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Success of the Walt Disney Company

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Most companies have a hard time getting started, the time it takes a company to ‘take off’ varies. One company that really snowballed once they saw that they could have success was the Walt Disney company. This company was founded by Walter Elias Disney. The history of Walt Disney is actually quite crazy, it was not as smooth as most people would assume. When Walt first started making animation films, he met a man named Ub Iwerks who was unbelievably talented and he contributed a lot to Walt’s success. Walt and Iwerks started a small studio by themselves in the year 1922. It all started with a second hand movie camera with which they made very short one to two minute animated advertisement films to give to movie theatres around the area. Along with this they did a series of animated cartoon sketches called Laugh-O-grams. With this they also started working on Alice in Cartoonland witch was said to be seven minutes and the film could have a mix of live action and animation. Unfortunately, some New York film distributor swindled Walt and Iwerks, and Disney was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1923. He moved to California to pursue his dream career as a cinematographer. Walt was very surprised at how well his Alice movie did. This gave Walt the Idea for him, Iwerks, and his brother Roy a lifelong business partner to reopen shop in Los Angeles, California.

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Upon arriving in Los Angeles in 1923, they started a small office occupied by Holly-Vermont Realty in Los Angeles. The rent was cheap here only costing around $10 a month, in this building Walt Disney and Roy started their first short films in hollywood and they were called ‘Alice Comedies’. After around 4 months the staff was growing too fast to stay in such a small building, therefore they had to move into the bigger facilities next door. On the building window read “Disney Bros. Studio”. However before all these mainstream characters we all know and love today there was a different character that sparked the idea of Mickey and his name was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Over the next decade and a half many changes were made in the studio.The famous Mickey Mouse was born in 1928 along with all the other main characters such as Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and the rest of the main characters. After making some short films with these characters Walt had an immaculate idea. He recognized how much potential adding sound in animated cartoon films as well as the demand that could bring in the marketplace. Disney quickly produced a Mickey Mouse cartoon equipped with voices and music. Walt titled this film Steamboat Willie and he put aside his other soundless Mickey Mouse projects. When Steamboat Willie finally aired in 1928 this was a sensational success and he got a great response from the film.

In 1933 Disney produced The Three Little Pigs. This film came out during the middle of the great depression and took the country by surprise. Its treatment of the fairy tale of the little pig who works hard and builds his house of brick against the huffing and puffing of a threatening wolf related the audience with the need for fortitude in the current economic atrocity. It was at this time when times were tough in the early 1930s that Walt fully endeared himself and his cartoons to people from all over the world, and he continued to profit despite the Depression. Later on, Disney Bros. studio released their first full length animated film in 1937 when they released “Snow White and The Seven Dwarves”. This film turned out to be a huge success around the world. Since the movie was such a success Walt realized that his audience grew to the point where he knew the old studio just wasn’t large enough for him to meet the needs of his audience. With the profits from his first big success he put a deposit on 51 acres of land to design a more modern studio that can specialize in making animated films. Walt was very involved with the construction of his studio, he designed absolutely everything in the building himself making sure everything would function the way he expected it to. The layout of the land was quite simple. They had the animation building in the very center, i would think this is because it is the main building and they would not want to chance running out of room for the most important building. Across the street from the Animation Building were the Inking, Painting, and the Camera buildings. Here all the work was finalized and photographed. They also had a sound studio that were used to implement dubbing and the rest of improvements that needed to be made to the sound. Something interesting that helped them continue work even in harsh weather conditions were that many of the buildings were linked together by an underground tunnel, so even in the bad weather, the process of making animated films was not disrupted. To enhance the campus-like setting, all of the utilities were placed underground which was an innovation for 1940.

Once 1940 hit this was a great year for the company. Disney set to develop a wide variety of full-length films, such as Pinocchio, Dumbo , and Bambi which released in the next few years. On the other hand 1941 wasn’t the best of years for Disney, they consider this year a major set back due to their top animators retired from the company.However they were able to overcome this year and continued with massive amounts of success. The Disney studio by that time was established as one of the bigger producers of entertainment.The Disney studio also began making full-length animation romances, such as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan as well as other low-budget films that were able to generate revenue. Later on in 1964 Disney released Marry Poppins and this film really secured the future success for the company as the film won worldwide popularity and is said to be the climax of Walt Disney’s producing career.

Apart from the booming film production, Walt disney had a plan for a major amusement park to go along with all of his film creations, and he was to call it Disneyland. Disneyland opened in Los Angeles in 1955 and much of Disney’s main marketing tool was to use nostalgia and attract the fans of his films to live in the films that he created in the past. His audience noticed sentiment and fantasy in the layout and development of the park. It soon became a hotspot for tourists that come from all over the world to enjoy yet another one of Walt’s creations . Disney planned for a second Disney park, Walt Disney World, and he wanted this near Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately he passed away while this park was under construction and the park later opened in 1971. From this year on the company skyrocketed and became one of the most successful brands in the entire world.

The company today has an unbelievable amount of different products and selling points. From the wide assortment of movies to the parks around the world there is no escaping the success. One of Disney’s main attractions is Walt Disney World in Orlando and this attraction can get very pricey. The average stay normally lasts from around four to seven days and the price obviously varies however it comes out to around one thousand to one and a half thousand per person. This vacation is always in very high demand, me and my family were looking to plan a vacation to go to Disney World and there are not many that many options, a lot of the hotels are booked out for the time we were planning on going. This really shows how many people going here and this is only one of the companies selling points. More sources of revenue consist of their children’s toys and clothing as well as adult clothing and other wearable cosmetics such as jewelry and purses and things like that. 

Not to mention, Disney has taken over and bought many other production films as they looked to expand their business. One of the major buyouts in the early 2000’s is when Disney bought out Pixar films in a $7.4 billion deal. This gave Disney the rights to already very popular films including Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, The Toy Story series, as well as many other profitable films. After this purchase Disney made sequels to many of these movies, and it turned out to be a great business deal for them. They also use Pixar for the production on many of their animated movies. Another mainstream phenomenon they bought was the rights to Lucas Film the company that housed the great Star Wars saga. Disney capitalized on this deal when he heard the founder George Lucas was looking to retire but he wanted his company to continue with greatness. Disney made a deal to acquire all the rights in a $4.05 billion deal. They have continued the series as well as put a Star Wars section in Disney World that just recently opened. The most recent big purchase that Disney made was to acquire the rights to Marvel Studios and this was one of the best in the history of the company. Marvel Studios was bought for $4.24 billion On August 31, 2009. It is now one decade later and Disney has made more than $18.2 billion at the global box office which is a incase turnover profit.

Along with the typical disney films that have been released in the past they are recreating some of the very first cartoon animated films and bringing them to life in the recent years. These movies consist of Dumbo, The Lion King, Alladin, and they plan on remaking many other films from the past. This is great from the producer end because they already have the plot and events of the movie, all Disney has to do is spend its resources on making the remake look great rather than making a whole new movie. Disney also has its own televised channel with a bunch of shows that continue to air on their network. Some of the fan favorite shows do not appear on the chanel because they would not have time for the new shows. Disney capitalized on the need for the old films and released their own streaming service on November 19th, 2019 called Disney+, this application has all of the old shows that fans will love to either rewatch or watch things they never had a chance to see. Disney+ is the Ultimate streaming service for Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and it is fairly cheap at either $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

Disney as a whole has been one of the most well known brands for decades, and this is just one of their many strengths. With being such a popular company also comes a ton of revenue. “Disney’s most recent financial statements put a value of about $91 billion on its assets.” This is a crazy amount of assets and virtually gives them room to try and innovate in any way they want. Disney characters are also very popular around the world, not just to kids but to people of all ages. Those characters that everyone loved when the company first became popular are still around and loved by many. Other strengths of disney is that they hit a lot of components in the marketplace. There are amusement parks, movies, tv shows, toys, and many other products to ensure that almost everyone enjoys something from the company. Disney has created an empire and they just continue to expand by purchasing more and more companies that were already successful. That being said the target audience just continues to increase. Disney is known worldwide and has parks all over the world, their films also release all over the world. Although the rest of the world does not take in as much attention as the United States and Canada it is a nice option for those not living in this region.

As you can see Disney is a very strong company, they started small and now have an empire in the entertainment world. With many strengths Disney also has a few weaknesses of their own. One of the biggest weaknesses of Disney is they rely heavily on the United States for most of their business. Although they have a few parks outside of the United States, according to sources the U.S. and Canada region bring in up to almost 5 times of the other regions of the world. Also another weakness is they owe past employees a lot of money. According to the department of labor, “Walt Disney Co. will pay more than 16,000 Florida employees a total of $3.8 million in back wages after charging them for their costumes.” Although this number is not even close to their revenue, it is still a lot of money that needs to be paid. Some of the other problems they need to try and overcome is that there is not too much room for diversification, eventually they are going to run out of ideas and it will be apparent to the fan base. Fans will realize that they will try and push out content that is very similar to what they already have. It is already seen with the remakes of their old films, this could be part of the nostalgia factor mentioned before, or it could just be them needing content and can’t think of new things. Also not to mention the demand that there is to plan a vacation to Disney World, they just don’t have enough rooms at times in some of their resorts. Although they just recently built a new hotel in the past years and it was cheaper at first, customers realized this and the price shot up to basically double the starting price.

Bringing these weaknesses to light gives Disney a ton of opportunities. Disney has hit many major points in the marketplace, however there are some areas that are huge that they can capitalize on. One of the largest growing industries of this generation is the gaming industry and they can look to make a major disney game. Also they have many great restaurants in their amusement parks and at their hotels, but this is so secluded and exclusive to having to go on vacation to their resorts. Something they can look to do is expand in the food department. Disney also could look to expand their marketing in other countries around the world to try and generate more revenue from there so they don’t have to rely on the U.S. region as much.

Being such a large company Disney also has a lot of threats that they have to be careful of. In the entertainment industry there is always so much competition. Their biggest amusement park competitor is Universal in Florida which is located very close to Disney World. This is just one of the many examples of many other competitors along with other film production companies and any business in the entertainment business. This could also become a problem when third party brands try and recreate products as a substitute for the original, this could threaten Disney’s profits. Another big threat with having amusement parks is if something goes wrong or someone gets hurt, being such a big company im sure they have good insurance but this is still something to think about. Also Disney parks are a big target to any terrorist group due to the mass influx of people that they see on a day to day basis.

There is no denying that there is a niche in the market for this company. This brand and what it stands for is widely marketed to many groups. However, I feel as if their target audience is children and families. Most of Disney commercials for the parks include scenes of happy families on vacation and they try and make families want to share that breathtaking family vacation. As for marketing towards children, there will always be a space in the market, especially in the coming years due to the constant growth in the amount of children around the world. These are the focus audiences but there are so many different brands under this company it is impossible not to like a product from them. 

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