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- The Walt Disney Company is worth an estimated $130 billion.
- The Disney family’s fortune isn’t known, but they own less than 3% of the company, according to Walt Disney’s grand-nephew, Roy P.
- Two of Walt Disney‘s grandchildren became embroiled in a feud over their trust funds.
- Most of the Disney family members have stayed out of the business and have collectively donated millions to charity.
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The Walt Disney Company has come a long way since it was founded by brothers Walt and Roy O. Disney nearly a century ago. What began as a cartoon studio is now a media powerhouse, complete with amusement parks and properties.
But for all its success, the family behind "The Happiest Place On Earth" has largely stayed out of the limelight and the business. While it’s not known just how much the family is worth, GOBankingRates estimated the company’s net worth to be $130 billion. Roy O.’s grandson, Roy P. previously said the family owns less than 3% of the company, but assuming it is approximately that amount would put their fortune around $3.9 billion (not counting any investments in addition to Disney holdings).
From a family trust fund feud to generous philanthropic endeavors, here’s a look at the three generations of the Disney family.
The family has not responded to multiple attempts to reach them for comment.
Disney cofounder Walt Disney wanted to be a cartoonist since high school, taking extracurricular art classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
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He later worked at a film ad company in Missouri, where he learned animation and went on to form his first animation studio, Laugh-O-Grams, according to the Walt Disney website. But a bad business deal led to the downfall of the studio: A small theatrical company called Pictoral Clubs reportedly offered Laugh-O-Gram $11,000 for six small films, but it only gave Disney a $100 down payment before Pictoral went bankrupt.
Walt then left for Hollywood. In 1923, he cofounded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, which became Walt Disney Studio, with his older brother Roy O. Disney. The two had a close relationship: Walt controlled the creative aspects of the company, while Roy ran the business side.
Five years later, "Steamboat Willy" was the first media production to debut Mickey Mouse. In 1937, Disney’s first feature-length film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," debuted and became a box office hit, taking the company from being in debt to being worth millions of dollars.
By the late 1950s, Walt had created a family entertainment world complete with movies, TV shows, and an amusement park.
In 1953, Walt self-funded a private company, WED Enterprises — now known as Walt Disney Imagineering and opened Disneyland two years later. Roughly a decade later, in 1964, Walt and Roy kicked off the development of Walt Disney World in Florida.
That same year, Walt launched one of the most important projects of his career, according to the Walt Disney website: "Mary Poppins," which received 12 Academy Award nominations.
Today, Disney is one of the biggest media companies in the world, with an estimated net worth of nearly $130 billion. It was named the No. 1 best-regarded company in 2018 by Forbes.
GOBankingRates‘ Sean Dennison evaluated the company’s net worth to be $130 billion based on its revenue and profits from the past three years. In 2019 alone, Disney has been on the upswing. It announced a new streaming service, Disney+, which caused Disney shares to hit record-high, Arjun Reddy of Business Insider reported.
In March, Disney acquired Fox’s entertainment business for $71 billion as part of its plan to compete with technology companies like Amazon and Netflix. It got a controlling stake in streaming service Hulu in the process. It was Disney’s 23rd acquisition.
Overall, Disney has four key business segments, according to Forbes: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products and interactive media.
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