• 3 June 2020

A little bit of history : Walt Disney and the story of Animation

Today, the world of cinema is incredibly diverse with fantastic movies for everyone to enjoy, but many technologies had to first be invented to create an immersive universe through short films and feature films. Our Disneyland Paris Ambassadors go back to tell you some of its main milestones …

Walt Disney played a crucial part in this development. Who doesn’t know the technique that allows for animated and live-action images to be combined?  The novelty of combining live-action and animation had already been done by the Fleischer brothers, who put animated characters into real world settings before Walt. What Walt did differently is that he showed live actors entering the cartoon world. Basically, he reversed the idea.

We saw the results of this in classic movies such as Mary Poppins (1964) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). But did you know that Walt already used this technique in 1924 with a series of short films in black and white, introducing the world to a little girl called Alice who explored a world of cartoons in the Alice Comedies.

One of the most important moments in Walt’s career was creating the animated short cartoon, Steamboat Willie, at first without sound. Walt, a true visionary, found the company with a sound recording technology that he thought would work for Steamboat Willie, a system called the Cinephone process: it enabled himto synchronize sound and image, and integrate sounds and music, he decided to use this for his famous short cartoon, launching a new era in the world of cinema.

Obviously, we can’t forget the use of full color in animated films which was a major innovation. In 1932, the very first cartoon in full color called Flowers and Trees was introduced to the public from the Silly Symphonies series. This short was already being produced in black and white when Walt met Herbert Kalmus, an American scientist and engineer who developed the technology “Technicolor”.  Walt Disney had the foresight to sign an exclusive 2-year contract for the use of Technicolor’s new 3-color process in cartoons, and he first used it in Flowers and Trees (1932). For the first time it brought full color to cartoons.  

Another technology that is probably less known but still so important was the invention of the multiplane camera. It allowed for an illusion of depth to be created in cartoons and was used for the first time in 1937 for The Old Mill, another Silly Symphoniesproduction. As this test was successful, Walt Disney Productions decided to continue to use the camera for animated feature films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs(1937), Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940) and Bambi (1942).

Of course, many other technologies have been invented, used and promoted by Walt and his animators throughout the decades. As a true pioneer of animated movies, Walt has always continued his search for new, innovative ways to advance the cinematic arts and surprise the public.

Without him, cinema surely would not have been the same. Today, thanks to our talented Cast Members in Studio Entertainment and the unique movies they create, Walt’s legacy lives on in cinemas and on screens all around the world.



Great lover of the Disney universe, I live my passion throughout the year since I work listening to ED92radio and I go to Disneyland Paris several times a year. I also had the chance to visit American Disney parks and to go on vacation with Mickey several times on board the Disney Cruise Line boats. So it was only natural that I wanted to join the ED92 team as a blog editor in February 2020, to share with you my experience and my passion for this magical universe.

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