Happy 90th Anniversary, Walt Disney Company

October 16, 2013 marks the 90th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. If you’re asking yourself, “I thought we celebrated the 100th anniversary a few years ago, then you’re probably thinking of this anniversary:

Logo for 100 Years of Magic Celebration that occurred in the Disney parks.
Logo for 100 Years of Magic Celebration that occurred in the Disney parks.

That was the birth of Walt Disney on December 5, 1901. So it isn’t that date. Nor is it the birthday of Mickey Mouse.

Poster celebrating Mickey's 60th anniversary.
Poster celebrating Mickey’s 60th anniversary.

That happened in 1928, which will make him 85 next month on November 18th. That’s a great anniversary, but it’s not this one.

This is the one associated with D23. So many fans belong to D23, but few know why it’s called D23 and what really happened that year.

Tinkerbell welcomes new members to D23.
Tinkerbell welcomes new members to D23.

D23 is identified with the year 1923, when Walt and Roy Disney signed a contract with M. J. Winkler for distribution of six Alice Comedies for a price of $1,500 apiece, and six more at $1,800 apiece, with an option for two more series.

It was only a day before on October 15th that Walt had gotten a telegram from M. J. Winkler approving the series. Walt headed over to the West Los Angeles hospital to see his brother waiving the paper in his hand. Roy had been staying there recuperating from tuberculosis. Since being discharged from the navy, Roy had not been feeling well. Eventually doctors had found a spot on Roy’s lung and had required him to stay in the hospital. Hospital stays brought him out west to dry climates until he finally reached California. That’s when he suggested to his brother that he come out West, as Walt’s Laugh-O-Gram business in Kansas went bankrupt.

Walt convinced his brother to join him in business, a potential opportunity for Roy because the stigma of Tuberculosis precluded him from getting a job in a bank or any other business for that matter. They set up shop, borrowed money from their uncle and others, and went into business. The rest is history.

There have been a few milestones during this time. The one I remember most is the 50th anniversary of what was by then Walt Disney Productions.

Disneyland Records 2 LP album, 50 Happy Years of Disney Favorites
Disneyland Records 2 LP album, 50 Happy Years of Disney Favorites

I remember this well, as I purchased this record back in 1973. The 5oth logo was used extensively throughout the organization.

In 1983, they created this drawing to commemorate the 60th anniversary:


The painting is fantastic as it captures the entire Walt Disney organization at that time, to include the brand new Epcot.

The 75th anniversary is really the last time there was any logo or merchandise. A number of pieces were done through the Disney Store including Christmas ornaments and even a guitar:


This year there is really no logo or guitar. D23 is opening a Treasures of the Disney Archives exhibit on Wednesday in Chicago, which was where Walt Disney was born. But there is little else that has so far been announced. Hopefully, there will be something sizable on the 100th anniversary.

Why do I focus on this anniversary to the exclusion of others? Well, my birthday is also October 16th. I feel a sort of kin to not only the anniversary, but to the entire Walt Disney Company. Therefore I cheerfully provide a big, Happy Anniversary!

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