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7 Surprising Facts About The Walt Disney Company

Founded in 1923, The Walt Disney Company (DIS) is by far one of the largest and most popular diversified entertainment companies in the world. From its iconic animated feature films to its multiple world-renown theme parks, Disney has certainly made a name for itself, growing to an over $150 billion company.

Though almost everyone knows the Disney brand, there are still many things about the company that are not as well known. In this piece, we highlight seven interesting Walt Disney Company facts that you probably did not know.

1. Disney’s Cable & TV Business Generates 43% of Total Revenue

While most investors associate the Disney brand with its legendary feature films and amusement parks, the company’s largest revenue generating segment is its media networks business. This segment, which accounts for more than 43% of total revenue, includes Disney’s broadcast and cable television networks, TV production operations, TV distribution, domestic TV stations and radio networks.

Disney’s cable networks include ESPN, Disney Channels Worldwide, ABC Family and SOAPnet. In addition, Disney also owns 50% of the A&E Television Network, which operates A&E, History, Bio, H2, Lifetime, and LMN. Be sure to also check out Companies That Own the World’s Most Popular Brands.

2. Disney Is the Largest Single-Site Employer In the U.S.

The company’s Walt Disney World Resort, located in Orlando, Florida, employs more than 62,000 people, making it the largest single-site employer in the country. Disney World, which includes the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom, spans approximately 25,000 acres (about the size of San Francisco). Another fun fact: Walt Disney bought 43 square miles of Central Florida swampland for Disney World for $5 million – about $185 an acre.

3. Since 1991, Disney’s Annual Revenue Has Decreased Only Twice

Since 1991, Disney’s total annual revenue has only decreased twice – once in 2002 and again in 2009. In 2002, revenues dipped slightly after the company slashed operating, labor, annual live-action film, and internet costs in the prior year.

In 2009, revenues fell 4% – the company cited the global economic downturn and an acceleration of secular challenges as the main reasons behind the dip. A closer look at the books shows that only Disney’s Parks and Resorts, Studio Entertainment, and Interactive Media segments logged in lower revenues than a year prior.

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4. Only 2 of Disney’s 5 Highest Grossing Films Are Animated

In the history of the Walt Disney Company, the all time highest grossing films are Marvel’s “The Avengers,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “Toy Story 3,” “Iron Man 3,” and “Frozen”; only “Toy Story 3″ and “Frozen” are animated features.

Combined, these five films raked in a gross total of $2.27 billion in theaters. “Toy Story 3″ managed to rake in over $415 million, while “Frozen” just topped $400 million.

5. DVD, Blue-ray, and TV Distributions Rake in More Money Than Movie Debuts

In 2014, Disney’s Studio Entertainment segment generated the majority of its revenues from the home entertainment and TV and SVOD distribution markets. These two segments include the sales of DVDs and Blue-rays, as well Pay-Per-View, On-Demand, and Pay Television distributions.

6. Disney Has Close Links With WWII

During WWII, the U.S. and Canadian governments commissioned Disney to produce several training and propaganda films. By 1942, roughly 90% of the company’s employees were actively working on war-related films, such as “Victory Through Air Power” and “Education for Death.” In addition, Disney produced several anti-Hitler shorts meant to boost U.S. morale at home, including Academy Award-winning “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” which featured Donald Duck.

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7. Disney’s Board Includes Executives from Twitter, Facebook and Potbelly

The Walt Disney Company’s Board of Directors is comprised of 10 well-known individuals, which includes Disney’s CEO Robert Iger. Notable directors include:

  • Jack Dorsey, Chairman of Twitter Inc. and CEO and co-founder of Square, Inc.
  • Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, Inc.
  • John Chen, CEO and Chairman of Blackberry, Ltd.
  • Aylwin Lewis, CEO and President of Potbelly Sandwich Works
  • Orin Smith, former President and CEO of Starbucks Corp.

The Bottom Line

While some of these fun facts won’t necessarily help you making an investment decision about The Walt Disney Company, it is important for investors to always take the extra step when researching a prospective investment.

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