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History of Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, CA

In 2017, it’s hard to imagine a world without Disney.

The characters, movies, and vacationlands under the Walt Disney brand are instantly recognizable around the world, after all, and the styles and techniques Walt Disney Animation Studios helped pioneer continue to influence cartoonists and filmmakers of all stripes.

Indeed, from films to amusement parks, Disney has helped shaped modern entertainment as we know it.

Reviewing the history of Walt Disney Studios—only about a mile from our boutique hotel here in downtown Burbank—it’s clear the restless innovation and boundless ambition of Walt Disney himself, coupled with the talent and dedication of his many partners and employees, ensured the company’s unbelievable success and long-lasting cultural impact.

Formative Days

Cartoonist Walt Disney and his brother Roy, who hailed from Kansas City, founded Disney Bros. Cartoon Studios in Los Angeles in 1923, their initial product being the live-action/animated shorts called “Alice Comedies.” Roy shortly convinced his sibling to rename the company the Walt Disney Studio.

After losing rights to a character he created, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney and his chief animator Ub Iwerks schemed up a new flagship figure: Mickey Mouse. After a couple of silent cartoons, Disney’s high-pitched rodent made a major splash in 1928’s Steamboat Willie, his first talkie.

By the 1930s, Disney was rapidly expanding: Mickey Mouse merchandise was already a big deal, Silly Symphonies series were in full swing, and the studio achieved an enormous hit in 1937 with its first full-length animated film, Snow White. That financial success allowed Walt Disney to move his operations to a bigger studio in Burbank.

The Disney Universe

Now-iconic movies followed—Pinocchio, Dumbo, and more—and after the Second World War Walt Disney Studios continued to diversify. In 1950, it released its first live-action feature film, Treasure Island, as well as the animated classic Cinderella. It began making the groundbreaking nature documentaries called True-Life Adventures and delved into television, with The Mickey Mouse Club debuting in 1955. That same year saw the opening of a completely new sort of family destination: Disneyland, the original of the company’s now-extensive family of theme parks.

Walt Disney died in 1966, Roy in 1971. But the Walt Disney Company they established only continued to grow over the subsequent decades: new animated and live-action smash hits, new theme parks, new television ventures. In the 1990s—a decade of such enormously successful traditional animated Disney movies as Aladdin and The Lion King—Disney also released Pixar’s Toy Story, the first full-length computer-animated film.

Now, of course, the Disney universe also includes such epic franchisees as the Muppets, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Wars, only underscoring the brand’s pop-culture importance.

Visit Walt Disney Animation Studios During Your Hotel Amarano Stay

You can explore the history of that pop-culture force and some of its behind-the-scenes mechanics with a visit to Walt Disney Animation Studios. Staying with us here at the Hotel Amarano, you’re within shouting distance of this legendary creative factory, so don’t miss the chance to see it for yourself during your next visit to Burbank!

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