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On the Event of Disney100, Critics Feel Walt Disney Would Have “Cringed” at Recent Strategies

walt disney company
Images Credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr; Disney

The Walt Disney Company might be celebrating its 100th anniversary, but some aren’t sure if its founder would be happy with the current state of things.

On October 16, 1923, the world was forever changed even though it didn’t yet know it; two brothers founded one of the most influential entertainment companies in the world today. Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney began what would turn out to be one of the biggest global conglomerates. The Walt Disney Company started in Los Angeles as an animation studio, with Steamboat Willie setting the stage for the greatness Disney has achieved in the last 100 years.

However, some critics are quite frustrated with Disney’s recent business strategies, calling out the company on the event of its centennial celebration.

the walt disney company

The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, California / Credit: Disney

How Did Disney Begin?

Walt Disney’s and Roy O. Disney’s journey began with a small animation studio called the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, which was later renamed Walt Disney Studio. The studio was incorporated as Walt Disney Productions in 1929, and as they say, the rest is history.

Over the years, the Walt Disney Company evolved from a modest animation studio to a global entertainment conglomerate. Its expansion was fueled by a relentless commitment to pushing the boundaries of imagination and technology. The company ventured into new territories, including television, film, theme parks, consumer products, and more.

Disney’s commitment to innovation has led to groundbreaking achievements, such as acquiring Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment, and 21st Century Fox. This has happened under the leadership of some of the most celebrated leaders in corporate America, namely Michael Eisner (though his time at Disney had a tragic end) and current Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Walt Disney

Founder of the Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney / Credit: Disney

Journalist and Filmmaker Calls Out Modern-Day Disney

However, while these names and figures have been well-praised and held as some of the best creatives or leaders in the business, off-late, many have been upset with the trajectory of the Walt Disney Company.

Journalist and filmmaker Peter Bart recently wrote for Deadline, explaining his opinion, and it wasn’t flattering. He shared, “[If] Walt Disney were around today, I think he’d cringe at the state of guild negotiations, fights with politicians, and jumps in theme park prices (or streamer fees).”

Bart added, “Having gained immortality for entertaining kids, [Walt Disney] might still agonize about the major new commitment to sports betting made through ESPN, a Disney asset.”

disney world crowds low

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort / Credit: Disney

Peter Bart is one of the few journalists who has actually spoken to Walt Disney himself, and his opinions are based on his interactions with the “shy and media-averse studio pioneer.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that Disney executives themselves don’t believe this. In fact, in the past, Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro has addressed this subject and gone so far as to say he believes Walt Disney would be proud of the company today.

Read More: Senior Executive Speaks on Parks: Walt Disney Would be “Pretty Proud”

Interestingly, D’Amaro isn’t the only one who has thoughts in this vein. Some fans have previously spoken out about the subject from a different perspective. While many feel Walt Disney would be disappointed in the direction the company has taken, others believe that the company wouldn’t even be around if Walt Disney had lived longer.

Walt and Roy Disney

Walt Disney and Roy Disney / Credit: D23

It does bear mentioning, though, that Bart’s critiques of price rises—be that at the theme parks or across streaming platforms—or the inclusion of gambling through ESPN and alcohol at the parks are all things Walt Disney certainly wouldn’t have stood for.

Not only that, now that Disney has become embroiled in a legal battle with Floria Gov. Ron DeSantis, though they’ve vowed to “quiet” the noise, it is unfortunate that the company has made more headlines for these kinds of actions than for producing a great movie in the last year.

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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