a media industry resource

Disney Group: landmarks


This chronology is indicative only. It covers -

* antecedents
* beginnings (1928)
* going public (1940
* bailout by ABC (1954)
* the golden age? (1964)
* conglomerate (1984)
* engulfs ABC (1995)

Context is provided by the broader communications and media timeline on this site.


1901 Walter Elias Disney born in Chicago

1918 Walt forges parents' signatures, and enlists in American Ambulance Corps

1919 Walt and Ubbe Iwwerks (later Ubbe Iwerks) form Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists

1928 Iwerks modifies Disney's "Oswald The Lucky Rabbit" character, turning him into Mickey Mouse.


1928 first silent film featuring the Mouse premieres on Sunset Boulevard

1928 "Steamboat Willie" is first cartoon designed for use with a soundtrack

1930 The first Mickey Mouse comic strip is published, in New York Mirror

1930 Disney buys Iwerks' 20% share of company for US$2,920

1934 Three Little Pigs wins Academy Award

1937 Disney's first full-length animated feature film Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs premieres at cost of US$1.5 million

1940 Pinocchio premieres at Central Theatre in New York

going public

1940 Walt Disney Productions goes public after debt reaches US$4.5 m

1941 Fantasia opens in Chicago

1941 Disney animators stage a strike with strong industry and community support

1945 Roy Disney becomes company president

1946 Disney announces planned layoffs of over 400 employees of a staff of 1000

1948 with US$4 million debt, Disney accepts US$1 m interest-free loan from Howard Hughes

1949 The Walt Disney Music Company formed

1950 first Disney TV special One Hour in Wonderland airs on NBC

1950 Treasure Island

1952 Walt Disney forms Walt Disney Incorporated, to develop ideas for a "family park" to be called Disneyland

1952 WED Enterprises founded

1953 Disney establishes Buena Vista Distribution Company as Disney's film distributor

1953 Peter Pan

bailout by ABC

1954 Disney and ABC sign agreement about building of Disneylandia. ABC invests US$500 000 in cash, guarantees all WED bank loans and gets 35% ownership of Disneylandia (with all profits from park's food concessions for 10 years

1954 first Disneyland TV show debuts on ABC network

1955 Disneyland opens in Anaheim, and has 1 million visitors within 6 months

1955 Mickey Mouse Club, Disney's second TV show is launched

1956 The "Bathroom of Tomorrow" attraction opens in Disneyland

1957 Zorro

1960 Disney buys ABC's one-third interest in Disneyland for $7.5 m and pay off all loans

1964 Disney features at New York World's Fair

the golden age?

1964 first death in Disneyland and premiere of Mary Poppins

1965 Disney buys rights to A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh

1966 Walt Disney dies of lung cancer and J Edgar Hoover orders name removed from list of FBI's informants

1969 The Love Bug

1971 Walt Disney World in Orlando opens

1971 Roy Disney dies

1971 100 millionth visitor to Disneyland

1983 Tokyo Disneyland opens

1983 Disney Channel


1984 recurrent takeover bids amid claims that group is underperforming

1984 first Touchstone Pictures release

1984 Eisner and Wells become Chairman and President

1984 Steve Jobs acquires Pixar from director George Lucas for US$10m

1986 Walt Disney Productions renamed The Walt Disney Company

1986 Capital Cities Communications buys American Broadcasting network for US$3.5 billion to create Capital Cities-ABC

1986 500 millionth theme park visitor

1987 first Disney Store opens

1990 Hollywood Records founded

1990 first Hollywood Pictures release

1992 Disneyland Paris opens

1993 buys Miramax for US$80m

1994 Beauty & the Beast stage shows opens on Broadway

1994 The Lion King

1994 Disney Interactive formed

1995 Pocahontas

engulfs ABC

1995 takeover of Capital Cities/ABC for US$19 billion

1995 Disney Online, Disney's internet division

1996 launched

1996 buys 25% and management control of California Angels (later renamed Anaheim Angels) major league baseball team

1996 Radio Disney launched on ABC Radio Networks

1997 sells Chilton Business Group (39 trade magazines) to Elsevier for US$447m

1997 The Lion King stage production opens

1997 sells Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Belleville News-Democrat and Wilkes-Barre Times Leader to Knight Ridder

1998 buys 43% in Infoseek web portal

1999 buys remaining equity in Anaheim Angels from family of 'singing cowboy' Gene Autry for US$140m, spends US$100m on Edison Field stadium

2001 pays US$40m for 50% stake in Wenner Media's Us Weekly

2001 buys founded Baby Einstein company from Julie Aigner-Clark for US$25m

2001 buys Fox Family Worldwide from Murdoch and Saban for US$5.3bn

2003 sells Anaheim Angels for US$180m to billboard czar Moreno

2004 Comcast makes unsuccessful US$54bn hostile takeover bid

2004 Disney sells 313 stores in US to retail chain Children's Place

2006 Disney announces US$7.4bn takeover of Pixar

2006 announces plan to spin off radio operations into Citadel

2006 buys Indian children's cable and satellite TV channel Hungama (launched 2004) for £16.5m

2006 pays £7.5m for 14.9% stake in Indian media group UTV Software Communications

2006 sells stake in Us Weekly to Wenner Media for US$300m

2007 agrees to pay US$40m for NY Times' radio station WQEW

2007 ESPN buys Cricinfo from Mark Getty

2007 pays US$350m for virtual community Club Penguin