Beginning with basic black and white drawings of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse in the 1920s, the Walt Disney Company, now nearly 100 years old, is an American institution and a global multimedia giant. More people visit Disneyland than the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, or the Grand Canyon, while annual revenue for the Disney Company exceeds the GDP of over 100 small countries. Disney owns ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Walt Disney himself is a national folk hero, with such films as The Jungle Book and Pinocchio considered national treasures. But how much do we really know about the company that "all started with a mouse"?
Disney Culture explores the "wonderful world of Disney" in all its facets and dimensions. John Wills tackles Walt Disney's own unique vision of America, the history of mascot Mickey Mouse, and the design of Disneyland in the 1950s; he also examines a range of Disney movies including animation classics Snow White, Bambi, Fantasia, and more recently Frozen, as well as live-action productions such as Mary Poppins, Saving Mr. Banks and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Other topics the book touches on are the creation of a specifically Disney way of doing things in the guise of business practice (the so-called Disney Way); advances in animation; theme park operations; the rise of the "Disney Princess"; and Disney fandom. Disney Culture ultimately challenges the reader to think more deeply about the U.S. entertainment industry, investigating how Disney has remained so popular with generations of children and adults, reshaping American and even global society and culture.
John Wills is a senior lecturer in American history and the director of American Studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. He is the author of Conservation Fallout: Nuclear Protest at Diablo Canyon, California and U.S. Environmental History: Inviting Doomsday.