouse Cartoon or Disneyland. It all started with one name Walter Elias Disney, in 1923 with many by his side catalyzing his journey to success.

He was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, well known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O. Disney, he was co-founder of Walt Disney Productions, which later became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation is now known as The Walt Disney Company annual revenue of approximately US$36 billion in the 2010 financial year .

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.Popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created some of the world's most well-known fictional characters including Mickey Mouse, for whom Disney himself provided the original voice.

During his lifetime he received four honorary Academy Awards and won 22 Academy Awards from a total of 59 nominations, including a record four in one year,giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual in history.Disney also won seven Emmy Awards and gave his name to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the U.

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S., as well as the international resorts Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.


Walt Disney was born in December 1901,Chicago IIlinois. His father moved from job to job and places. Walt developed interest in drawing in a farm where the family worked. He attended school and was an active participant to the school paper, drawings. Time to time Walt attended the Chicago Institute of Art, at night. He joined the Red Cross Ambulance. There also he showed creativity. Walt came back and joined Art Studio. Soon started business with a friend Ub Iwerks but it did not do very well. He moved to other city and learnt animation from his job and started Laugh-O-Gram Films. After a while the company went bankrupt and Walt moved to Hollywood.

There he started Disney Bros Studio with his brother Roy. The company started doing well but was cheated by his distributor, losing his staff and Oswald cartoon to him. On a train journey he thought of the legendary Mickey Mouse and Walt started journey to fame. Soon after that he launched the Silly Symphonies. Walt wanted to experiment with colours and redid a fill in beautiful Technicolor, Roy disagreed as it would be expensive and might not work. It won an academy award in 1932. Walt was certain to make the world’s first feature-length animated film "Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. Everyone disagreed but Walt continued and exceeded the budget, as he wanted everything perfect. This also won many awards.

The office moved Burbank with better facilities for the workers; they made films one after the other (Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, war movies). In between the union strike happened, which badly affected Walt. He went out of the country on a goodwill trip while Roy settled it meanwhile. But it was not the same with the staff.

He also tried his hand in live action ʻTrue life adventuresʼ and succeeded. Disneyland the first themed amusement park of the world opened in 1955, a risky move but its huge success and added millions to the company. He died of lung cancer in 1965.


1923 An aspiring cartoonist leaves for Hollywood.

1924 Partnered with older brother Roy, and the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios was officially born.

1928 First Mickey Mouse cartoon "Steamboat Willie" released on November 18, in New York.

1930 Mickey made his debut merchandising appearance on pencil tablets, books and comic strips

1936 Walt invents Multiplane Camera to improve the filming quality of his first picture film.

1937 First full-length animated film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was released..

1954 "Disneyland" anthology series premiered on network television. It remained onTV for 29 years.

1955 Opening of his fantastic theme park in Anaheim, California – Disneyland.

1966 Before his death Walt purchased 28,000 acres near Orlando, Florida, to build his dream world.


Entrepreneurs have many characteristics and personality and it differs from person to person. Although, need for achievement drives every entrepreneur to success.

Serial entrepreneur

I would describe Walt Disney as a Serial Entrepreneur, which mainly means on the success of one business moving to start another one, gaining rewards from establishing new businesses and not by long term management . Walt started with short animated cartoons, moving to long length feature films, soon also bought live action films to the firm. Disneyland started at total area of themed amusement park.

He planned to make the future city EPCOT but was fulfilled after his death; he also invested in education and television.Usually capital produced from the initial business works as source of funding for the new one. He run several firms simultaneously making him a portfolio entrepreneur and having ownership interest in many businesses. The learning from other firms lead to better experience and performance in the new one.The benefit of portfolio entrepreneur is that it divides risk in multiple businesses and economies of scope on the other hand the attention is divided into different firms leading to time allocation problem.

Innovation, Opportunity & Risk

Walt Disney did not invent animation, he learned the art and provided it to the world as entertainment like nobody else. It was his desire to innovate that kept Disney going and lead the way to future. He was the first to make the long length feature film, realizing that the competitors where coming up with stronger cartoons and he would have to do more than short films to get the market. When colors came in the industry, he was the first one to put it in production and tap the possibilities of television . Both Disneyland and EPCOT pushed the limitation of existing ideas, and created an opportunity. “I believe in being an innovator,” said Disney. “Tomorrow can be a wonderful age.” Innovation and Creativity are distinguishing points of an entrepreneur, if they donʼt do something new there would not be a change in the market or no reason to be there. Their task is more than doing something new but also creating a market and value for it Innovation is a continuous process, entrepreneurs always finding new ways of doing things no matter if resources are not available.

This is why when one project is achieved they look for a new one; it is habitual activity for entrepreneurs .Entrepreneurs are able to see or make opportunities that others overlook. It is one thing is to invent another is to seek an opportunity and turn it into reality. Once they have identified the opportunity they implement it with suitable innovation. Entrepreneurs are constantly seeking possibilities to do things better and different. With greater innovation comes higher risks, this is because it being done the first time and there is uncertainty of its success in future. Projects involve high investments and risk is the possibility to get less than expected or no returns.Entrepreneurs have the tendency to act differently, a will to innovate and take risk and be ahead of their competitors .

Disney was laughed on many times like his Disneyland project or the Snow White they were both breakthrough ideas and nobody had done it before, making others believe that they would work. But Disney had the courage to take the risk and follow his dream. “When youʼre curious, you find lots of interesting things to do,” Disney said. “And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage.”


Disney Park & Resorts is where dreams come true. It includes Disney Cruise line, vacation clubs and Adventure (5 resorts and 11 theme parks). They are all related to travel and enjoyment. Disney is a large multinational that can afford a big campaign.

Many aware of the theme parks but not the clubs and cruise line. To promote all it can use mass mediums launch advertisements on its own channels like ABC Television networks and Disney channel. ABC advertising could focus on the adults as it has news channel, daytime, entertainment talking about the cruise and clubs. Where as, Disney Channel advertise the theme parks of the kids. They can also create print ads in travel magazines and kids journals.

Disney also has a radio channel that can also be used to spread awareness. It can also use below the live promotion in Disney shops, which could have the pamphlets and posters. Malls can have Disney characters attracting people and spreading information.

Disney has a lot of own channels of communication that can be used to tap the attention of people effective and efficiently, in UK or worldwide.


Walt Disney is a legendary Entrepreneur of the 20th century. In his Hollywood career of 43 years he established himself as visionary, innovative, dedicated and courageous entrepreneur. He was an artist that turned his skills into a business. He did not learn the skills at school or college as he attended these for short period of time. He was passionate towards his work, read books and learnt from others. Walt did not belong to a rich background and he had to struggle to his way to top. His father did not support his ideas but his brother and mother motivated him. His initial business was not successful and many people deceived him but Walt never got defeated, he learnt from those failures and moved further to do something bigger and better.

He had a knack of creativity that started his career and it was his obsession to achieve more, which leads to his success. He spotted opportunity in thing, which others did not think of and innovated to create its value in consumers mind. He did not slow down even at 60s, it was his habit to keep doing something new. Not caring when people did not believe or laughed at him, Walt had faith in what he had decided and carried on to take the risk. This made him win a lot of awards and appreciation in the end. It was difficult to work with him, as he wanted things perfect, which often lead to exceeding budgets. He was not good in finance, so left that bit his brother and freed his imagination to what he loved. For Walt profit was a way to achieve bigger and more meaningful goals. (Linetsky, 2007) He was the man who brought entertainment closer to the people by following his dream and having the courage to achieve them.


Disney Dreamer, Walt Disney History, http://www.disneydreamer.com/Waltbio1.htm Dujowich, J.P.,2008, A theory of
serial entrepreneurship, www.mendeley.com Entrepreneur, 2008, Walter Elias Disney,
http://www.entrepreneur.com/growyourbusiness/radicalsandvisionaries/article1975 28.html
Evan Carmichael, 2009, Walt Disney Articles,
http://www.evancarmichael.com/Famous-Entrepreneurs/614/summary.php Gartner, W., 1985, A conceptual framework to describing the phenomenon of a new venture, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 10, No.4, pp. 696-706 Just Disney, 2003, Walt Disney, Biography,

http://www.justdisney.com/walt_disney/biography/long_bio.html) Linesky, B.L., 2007, Nine Principles of Walt Disney’s Success, http://www.tspgconsulting. com/


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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Walt Disney's Entrepreneurial Journey. (2016, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/walt-disney-essay

Walt Disney's Entrepreneurial Journey essay
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