It's Walt Disney's Birthday! Why His Legacy Matters to Us All

Walt & Mickey

The date December 5th has a very special place in Disney fans’ hearts – like mine. On December 5th, way back in 1901, Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois, to his parents, Elias Disney and Flora Call Disney. The young boy, with a very active imagination and pioneering spirit, went on to be one of the most influential, innovative and important entertainment icons ever. If he was alive today, not only would he be 111, but he would—no doubt—be completely shocked and, I’m sure, delighted to how his company has changed, evolved and has weathered many a storm to be one of the most powerful media companies in the world.

What Walt Disney leaves us is a wonderful legacy of films that are beloved by generations, parks that have entertained millions plus all the other countless ways that the Walt Disney Company has touched our lives. Just last week, I was in my kitchen making dinner (I believe it was turkey noodle soup) and an odd thought popped into my head while I was chopping the celery. “What if Walt Disney was never born,” I thought. Now, I should confess, I think of Walt Disney more than the average person, but I was really struck by the idea of what the world of entertainment, a world I’m immersed in, would be without his mark.

A world without Disneyland? It would feel so empty.

A world without the animated feature? I’m sure someone would have developed it, but would we have the same quality of artistry and heart like Snow White, Cinderella and Peter Pan?

A world without Mickey Mouse? He’s become such an icon and is considered to be one of the most recognized symbols in the world.

But Walt gives us another thing. Hope.

Recently I went on a tour at Disneyland called Walking in Walt’s Footsteps. After our guide tearfully spoke of Walt’s untimely death, she said something that was very touching. She said that we may not create a legacy like Walt Disney’s, but that we should always support the Walt Disneys in our lives: the inventors, innovators and thinkers that we know. Those dreamers, like Disney, need all the help they can get. Walt Disney did not do it all alone.

I, for one, am so glad he was born. He continues to inspire so many, myself included.  In honor of Walt Disney and his birthday, here are five of my favorite quotes:

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

Image: Walt Disney Company

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