Walt Disney: A Biography
By Louise Krasniewicz

Summary of the book:

        Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928, produced the world's first animated feature film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937, opened Disneyland in 1955, and along the way, became a very famous man. Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago on December 5th, 1901. He had three older brothers and one younger sister. In order from oldest to youngest, the names were Herbert, Raymond, Roy, Walt, and Ruth. When Walt was only 5, his family moved to a small town called Marceline, Missouri. One of his favorite memories in that town was being with Doc Sherwood. Walt said, "He used to encourage me in my drawing and give me little presents for my effort." Walt didn't attend school until he was 8 years old so that he could go with Ruth, his younger sister. After completing his first year of school, the Disneys moved to Kansas City in 1911 where some of his relatives already lived. However, Herbert and Ray wanted to stay in Chicago and live their own life. Walt's memories in the small town of Merceline would affect him his whole life.

       To make money for their family, Walt and Roy arose at 3:30 in the morning every day to deliver newspapers to their neighborhood in Kansas City. After that they went off to school. Walt recalls that one day the students were assigned to draw flowers. Walt drew his flowers with faces on them like in a cartoon. The teachers scolded him for that. To redeem himself and for the fun of it, Walt dressed up as Abe Lincoln and recited the Gettysburg address on Abraham Lincoln's birthday. This delighted the teachers and principal, whose name was also Walter. He and Walt became good friends. He even welcomed Walt into his home and helped him create little skits. Later on, the school that the Disney family attended was replaced with the name of the Walt Disney Elementary School in 1960.

        When Walt turned 15, his father sold the newspaper distribution route and headed back to Chicago. However, only Elias, Flora, and Ruth went. Walt decided to stay behind with Roy and work in Kansas City. As another way to try and make money, Elias invested in a jelly factory. Walt spent the summer working on trains handing out snacks and refreshments with Roy. Walt remembered when he would stand with his head hanging out of the train with the conductor when it was pulling into a station. He said he felt like he was on top of the world. Around 1914 Roy joined the Navy but Walt was still too young. However, he wanted to serve and be of good cause so he joined the Red Cross American Ambulance Corporation, which took 17-year-olds. Walt was only 16 so he forged his Birth Certificate that was mandatory to show in order to join. While he was training, he caught the flu which eventually killed more than tens of millions of people worldwide. When he felt better, he was shipped out to La Harve, France on November 11, 1918. Gradually he sent money to his mother, Flora, to save for him. He eventually earned enough money to start his own business. Walt Disney had a plan, and it wasn't to work in a jelly factory.

          Walt was passionate about drawing and making skits and cartoons so by the age of 18, he got his first job with a small cartoon company. He was a draftsman at the Kansas Art Studio. This is where he meet Ub Iwerks who was an amazing animator and a good friend of Walt's. In 1923, Walt, his brother, Roy, and Ub opened their own small business called Walt Disney Studio. 5 years later they made a cartoon called "Steamboat Willy" starring Mickey Mouse who would take the company into a whole other perspective.  Mickey Mouse let Walt introduce sound to short films which was mind-blowing at that time. Walt then realized that he could then expand on the idea of sound and went on to create "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". This animated film was considered the highest grossing film of the year and named America's greatest animated film of all time.

        In the early 1940s Walt opened a new studio in Burbank and released more classics such as "Pinocchio", "Fantasia", "Dumbo", and "Bambi". Each of these films gave off new characteristics and ideas for future reference. Walt's business started to really grow while they released "The Reluctant Dragon", "The New Spirit", starring Donald Duck, "Song of the South", "True Life Adventure" series, "So Dear to my Heart", "Seal Island", "Adventure Island", "Alice in Wonderland" (which started out as "Alice's Wonderland"), "Robin Hood", "The Sword and the Rose", and many, many more. Most of these films won many Academy Awards and was viewed by many, many people across the world.

       Walt had a dream that he wanted to have come true. It was to create a place where kids and adults could have fun. There was a theme park when Walt was little that he and his sister always wanted to visit. However, they never had enough money to go in. Walt wanted to make a cheap park for families that didn't have a lot of money and didn't have a lot of fun. On July 17, 1955 Walt and his company had a grand opening of Disneyland that blew people away.

         Walter Elias Disney died on December 15, 1966 from a circulatory collapse caused by lung cancer. Although he died, Walt Disney left his imagination, creativity, and fun behind.


        This is a Walt Disney Medley. It is made up of classic pieces of music that Walt came up with. He was the creator of our friend, Mickey Mouse. Mickey's original name was "Mortimer" but Walt's wife suggested a better name. Walt, as he preferred to be called, then agreed.  This song is very appropriate because these are songs all made from Disney and it can really connect with one who has seen any movies or been to a Disney park.


         This is a video celebrating the 50 years of Disneyland in California. After the piles of people visiting, Walt decided to build a new amusement park only bigger, better, and more fun. Walt saw the massive waves of families roll in and thought that he could open parks in Europe. Unfortunately, these parks almost had the company go broke. Very few people visited the new parks. However, Walt got back on his feet and produced more and more merchandise related to Disney and expanded on his theme parks and imagination.

Pictures of Disney Parks:

       This is Main Street, Disneyland in California. As can be seen, the original castle in this picture is very different than the one in Disney World below. This is because the new castle is more modern and more stable. In fact, you can actually win a 5 day 4 night vacation inside of the castle. You cannot stay in the original castle but you can see the wonders of Disneyland within it.

      This is Disney World in Florida. There is a moat around the castle with a boat. In order to get in, you take the boat to the castle draw bridge and walk in. There is a statue of Walt Disney taking the hand of Mickey Mouse and showing him the wonders of Disney.

Extended Response:

       If there is one theme from the biography, it is that you should always follow your dreams and never give up. This is because Walt Disney did not believe in himself at many times but never gave up in what he loved the most.

       At many times in his life, Walt thought that he couldn't get any further than where he was. After all, he did work through the Great Depression and was stopped multiple times in business. Walt always said that you should never give up on your dreams because then what do you have to live for? Walt also believed that you can do anything you set your mind to. These statements are true and helpful in life because you never know what lies ahead.

      Clearly, there are many themes in the biography but only the one really sticks out at you. This is that you should always follow your dreams.


Walt Disney Picture:

This is a jumble of cartoons that shows what Walt Disney is like during his life. If you read some of the quotes you can understand how great of a man Walt Disney really was.


This video is another mini biography of Walt Disney. Some videos only talk about Walt's successes in life but this video really goes under the surface of his story even though it is only 4 minutes long.

A Very Famous Quote:

This quote from Walt Disney is one of his most famous quotes of all time. It means that you can't just sit around and wait for your dreams to come true. You have to make them happen or they never will.

More Quotes:

This short video is just full of more important quotes from Walt Disney himself. These quotes are important for life lessons later on because they are very helpful and inspirational.

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