A Map of the Disney Entertainment Empire Reveals the Deep Connections Between Its Movies, Its Merchandise, Disneyland & More (1967)

We all remem­ber the first Dis­ney movie we ever saw. In most of our child­hoods, one Dis­ney movie led to anoth­er, which stoked in us the desire for Dis­ney toys, Dis­ney games, Dis­ney comics, Dis­ney music, and so on. If we were lucky, we might also take a trip to Dis­ney­land or one of its descen­dants else­where in the world. Many of us spent the bulk of our youngest years as hap­py res­i­dents of the Dis­ney enter­tain­ment empire; some of us, into adult­hood or even old age, remain there still.

Die-hard Dis­ney fans appre­ci­ate that the world of Dis­ney — com­pris­ing not just films and theme parks but tele­vi­sion shows, print­ed mat­ter, attrac­tions on the inter­net, and mer­chan­dise of near­ly every kind — is too vast ever to com­pre­hend, let alone ful­ly explore.

It was already big half a cen­tu­ry ago, but not too big to grasp. You can see the whole of the oper­a­tion laid out in this orga­ni­za­tion­al syn­er­gy dia­gram cre­at­ed by Walt Dis­ney Pro­duc­tions in 1967. Depict­ing “the many and var­ied syn­er­gis­tic rela­tion­ships between the divi­sions of Walt Dis­ney Pro­duc­tions,” the infor­ma­tion graph­ic reveals the links between each divi­sion.

Along the arrow­head­ed lines indi­cat­ing the flows of man­pow­er, mate­r­i­al, and intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, “short tex­tu­al descrip­tions show what each divi­sion sup­plies and con­tributes to the oth­ers.” The motion pic­ture divi­sion “feeds tunes and tal­ent” to the music divi­sion, for exam­ple, which “pro­motes pre­mi­ums for tie-ins” to the mer­chan­dise licens­ing depart­ment, which “feeds ideas for retail items” to WED Enter­pris­es (the hold­ing com­pa­ny found­ed by Walt Dis­ney in 1950), which pro­duces “audio-ani­ma­tron­ics” for Dis­ney­land.

Some of the nexus­es on the dia­gram will be as famil­iar as Mick­ey Mouse, Goofy, Tin­ker­bell, and the char­ac­ters cavort­ing here and there around it. Oth­ers will be less so: the 16-mil­lime­ter films divi­sion, for instance, which would even­tu­al­ly be replaced by a colos­sal home-video divi­sion (itself sure­ly being eat­en into, now, by stream­ing). The Celebri­ty Sports Cen­ter, an indoor enter­tain­ment com­plex out­side Den­ver, closed in 1994. MAPO refers to a theme-park ani­ma­tron­ics unit formed in the 1960s with the prof­its of Mary Pop­pins (hence its name) and dis­solved in 2012. And as for Min­er­al King, a pro­posed ski resort in Cal­i­for­ni­a’s Sequoia Nation­al Park, it was nev­er even built.

“The ski resort was one of sev­er­al ambi­tious projects that Walt Dis­ney spear­head­ed in the years before his death in 1966,” writes Nathan Mas­ters at Giz­mo­do. But as the size of the Min­er­al King plans grew, wilder­ness-activist oppo­si­tion inten­si­fied. After years of oppo­si­tion by the Sier­ra Club, as well as the pas­sage of the Nation­al Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy Act 1970 and the Nation­al Parks and Recre­ation Act of 1978, cor­po­rate inter­est in the project final­ly fiz­zled out. Though that would no doubt have come as a dis­ap­point­ment to Walt Dis­ney him­self, he might also have known to keep the fail­ure in per­spec­tive. As he once said of the empire bear­ing his name, “I only hope that we nev­er lose sight of one thing — that it was all start­ed by a mouse.”

h/t Eli and via Howard Low­ery

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dis­ney­land 1957: A Lit­tle Stroll Down Mem­o­ry Lane

How Walt Dis­ney Car­toons Are Made: 1939 Doc­u­men­tary Gives an Inside Look

Walt Dis­ney Presents the Super Car­toon Cam­era

Disney’s 12 Time­less Prin­ci­ples of Ani­ma­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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