The Walt Disney Company started in 1923 in the rear of a small office occupied by Holly-Vermont Realty in Los Angeles. It was there that Walt Disney, and his brother Roy, produced a series of short live-action/animated films collectively called the ALICE COMEDIES. The rent was a mere $10 a month. Within four months, the ever-growing staff moved next door to larger facilities, where the sign on the window read "Disney Bros. Studio." A year later, in 1925, the Disneys made a deposit on a Hyperion Avenue lot in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. Construction began on the new studio shortly thereafter. During the next 14 years, many changes took place at the Disney studio: Mickey Mouse was "born" in 1928, followed by Pluto, Goofy, Donald Duck, and the rest of the Disney gang.
In 1937, Disney's innovative first full length animated feature, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, was released to critical acclaim and worldwide success. In order to expand, Walt increased the size of his studio. With profits from Snow White he made a deposit on 51 acres of land in Burbank and began designing a modern studio specifically for the purpose of making animated films.
Walt was personally involved with all aspects of designing the studio. From the layout of the buildings to design of the animators' chairs, nothing was left to chance. His main concern was to produce a self-sufficient, state-of-the-art production factory that provided all the essential facilities for the entire production process.
The Animation Building, housing the Disney Artists and animators, was planned in the center of the lot. Across a small street were built the Inking and Painting and the Camera buildings, where the artwork was completed and photographed.
Next to Camera, in the Cutting building, the post production process occurred. Sound facilities included dubbing, scoring, effects, and voice recording studios. Many of the buildings were linked together by an underground tunnel, so even in bad weather, the process of making animated films was not disrupted. To enhance the campus-like setting, all of the utilities were placed underground which was an innovation for 1940.
A man in New York offered Walt $300 for the license to put Mickey Mouse on some pencil tablets he was manufacturing. Walt Disney needed the $300, so he said okay. That was the start of Disney merchandising. Soon there were Mickey Mouse dolls, dishes, toothbrushes, radios, figurines - almost everything you could think of bore Mickey's likeness. The first Mickey Mouse book was published in 1930, as was the first Mickey Mouse newspaper comic strip.
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