How Did Walt Disney Influence America?

By Robert Vaux
Walt Disney's influence on American culture is almost beyond reckoning.

Walt Disney's influence on American culture is almost beyond reckoning. From humble origins as a small-time animator, he built a huge empire of movies, television, theme parks and merchandise. The very name "Disney" conjures a specific mood and feeling, which anyone in the Western world immediately understands.

Sound

Disney changed the way we watch movies today.

Disney's 1928 animated short, "Steamboat Willie," was both the first film to feature Mickey Mouse—and the first animated cartoon to feature synchronized sound.

Animation

Disney revolutionized the field of animation.

Disney created the first feature-length animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," along with more than a dozen similar cartoon classics.

Theme Parks

Disney World

Disneyland, created by Walt in 1955, is one of the most popular theme parks in the world, and while he didn't live to see its completion, Walt Disney World in Florida has proven even more successful.

Cal Arts

Tim Burton

Disney funded the California Institute of the Arts, dedicated to training creative artists of every stripe. It produced such innovative filmmakers as John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Tim Burton and Henry Selick.

Television

Disney dramatically increased the number of color televisions purchased by U.S. households.

According to CBS News, Disney's NBC series "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color," dramatically increased the number of color televisions purchased by U.S. households.