As a boy I watched cartoons, including shows featuring He-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as shorter segments featuring Popeye and Bugs Bunny. Weekend mornings I would eat my cereal on a TV tray, despite the kitchen table standing just a few feet away, and laugh away at the animated characters. The special mornings were those spent with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on The Disney Channel.
I wonder if Walt Disney anticipated the impact his loveable characters would have on American children. Disney cartoons and movies are trumped by the theme parks, Disneyland and Disney World. When my parents told me and JD that we’d be vacationing in Disney World when I was seven and then again at twelve, we broke out in hysterics. We had always had great summer trips at beaches, new cities, and various amusement parks, but Disney World was the shit.
In November, 1966, an X-ray discovered a tumor in Walt Disney’s left lung. Five days later a biopsy proved that it was malignant. It had spread across his entire lung, which was removed and followed by chemotherapy sessions. Walt passed away on December 15 of that same year.
Now, I wonder how he’d feel about the Disney empire—five vacation resorts, eleven theme parks, two water parks, thirty-nine hotels, eight movie studios, six record labels, eleven TV networks, and one broadcast station, for an annual revenue of $35 billion. This is the nature of the capitalist machine. I am not opposed—the world would not be where it is today without it. But, surely there are drawbacks. The Walt Disney Company is nothing like it used to be. Now the name evokes thoughts of ABC and ESPN more than Pluto. Disney’s revenue has doubled over the last 15 years, almost entirely because of its media networks. If ESPN8 “The Ocho” comes to fruition then old Walt is pulling a Jesus resurrection and will dominate the world as a giant rat. Walter Rat won't be so lovable.