Walt Disney, the man at the foundation of The Walt Disney Company, would be celebrating his 120th birthday this year on the 5th of December. While Walt was only able to witness the opening of one Disney park and 81 feature films during his lifetime, he’d be in awe of what his dreams have inspired, more than 50 years after his death.
Since April 2021, we’ve been collaborating with The Walt Disney Company to bring the magic from screen to wrists of kids across the UK with Neo Smart Kids’ Watch. Now with new additions: Disney’s Ariel, Olaf, and Donald Duck and Star Wars™ Chewbacca, there’s a beloved character for every child to tag along in their adventures. Neo gives kids a sense of independence and healthy habits whilst you stay in touch with calls and chat between the watch and your phone.
In celebration of Walt Disney’s birthday, we’ve found five interesting facts about the man behind the magic:
1. Disney’s Mickey Mouse was created over 90 years ago
Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney in 1928 to replace his studio’s first starring cartoon character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Did you know that Mickey’s name was almost Mortimer? Walt’s wife, Lillian, suggested the name change, and the rest was history. The character made his theatrical debut in Steamboat Willie in 1928. Fun fact: Walt himself was also the featured voice of Mickey Mouse from 1928 until 1947.
2. Walt Disney’s favourite song was “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins
Everyone knows how catchy “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book is but did you know that a song from Mary Poppins was regarded as one of Walt’s favourites? “Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)” was written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman and featured in Mary Poppins when it was released in 1964. Richard once said that Walt knew it was the ‘heartbeat of the whole movie,’ and he often requested personal performances of the song by the brothers.
3. Walt Disney loved trains
Walt, an avid train enthusiast, had an elaborate train model built in his office that he enjoyed running for his guests. He also built a ⅛ scale model railroad in his back yard, named the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, whose track spanned half a mile. This explains the railroads later featured in Disney parks around the globe, including the beloved Walt Disney World Railroad loop encircling most of Magic Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Walt Disney’s first feature-length animated film
In 1937, animating a full-length film was a big venture. Apart from the storyboards and scripts, every frame had to be drawn by hand. No surprise that it received a standing ovation at its first screening.
5. Walt Disney played Peter Pan in a school play when he was younger
While the story of Peter Pan conjures up Disney’s 1953 image of the title character dressed in green, the story of the boy-who-wouldn’t-grow-up dates back as far as 1902. Walt Disney, like many other kids at the time, loved the story of Peter Pan. He even got to star as Peter in a school play. His brother, Roy, was in charge of the pulley system that helped Walt soar through the air as Peter Pan, making it one of their earliest creative collaborations.
Walt Disney was definitely a remarkable person, whose dreams and aspirations built an empire of magic spanning the globe. Even to this day, kids are able to grow up on these classic family-favourite films and their imagination doesn’t need to just stop at the screen.
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