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100 years of Disney: a celebration of its most iconic films

Olivia Buckel reflects on Disney’s last 100 years as the leading name in entertainment.

On Oct. 16, 1923, Walt and Roy Disney founded The Walt Disney Company. Little did they know that their surname would go down in infamy, becoming the biggest single-site employer in the entire world, with over 75,000 employees (about the seating capacity of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum) at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. They were also the producer for 16 individual movies that have made over one billion dollars each. 

Disney is now also the owner of Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and Fox, some of the biggest and most widely known franchises and/or companies on the planet. With over 100 billion visitors entering into its parks annually and over nine million attending each month alone, it is safe to say that Disney has become nothing short of a powerhouse. So, what better way to celebrate 100 years of Disney than by recounting some of its most iconic moments in film.

To start is Disney’s first full-length feature film, as well as the first Disney animated feature, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Not only did this movie set a precedent for the future of Disney animation, but it also made the company so popular that it won an Academy Honorary Award in 1938. With cheerful animals, comic relief in the form of seven distinct dwarves and romance, this movie has been beloved ever since and gives off a breath of nostalgia.

Like “Snow White,” Disney’s “Cinderella” made waves in both its animation style and storytelling, so much so that Cinderella’s dress has been used as a blueprint for ball gowns ever since. Even the name “Cinderella” has become synonymous with “princess” and, because of this film’s popularity, Cinderella’s castle has become the focal point of the Disney World parks.

Although it came out in 1989, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” was the film that ushered in the Renaissance Era for Disney films. This was specifically because of how much music was involved in the film as well as the uniqueness of the storyline compared to films they had made in the past. It also has one of the most iconic villains of all time, Ursula, which set a trend of powerful and clever Disney villains that continues to this day.

To continue the trend of record-breaking animation, Pixar’s “Toy Story” was the first film in history to be entirely computer generated. Even now the animation holds up, making this film much more special. This story of talking toys is both endearing and heartbreaking, showing the bittersweet taste childhood can have. Additionally, this film has become a successful franchise, with four films now under its belt.

It is impossible to have a conversation about iconic Disney films without mentioning one of the highest grossing – and most beloved – movies of all time, “Frozen. Not only did the music from this movie take the world by storm, but it also allowed a different kind of story to take place with the love between two sisters taking precedence over a traditional love story. With “Frozen II” making over a billion dollars over six years after the first movie was released, it is safe to say that Disney will not be letting “Frozen” go (pun intended) for a very long time.

To get into a bit of Disney’s live action showstoppers, “Pirates of the Caribbean” was and continues to be an absolute hit. Based on the Disney World ride of the same name, “Pirates” tells the story of the comedic and relatable Jack Sparrow as he attempts to get his ship, the Black Pearl, back from his previous crew. It balances humor and fright well,  supplemented by romantic and supernatural themes. It is an action packed, iconic movie that has established a legendary franchise.

Finally are the two most popular franchises of Disney today: Star Wars and Marvel. Both are giants that have made Disney billions of dollars. Despite the controversial live action Star Wars movies Disney has produced, the TV shows on Disney+ have become some of its main attractions for new consumers. Shows like “The Mandalorian,” “Ahsoka” and “Andor” have massive amounts of streams. Additionally, Marvel movies and TV shows followed a similar course, with the movies taking a bit more of a front row seat for viewers than the TV shows. With dozens more shows and movies on the horizon, Disney will continue to make waves with these two franchises.

Whether you like it or hate it, Disney has become a household name across the globe. With notoriety across continents, streaming platforms and families with everything from music, movies, shows and parks, Disney has made its mark on pop culture and continues to do so to this day. That at least deserves proper recognition.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Buckel, Media Beat Reporter
Olivia Buckel is a Media Beat Reporter for The Carroll News. She is from Erie, Pennsylvania, and is currently a freshman at JCU. She is majoring in English with a Creative Writing concentration as well as a Gender, Sexuality and Women’s studies minor. She is also in the Honors Program In addition to writing for The Carroll News, Olivia is also a part of the Honors Service Board, as well as the JCU Allies Club and the Women and Allies Coalition. She is also a Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Ambassador and a prose editor for The Carroll Review. During her free time, Olivia enjoys reading fantasy books, writing fantasy stories, and watching fantasy TV. In the future, Olivia hopes to be an editor for a publishing house or magazine.  

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