The Wondrous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics

Think you know everything about Walt Disney? Think again! Here are 10 surprising facts that even Disney fanatics don’t know about.

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Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse stuffed animals

When we think of Disney, the first thing that comes to our minds is Disneyland, the endless amounts of animated movies, and Mickey Mouse himself. But sometimes, we forget to think of the actual man who made all of this come true: Walt Disney. Most of the media that we consume today is in part due to Disney’s contribution to storytelling and marketing. So, let’s look back at some of the most interesting parts of his life!

Just in time for Walt Disney Day, we’ve dug deep to find some outstanding facts about Walt Disney that many Disney fans might not know about. Keep reading to find out 10 stunning revelations that’ll make you want to rewatch your favorite Disney movies.

1. Walt Disney Voiced Mickey Mouse

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics. Disney with Mickey Mouse

How can we forget the adorable little squeaky voice of the one and only, Mickey Mouse? Well, it turns out that voice is more famous than we once realized. In Mickey’s first appearance in the short film, “Steamboat Willie,” it’s Walt himself that voiced the cute mouse. From 1928 to 1947, Walt was the only person to speak for Mickey. Walt Disney was able to add ‘voice actor’ to his list of achievements. Since his creation, Mickey has had a cast of talented voice actors to bring him to life, but we’ll always remember the man who started it all.

2. Mickey Had Two Dads

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics. Walt Disney and Ub Iwerk

Walt Disney has normally been attributed to the creation of Mickey Mouse. But would it surprise you to know that Mickey had two fathers? As Walt gets most of the credit, we should be thanking the creativity of Ub Iwerks. Walt and Iwerks worked together for years before Mickey Mouse became a household name, so it’s not surprising that Iwerks would become one of the main illustrators for Walt. 

However, as time passed, Iwerks became annoyed by the lack of acknowledgment of his contributions, and eventually separated from Disney. There are even some accounts of Disney not being able to draw Mickey, and passing off his work to Iwerks. The next time you see a picture of Mickey Mouse, make sure to thank Ub Iwerks.

3. The Family Name Wasn’t Originally Disney

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics Walt Disney

Walt Disney will go down as one of the greatest American entrepreneurs, earning massive wealth and popularity during his life. After his death, his Empire only continued to grow, amassing more notoriety to the point where now, we stream most of our shows on Disney+. While Walt was born in Chicago, Illinois, Disney’s roots actually extend to the seaside town of Normandy, France. Before changing their last name to Disney, the family’s original name was “D’Isigny.” Wouldn’t it be interesting to see ads for “D’lsignyland?”

4. Disney Was Rejected From the Military

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics Young Walt Disney

Like most of his contemporaries, Walt’s love of drawing started at a young age. The one thing that didn’t come naturally to him, was school. Walt constantly struggled to complete his schooling, and by the time he turned 16, he decided to drop out. Amid World War Ⅰ, Walt decided to turn his attention toward serving the country. He tried to join the U.S. Military but was declined due to his young age. Now learning his lesson, he forged his birth certificate to read that he was 17 years old, and the trick worked. In 1918, Disney officially joined the Red Cross Ambulance Corps and would serve for a little over a year in France.

5. Disney Created Military Propaganda During WW

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics Military Propaganda showing Hitler being hit with a tomato.

In his early career, Disney was intent on separating his work and company from the political sphere, not wanting to tarnish his reputation. However, as World War Two began to rise, he found that there could be business in creating military propaganda for the U.S. government. By 1943, the Disney corporation was making short films such as “Der Fuehrer’s Face” and “Victory Through Air Power.” Many of his films included the character that we all know now as Donald Duck, hurling tomatoes at Hitler and other Nazis. It certainly was a way to show which side the company was on.

6. Mickey Mouse Wasn’t Disney’s First Creation

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics 'Alice Comedies'

Before Walt Disney would form his animation Empire, he and Ub Iwerks started out working with M.J Winkler, an up-and-coming animation company. With their teamwork, they created the animated shorts “Alice Comedies.” These shorts followed a young woman named Alice, who is intrigued by the world of animation and soon finds herself in the middle of it. Surrounded by cartoon characters, the series ran from 1923-1927. 

The two struck luck again when they made a new character, Oswald the Rabbit. Unfortunately, Disney and Iwerks came to find out that the rights to their characters had been stolen by the same people that hired them. The two creatives were back to the drawing board to come up with a fun and loveable character. Luckily, it wouldn’t take them long to surpass the creations from their past.

7. Disney Once Had the Rights to Technicolor

Where would the world be without colorful movies? Luckily for all of us, Disney wasn’t able to retain his ownership of Technicolor forever. In the early 1930s, Disney was fascinated by the use of color in films, and he wanted to make it a reality in his company. After releasing the cartoons Flowers and Trees and Three Little Pigs, Technicolor granted him the exclusive rights to process films in color until 1935. However, he couldn’t keep this technology all to himself, and once his exclusivity window ran out, the whole world was introduced to stories filled with color.

8. The Last Movie Disney Oversaw Was The Jungle Book

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics 'The Jungle Book' promo image.

Nearing the end of his life, Walt Disney’s once small company had now grown into the stratosphere. The corporation was now working on both animated feature films and live-action ones. This put more pressure on not only the animators but on Disney himself. He wanted The Jungle Book to be perfect since his previous film, Sword in the Stone, underperformed in theaters. Many within the company attest to Walt wanting to change everything from the original story by Rudyard Kipling. However, Disney would never see the future success of the film. On December 15th of, 1966, Disney finally succumbed to his fight with lung cancer.

9. Walt Felt Responsible for His Mother’s Death

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics Walt Disney's mother, Flora and his father, Elias.

Have you ever noticed a lack of mothers in Disney’s earlier films? Well, there may be an explanation for that, just one sadder than you think. Flora Call Disney was a devoted mother whom Walt loved dearly. As his business grew, he ensured that his family would be taken care of. According to Walt Disney’s biography, How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life, tragedy struck when Walt least expected it.

 After purchasing a home for his parents, Walt received a call from his mother that something was wrong with the gas furnace. He sent employees out there to fix the problem, but it only made matters worse. In trying to fix the furnace, they instead created a leak. Within the day, his mother died from carbon monoxide poisoning. So, the next time you see a Disney movie without a mother figure, it might’ve been because Disney had been haunted by his loss.

10. Walt Disney Holds the Most Records for Academy Awards

The Wonderous Walt Disney: 10 Facts for Disney Fanatics. Walt Disney with his awards.

It seems like Walt Disney knew what he was doing, and the academy applauded him for his work. Throughout his career, Disney was a risk-taker, and those high stakes eventually paid off. Over his lifetime, Disney had won 22 Academy Awards from his short films to his feature-length movies. It seems like nobody will be able to beat his high score. Especially since Disney had been nominated for the Oscars a whopping 59 times! We’ll just have to wait and see if anybody can compete with Walt’s record. 

The Disney Dynasty is sure to live on for at least another 100 years. Walt Disney’s life has mainly been hidden from us, but with this new information, you can now impress all your Disney friends with these 10 stunning facts!

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