Top 10 Walt Disney Facts You Probably Never Knew

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My daughter recently did a passion project at school, and being the Disney lover that she is, chose to write about Walt Disney. That made me want to do some research and I found some really interesting facts that I wanted to share with Disney lovers out there like our family.

If you grew up with iconic cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse, chances are you have heard a thing or two about the man behind it all, Walt Disney. Walt Disney himself was so interesting that it is hard to separate myths from the authentic Walt Disney facts.

Walt Disney had a French lineage and came from a humble background. He was a high school dropout who learned to draw. He was the voice actor for Mickey Mouse but not its sole creator. In his lifetime he won 32 academy awards.

Simply listing out the facts really cannot do the man justice. To really get the full picture behind these facts, I recommend you give this full article a read.  

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Who Was Walt Disney?

Before we can jump into the interesting Walt Disney facts, let us quickly get to know the man himself. Walt Disney’s full name is Walter Elias Disney. He was born to a humble family.

Walt Disney rose from nothing to become the pioneer of the American Animation Industry. He created timeless cartoon characters like Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. One of the largest entertainment companies to exist, The Disney Company was also founded by him. He is also the man behind huge amusement parks like Disneyland and Disney World.

Top 10 Facts About Walt Disney

Walt Disney being a remarkable person has a lot of mentionable facts about him. Due to his popularity, there are also a lot of myths surrounding him. Some interesting facts about him are listed below:

1. Walt Disney Was Of French Origin

Walt Disney is the pioneer of the American Animation Industry and the face of The Disney Company, both of which make him appear more American than anything else. But in reality, he has a French lineage.

Walt Disney’s family is originally from Normandy. More specifically, they came from a small seaside town named Isigny-Sur-Mer. Later during the English Restoration, some of his family migrated to Ireland.

Their family name Disney was also French, to begin with. His family name was “D’Isigny” in the beginning which was later changed to Disney.

2. Walt Disney Comes From A Humble Background

When someone hears about one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in the world, The Disney Company, poor is not what comes to their mind. But turns out the founder behind these all, Walt Disney was from humble origins.

As a boy, Disney did not grow up in poverty, but they were definitely not wealthy. His father was a farmer but shifted jobs often. His mother was a school teacher and so the total family income was not much to speak of.

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3. Walt Disney Dropped Out Of High School To Join The Army

When he was only 16 years old and a high school student, Walt Disney wanted to join the army. It was during World War I and Disney wanted to contribute. So, he dropped out of high school. Unfortunately, he was rejected as he was too young for the army.

So, he decided to go for the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. But the minimum age requirement was 17 so he forged his birth certificate to meet the age requirement and joined the team. He was sent to France right before the armistice and dispatched one year later.

4. Drawing Cartoons Did Not Come Naturally To Him

Walt Disney is known for a lot of things, but his best creation is definitely cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and so on. Interestingly, the famous cartoonist was not born with this talent, rather he worked hard on what he was passionate about.

At an early stage, he learned to draw cartoons by copying the cartoons he saw in newspapers. Disney’s father was obsessed with the newspaper named “Appeal to Reason” and so they obviously had heaps of those lying around at home to use as reference.

In his high school years, Walt Disney took photography and art classes to improve his drawing skills even more. He also drew cartoons for the school newspaper at this stage. Besides, he took night classes at the local art center which shows how passionate he was about learning the skill.

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5. Walt Disney Was The Voice Actor For Mickey Mouse

In a sense, the iconic cartoon character Mickey Mouse is the face of the whole Disney enterprise. The squeaky mouse voice for this timeless character was done by none other than Walt Disney Himself.

It was in the short film titled “Steamboat Willie” where Mickey Mouse was first seen. Walt Disney is the credited voice actor for the character Mickey Mouse in this very short film. But after the year 1947, from time to time the voice actor for this character changed.

6. Walt Disney Made Political Contribution During World War II

Walt Disney and his company made short films and educational animation films that can serve as propaganda films for the government of the United States of America during the Second World War. 

Most famous among these propaganda films are ““The New Spirit,” and “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” both of which featured Donald Duck.

7. Walt Disney Earned 32 Academy Awards

Walt Disney has earned a whopping thirty-two academy awards in his lifetime. Which is the highest number of academy awards won by a single person in history.

Some also say he has won more academy awards in total as he has won four honorary awards. But either way, he remains the man who has won the greatest number of academy awards to date. He is also credited with winning many more awards for both music and film.

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8. Walt Disney Did Not Create Mickey Mouse Alone

The cartoon character Mickey Mouse is synonymous with the Disney Franchise. In fact, Walt Disney himself and Mickey Mouse have become interchangeable. But Walt Disney is not the sole creator of this beloved character.

Mickey Mouse is partly the creation of Disney’s coworker Ub Iwerks. The whole process was inspired by Hugh Harman who drew some mice around Disney’s photograph. The mouse was named by Disney’s wife Lilian. So ultimately the creation was a collective effort.

9. Walt Disney Did Not Know How To Quit

Walt Disney is famously said to have failed 300 times. 300 times or 1000, one thing is for sure, the man did not know how to quit. During his career, he faced many drawbacks, and many times his company almost shut down or went bankrupt, but he did not quit.

During the production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” everyone discouraged him to stop the project. A full-length feature film was too ambitious, and he ran out of money in the middle of production. But he still did not quit, and Snow White became one of his biggest successes of all time.

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10. Walt Disney Was Cremated Not Frozen

Disney had been a notorious chain smoker and never made any attempt to quit smoking. In November of 1966 doctors discovered he had lung cancer. After trying cobalt therapy with no luck, on December 15th 1966, Walt Disney died at the age of 65.

After his death, rumors started to circulate that he was frozen using cryogenic technology. People were hoping he would be revived someday. But in truth, he was cremated and buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in California.

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Just like the characters he created, Walt Disney the man himself has remained iconic. After learning about these Walt Disney facts, I’m sure that you now understand how much of a passionate and hard-working individual Walt was. His memories and his identity deserve to live on in our memories and I take pride in playing a part to make that happen.


Heather Noyes, the visionary behind this website and a former Disney travel agent, has woven her lifelong passion for Disney into the fabric of her daily life. Nestled just 3 miles away through the enchanting trees lies Cinderella's Castle, a magical neighbor to Heather's everyday adventures. From her earliest days, Disney has captured her heart, and this enduring love has translated into the meticulous planning of numerous trips for her family, friends, and cherished clients, all destined for the enchanting realm of Walt Disney World.

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