October 16th marks a huge day in The Walt Disney Company’s illustrious history, and one it has been celebrating all year long. In just over a month the Disney company officially turns 100 years old, marking a full century of innovation, creativity, and beloved entertainment. In honor of the big day, Disney quizzed it’s followers on X (formerly Twitter), about The Walt Disney Company’s original name.
Some were surprised to hear the current name wasn’t the one used in the 1923 founding of the company! So here’s a look back at the fateful October day and some changes since then.
The Disney Company is Born: October 16th, 1923
After a New York distributor contracted to distribute Walt Disney’s cartoon “pilot” the Alice Comedies on October 16, 1923, the Disney company was officially on the map! Because Walt founded the company with his older brother Roy Disney, the partnership was known as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio! There you have it! The original name of what is now one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
But the name would change only three short years later…
Another Name Change: January 1926
At the request of Roy Disney himself, the Company shifted again in 1926 under a new name: the Walt Disney Studio. This era included Walt’s struggle with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s copyright and the birth of the now iconic character, Mickey Mouse. 1928 saw the release of Steamboat Willie, which was Disney’s first synchronized sound cartoon. Walt’s creations were popular and company growth was undeniable.
Four Companies Come In: December 16, 1929
D23 reports that in 1929, “The Disney brothers’ partnership is replaced by four companies: Walt Disney Productions, Ltd.; Walt Disney Enterprises; Liled Realty and Investment Company; and the Disney Film Recording Company.” Ultimately, the company is now incorporated as Walt Disney Productions.
In this era, Walt Disney’s groundbreaking and Academy Award winning feature cartoon Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) delights audiences.
The Walt Disney Company: February 06, 1986
Much later than modern fans may realize, The Walt Disney Company didn’t go by its current name until 1986! After growing from one “animation studio into an international media conglomerate” the corporation had to restructure. About 20 years after Walt passed away, Walt Disney Productions officially became The Walt Disney Company and the animation section of the company became known as Walt Disney Feature Animation (renamed Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2007 by John Lasseter).
Since then, The Walt Disney Company has grown even more and is helmed by CEO Bob Iger. The Company has since acquired 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, National Geographic, the Star Wars franchise, Pixar Animation Studios, ESPN, and ABC, while operating an extensive Disney Park system.
Disney has come quite far in 100 years, and while we doubt another name change is in the works, who knows what the future may hold! Check out a detailed timeline and description of the company’s legacy from D23 here!