The controversies which have plagued Disney's history

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·News Reporter
·4-min read
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Something that we all have in common is a Disney-related childhood memory.

From the first appearance of Mickey Mouse in 1928, to the countless classic movies, Pixar animations, and the recent Star Wars and Marvel films - the Disney franchise has certainly touched many lives.

And on this day 67 years ago, history was made when the world was introduced to Disney’s first television show.

The Wonderful World of Disney

One year before the opening of Anaheim Disneyland, Walt Disney was finding that theme park construction and operation was a bit more expensive than he had hoped.

Although Disney had previously released films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Bambi; a television series promised to bring a more consistent income.

Disneyland was a popular family destination from day one. Source: Getty Images
The first Disney television show premiered on this day in 1954. Source: Getty Images

So, he entered negotiations to bring a series called Disneyland to television sets across America, and successfully struck a deal with the ABC network.

The first episode, titled The Disneyland Story, premiered on October 27, 1954 in black and white.

From there, the episodes kept coming, with the series continuing for a whopping 40 years under different names including The Wonderful World of Disney and Disney’s Wonderful World of Colour.

The series, which ended up introducing us to characters Zorro and Davy Crockett, is the second longest running primetime program in the history of American television.

By July 17, 1955, Disney successfully opened Disneyland, and cited the television series in helping him advertise the now famous theme park.

However, the Disney name has still copped its fair share of drama.

Disney controversies throughout the years

Throughout his career, Disney was openly criticised for his portrayal of race in his films.

Many fans were quick to notice the inappropriate vernacular of the black crows in Dumbo and heavily stereotyped behaviour of black characters in Song of the South.

The caricature drawing of a black centaur in the movie Fantasia was also labelled as offensive, as a white centaur in the same movie was drawn "attractively".

Outside of this, bizarre conspiracy theories have plagued the Disney name since Walt Disney’s untimely death.

Walt Disney's picture on a postage stamp. Source: Getty Images
Disney is still idolised to this day, with some of his original sketches selling at auction for thousands. Source: Getty Images

On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney passed away from complications associated with lung cancer, for which he was actively seeking treatment.

Since then, pop culture conspiracy theorists have promoted a myth that Disney was cryogenically frozen, with his corpse stored away in a hidden vault beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.

There were even rumours that his body was going to be thawed this year, in an effort to reanimate the famed animator.

Although, Disney’s daughter has publicly gone on record to deny this theory, citing signed legal documents showing that Disney was cremated, the rumours persist.

Despite these notable controversies, Disney movies continued to be released well beyond his death.

Which Disney film has made the most money?

Several Disney films have made billions for the franchise and some of the highest-earning are some of the most recently released.

Since Disney’s famous acquisition of the Marvel franchise in 2009 and the Star Wars franchise in 2012, the top three highest grossing Disney films are quite a departure from the studio's original productions.

The top grossing film in the Disney franchise is Avengers Endgame, having made a whopping $2,797,501,328 at the box office.

Stack of Disney VHS tapes - Pocahontas, Toy Story, The Lion King, Cinderella, Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, The Jungle Book. Source: Getty Images
Many of Disney's movies found instant success upon release. Source: Getty Images

Coming in second is Star Wars The Force Awakens, which made $2,070,828,263, and in third place is Avengers Infinity War which made $2,048,359,754.

However, when it comes to the more traditional Disney format, another three movies take the top spots.

1994’s The Lion King, which made $1,670,719,887, takes out the number one spot.

Frozen 2, which made $1,450,026,933, and Emma Watson’s Beauty and the Beast which made $1,264,434,525 take out the number two and three spots.

Flashing forward, the acquisition of new franchises like Star Wars into the Disney universe has certainly continued the brand’s momentum, and streaming services like Disney+ continue to draw in audiences with a massive 116 million worldwide subscribers.

With a new Peter Pan movie and a Buzz Lightyear film scheduled to be released in 2022, it is safe to say that we won’t be forgetting about the Disney name any time soon.

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