The Most Popular Movie the Year You Were Born

Moviegoers watch Back to the Future at The Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In in Miami, Florida.
Moviegoers watch Back to the Future at The Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

While adorable, babies have only a dim comprehension of the world around them. They certainly don’t have awareness of the highest-grossing movie the year they were born. In case you’re older—and curious—take a look at the films that made the most money (domestically and typically adjusted for inflation) for each of the past 70 years.

The 1950s

A theater screens 1957's 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' in Los Angeles, California in April 2017
A 2017 screening of 1957's The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for TCM

1950: Cinderella

Disney’s animated fairy tale kept audiences on their toes.

1951: Quo Vadis

Audiences loved this Roman costume epic. (The title is Latin for, “Where are you going?”)

1952: The Greatest Show on Earth

Cecil B. DeMille’s grand epic about life under the big top starred Jimmy Stewart and Charlton Heston.

1953: Peter Pan

Disney’s take on the classic children’s fairy tale had kids dragging parents along.

1954: White Christmas

Bing Crosby brought holiday cheer—in April—to audiences with this good-natured musical set (mainly) in Vermont.

1955: Lady and the Tramp

Disney’s story of puppy love triumphed over two Alfred Hitchcock films—To Catch a Thief and The Trouble with Harry—to become the top-grosser of the year.

1956: The Ten Commandments

Charlton Heston as Moses was the best special effect of this Biblical epic, which packed movie houses.

1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai

Director David Lean’s war film about British POWs ordered to construct a bridge for their Japanese captors during World War II fascinated audiences, who made it the year’s biggest success.

1958: South Pacific

This Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about star-crossed lovers took the top spot at the box office that year.

1959: Ben-Hur

Charlton Heston continued his box office domination with this tale of a man in Judea who exacts revenge on his Roman tormentors.

The 1960s

Paul Newman is pictured in a still from 1969's 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'
Paul Newman in 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1960: Swiss Family Robinson

Disney’s family adventure movie attracted more moviegoers than Psycho or Spartacus that year.

1961: 101 Dalmatians

Cruella de Vil and her spotted adversaries surged past West Side Story in 1961. It also beat out other popular family films like The Absent-Minded Professor and The Parent Trap.

1962: The Longest Day

Americans came out for this exciting World War II film about the invasion of Normandy.

1963: Cleopatra

Elizabeth Taylor famously starred in this big-budget costume epic that promised big spectacle.

1964: Mary Poppins

Disney continued its long streak of 1960s success with this tale of a nanny who has magic in her step.

1965: The Sound of Music

Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer starred in this musical about the talented Von Trapp family based on the 1959 stage hit.

1966: The Bible: In the Beginning

This Biblical epic covers the first 22 chapters of the Book of Genesis, with a screenplay co-written by Orson Welles. Audiences flocked to it.

1967: The Graduate

Dustin Hoffman is seduced by Mrs. Robinson and contemplates a future in plastics in this Mike Nichols film.

1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick presented an expansive, expensive space epic that demanded to be seen in widescreen.

1969: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Robert Redford and Paul Newman co-starred in this Western about two affable outlaws. The film beat out The Love Bug, Midnight Cowboy, and Easy Rider to become the year’s top movie.

The 1970s

Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire are pictured in a publicity still for 1976's 'Rocky'
Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire in 1976's Rocky.
Alan Band, Keystone/Getty Images

1970: Airport

This aviation disaster epic took off at the box office, though the Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw tearjerker Love Story, released in December, ultimately made more as it played throughout 1971.

1971: Billy Jack

This modestly-budgeted independent film starring Tom Laughlin as a martial arts loner kicking around bigots was a surprise hit.

1972: The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola’s mob epic was not only the biggest film of 1972, but the highest-grossing film of all-time up to that point.

1973: The Exorcist

Linda Blair’s run-in with the devil was a frightening time for moviegoers, who still made it the biggest movie of the year.

1974: Blazing Saddles

Mel Brook’s Western satire outperformed another Brooks movie, Young Frankenstein, in 1974 to become the year’s most successful film.

1975: Jaws

Steven Spielberg began his long reign as the king of summer blockbusters with this adaptation of the Peter Benchley novel about a shark terrorizing a vacation town.

1976: Rocky

Underdog actor Sylvester Stallone starred as underdog boxer Rocky Balboa in the first of many Rocky films.

1977: Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope

George Lucas’s space fantasy became a pop culture phenomenon. Naturally, it was 1977’s biggest hit.

1978: Grease

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John charmed moviegoers with this throwback to ‘50s courtships.

1979: Kramer vs. Kramer

This Dustin Hoffman domestic drama beat out competition like Superman: The Movie, Rocky II, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The 1980s

Eddie Murphy is pictured at a screening of 1984's 'Beverly Hills Cop' at the Mann Chinese in Los Angeles, California in May 2010
Eddie Murphy attends a screening of 1984's Beverly Hills Cop in 2010.
David Livingston, Getty Images for AFI

1980: Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

George Lucas proved Star Wars was no fluke with this sequel, which took Luke Skywalker to the swamps of Dagobah and Han Solo into the Carbonite chamber.

1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Harrison Ford’s first turn as archaeologist Indiana Jones was the year’s biggest hit, racing past Superman II and Stripes.

1982: E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg’s alien friendship fantasy charmed everyone—and sold plenty of Reese’s Pieces.

1983: Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The climax to the original Star Wars trilogy had people lining up outside theaters, though Tootsie had a respectable showing as the year’s second-biggest film.

1984: Ghostbusters

Slimer and company had a summer hit, though Eddie Murphy ultimately raked in more dough with the late-year Beverly Hills Cop, which sold tickets well into 1985.

1985: Back to the Future

Marty McFly and Doc Brown turned back time but took in plenty of 1980s currency.

1986: Top Gun

Moviegoers had a need for speed as well as shirtless volleyball matches. Crocodile Dundee was a strong second-place finisher.

1987: Beverly Hills Cop II

Cop II was a massive summer hit, though Three Men and a Baby ultimately made more in late 1987 and into 1988.

1988: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

The live-action and animation hybrid was director Robert Zemeckis’s biggest hit of the 1980s after Back to the Future.

1989: Batman

The dawn of the grim and gritty superhero movie, Batman held the public’s fascination all summer long.

The 1990s

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are pictured in a still from 1997's 'Titanic'
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in 1997's Titanic.
Getty Images

1990: Ghost

In a calendar year, the Patrick Swayze fantasy romance Ghost came out on top. But the 1990 and 1991 winter holiday belonged to Home Alone.

1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s relentless T-800 went on a rampage that summer, but Home Alone ultimately made more money than either Ghost or T2.

1992: Batman Returns

In a battle of holiday kid’s movies, Disney’s animated Aladdin and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York sold plenty of tickets over the 1992 and 1993 holiday season. But Batman Returns earned more in the calendar year 1992 than any other film.

1993: Jurassic Park

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel used animatronic and computer-generated dinosaurs to make a Jaws for the modern era.

1994: The Lion King

Disney’s animated classic was almost tied neck-and-neck with Forrest Gump for 1994’s biggest movie but managed to take the top spot.

1995: Batman Forever

Val Kilmer took over the cape and cowl from Michael Keaton in this campy take on the Batman legend, which edged out Apollo 13 at the box office. But if you count 1996 grosses for Toy Story, released that November, Pixar’s playtime adventure movie comes out on top.

1996: Independence Day

This mega-budget Will Smith alien epic ushered in a new era of disaster films. It also beat out another property destruction extravaganza, Twister, that same year.

1997: Men in Black

Notice a trend? Will Smith repeated his summer blockbuster performance in 1997 with another sci-fi film.

1998: Titanic

Released late in 1997, Titanic made most of its record-setting haul in 1998.

1999: Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars returned to screens with an original episode 16 years after Return of the Jedi. If your parents named you Anakin—sorry.

The 2000s

Jim Carrey is pictured in a still from 2000's 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'
Jim Carrey in 2000's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Getty Images

2000: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Jim Carrey starred in this live-action adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic, a holiday hit that out-grossed Tom Cruise and his Mission: Impossible II.

2001: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The first of eight Potter films demonstrated the magic of J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard at the box office.

2002: Spider-Man

What could stop a second Star Wars prequel? Director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, which helped prove that Marvel’s heroes could sell tickets.

2003: Finding Nemo

Pixar’s fishy story was a hit with kids, but with the December release of the final The Lord of the Rings film, The Return of the King, the hobbits ultimately made more across 2003 and 2004.

2004: Shrek 2

DreamWorks scored with the further adventures of ogre Shrek (Mike Myers) and his friend Donkey (Eddie Murphy).

2005: Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Audiences flocked to the “final” Star Wars movie to see how Darth Vader rose from the ashes after his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi.

2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returned for this sequel, which proved even more popular than another highly anticipated 2006 release from Disney: Pixar’s Cars.

2007: Spider-Man 3

Know why they keep making Spider-Man movies? Because they make a lot of money. Tobey Maguire’s swan song was the biggest film of its release year.

2008: The Dark Knight

In a year filled with high-profile movies like Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Twilight, Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film outmaneuvered them all.

2009: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

How proud would you be to say that a Transformers sequel was the biggest movie of the year you arrived in the world? That’s up to you.

The 2010s

Iron Man is pictured in a scene from 2018's 'Avengers: Infinity War'
Iron Man in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War.
Marvel Studios

2010: Avatar

The Pixar sequel Toy Story 3 conquered the summer, but James Cameron’s Pandora saga set box office records when it was released in December.

2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The finale of the Harry Potter saga sold more tickets than the Transformers, Twilight, or Hangover sequels that were released that year.

2012: The Avengers

Marvel’s all-star assembly had four years of hype behind it, which resulted in moviegoers getting excited for a team-up of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk.

2013: Iron Man 3

Robert Downey Jr.’s turn as Tony Stark was the hit of the year, though The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, released in November, ultimately made more through 2014.

2014: Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s space adventure surpassed expectations, though The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 ultimately came out on top during the 2014-2015 winter season.

2015: Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The belated Star Wars sequel, which marked the return of the original trilogy's beloved stars (with Luke and Han still verbally sparring), was for a time the highest-grossing film ever. If you’re going by grosses in a single calendar year, however, Jurassic World came out on top.

2016: Finding Dory

The Finding Nemo sequel swam with the current, though Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Star Wars standalone film about the Rebel plot to steal the Death Star plans, ultimately made more in 2016 and 2017 combined.

2017: Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Though Luke Skywalker was only onscreen for a few moments in The Force Awakens, people clearly missed him—and paid to see what he had been up to.

2018: Black Panther

Marvel’s highly-regarded Wakandan adventure squeezed past the studio's own Avengers: Infinity War to dominate the 2018 box office.

2019: Avengers: Endgame

Death, destruction, and Paul Rudd conspired to make this Marvel finale both the biggest film of 2019 and the biggest film of all time. Top that, 2020.

57 Facts Every Disney Fan Should Know

Mark Ashman/Disney via Getty Image
Mark Ashman/Disney via Getty Image

For nearly a century, Walt Disney's name has been synonymous with fun. From the creation of Mickey Mouse and his legendary slate of animated classic films to his titular amusement parks around the world and Disney+ emerging as one of the premier streaming services on the market, there's never been a better time to be a Disneyphile. Here are 57 things any hardcore Disney fan should know.

(Note: For clarity’s sake, this list uses Walt to refer to the man and Disney to refer to the company.)

1. Walt Disney got paid in haircuts when he was starting out.

A vintage photo of Walt Disney.
R. Mitchell/Express/Getty Images

One of Walt’s first art jobs was drawing cartoons for a local barber in exchange for haircuts.

2. He also photographed babies.

Walt Disney trying to coax a penguin into performing for the camera, for a 'Silly Symphony' entitled 'Peculiar Penguins'.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before shooting footage of penguins, Walt took pictures of babies in Kansas City, Missouri, in order to scrape together the money for a train ticket to Hollywood.

3. Walt's last words were not "Kurt Russell."

Kurt Russell at a press event.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TCM

Nope. The actor's name was one of the last things he wrote in his office, but the note is undated—it could have been up to a month old at the time Walt died in a hospital. Russell has a connection with Disney, though: He has appeared in a Disney-produced or -distributed film every decade since the 1960s, including 1969’s The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, 1971’s The Barefoot Executive, 1981’s The Fox and the Hound, 1993’s Tombstone (which was distributed by Disney), and 2005’s Sky High. Disney also owns Marvel, so 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 should count, right?

4. Walt signed a legal right-of-way agreement for a toy train.

A photo of a young Walt Disney.
Fototeca Gilardi/Getty Images

When Walt built the 1/8th scale Carolwood Pacific Railway in his backyard, he made his wife, Lillian, sign over the right of way through her flower garden. Their two daughters served as witnesses.

5. Mickey wasn't his only famous voice appearance.

The gates at a Disney studio.
Razvan/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus

Walt’s most famous voice-acting role was Mickey Mouse early on, but according to official Disney Archivist Dave Smith, Walt was also the voice of Ferdinand in the Academy Award-winning short Ferdinand the Bull.

6. Walt's first educational film was for a dentist.

A tooth next to dental instruments.
AndreyPopov/iStock via Getty Images Plus

It debuted in 1922 and was called Tommy Tucker’s Tooth. Walt made it for a local dentist in Kansas City. (Other educational films include Four Methods of Flush Riveting for Lockheed, Advice on Lice, and the slightly better known The Story of Menstruation.)

7. Steamboat Willie wasn't the first cartoon with synchronized sound.

Walt Disney and his wife.
Imagno/Getty Images

Despite popular belief, animators had been experimenting with the combination for years. In fact, Max Fleischer had produced a couple of experimental sound cartoons four years before Steamboat. Walt himself saw a sound cartoon before Steamboat Willie’s audio was even recorded; he dismissed it as “a lot of racket and nothing else.”

8. The first feature-length animated film wasn’t actually Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

People dressed as the Seven Dwarfs.
Noam Galai/Getty Images for Disney

Again, this bucks against popular belief. Walt himself admitted that it “was not the first feature-length cartoon by 20 years.” Snow White wasn’t even Disney’s first. The first Disney animated “movie” was The Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons, a collection of several previously released shorts with new bridging narration that was released to build excitement for Snow White. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines an animated feature film as having a running time of “more than 40 minutes" [PDF]. The Academy Award Review clocks in at 41.

9. Toy Story's status as the first 100 percent computer-animated movie is in question.

A lineup of Toy Story action figures.
Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

While 1995's Toy Story is often credited as the first 100 percent computer-animated movie, some film buffs disagree; they claim the 1996 Brazilian movie Cassiopeia was first. Cassiopeia was released after Toy Story, but because Pixar had used clay models and scanned them in with lasers, not everything in Toy Story was 100 percent computer generated. Some consider this cheating.

10. Disney didn't invent the word Imagineer.

A sign at the Disneyland Resort.
Rich Fury/Getty Images

While today, the word Imagineer is associated with Disney, it was actually coined by aluminum manufacturer Alcoa in the 1940s.

11. The myth about lemmings is older than Disney.

An absolutely adorable lemming.
Tinieder/iStock via Getty Images

Disney widely gets the blame for starting the myth that lemmings commit mass suicide by running off of cliffs in the 1958 documentary White Wilderness. But the myth is actually much older; for instance, a 1908 issue of Century Path magazine claimed that “the most extraordinary thing is what takes place when [lemmings] reach the sea; for here, descending the cliffs, they plunge headlong into the water and swim as if for some promised Eldorado, with the result that all perish.”

Disney’s not completely off the hook, though. The filmmakers did cart lemmings into Alberta, Canada, and threw them off a cliff to dramatize this event. (This isn't as odd as it sounds; even today, nature documentary-makers are known to cheat in order to get their ideas across.)

12. Scrooge McDuck has conflicting net worths.

A painting of Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck.
Sarah Fabian-Baddiel/Heritage Images/Getty Images

How rich is Scrooge McDuck? The comics claimed “skyrillions” and “fantasticatillions” until an actual number was revealed in "The Menehune Mystery" story from Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge #4: $500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

For what it’s worth, Forbes estimates Scrooge’s wealth at only $65.4 billion.

13. Scrooge McDuck inspired a rock concept album.

Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish.
Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

In 2014, the songwriter/keyboardist behind the band Nightwish, Tuomas Holopainen, released Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge, a concept album based on Don Rosa’s Eisner Award-winning comic book story detailing how Scrooge made his money. It reached the top of the charts in Finland. And it's really good!

14. Flintheart got a nationality change for Ducktales.

Scrooge McDuck and David Tennant.
Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images

In the original Disney comics, Scrooge’s nemesis, Flintheart Glomgold, was South African. DuckTales decided to make him much more Scottish, presumably because at the time apartheid was still law in South Africa.

15. A "Donald Duck" showed up in the first issue of The Adventures of Mickey Mouse.

Walt Disney holding an early Donald Duck collectible.
Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images

One of the animals in the first hardback Disney book, The Adventures of Mickey Mouse (1931), was named Donald Duck. He's sporting green pants and looks exactly nothing like the Donald we know.

16. Donald Was the first core Disney character to appear in color.

Singer Gwen Stefani poses with Donald Duck
Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images

Donald wouldn’t officially debut until three years later in the short The Wise Little Hen. Because this was a Silly Symphony—the first color cartoons Disney produced—Donald was the first of the “Fab 5” (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto) to appear in color in a theatrically released short.

17. Donald's nephews got their start in print.

Steve Carrell and Donald Duck.
Larry Hack/Disney Parks via Getty Images

Donald’s nephews (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) first appeared in the comics, and then a few months later made their big screen debut. While the background of how they got to Donald are broadly similar, there are a couple big differences between the comic and the cartoon. In the comic, the boys' mother is named Della, which turned into Dumbella for the cartoon. The bigger change is that Della was Donald’s cousin while Dumbella was his sister.

18. Huey, Dewey, and Louie have another brother.

Jon Stewart posing with Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse.
Todd Anderson/Disney via Getty Images

Hold onto your sailor hats. Huey, Dewey, and Louie actually have a fourth brother, Phooey. Basically, in the comics sometimes the artists accidentally drew one too many nephews in a panel, so this unofficial fourth "brother" was born.

19. Disneyland is responsible for Doritos.

An early look at Disney World.
Keystone/Getty Images

One of the most successful things to come out of Disneyland has to be Doritos. In the early days of Disneyland, Casa de Fritos was a restaurant that served Tex-Mex and was associated with Fritos (and later Frito-Lay). The story is that the restaurant was getting in a shipment of tortillas when the salesman advised that instead of tossing unused tortillas away, they should cut them up and fry them. This new dish became an instant hit. Later, when a marketing executive of the newly formed Frito-Lay company was looking around, he noticed how popular these fried tortilla chips were and decided to put them into production as a new snack. Soon, Doritos were conquering supermarket shelves.

20. The Drawbridge at fantasyland can open.

An image of the opening of Fantasyland.
Kent Phillips/Disney Parks via Getty Images

And has done so on two occasions: Once on opening day and again after a major park redesign in 1983.

21. The voice of Alice came back for the new Fantasyland.

Kathryn Beaumont, the original voice of Alice from 'Alice in Wonderland.'
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

During the 1983 renovation of Fantasyland, Disney brought back the original voice of Alice, Kathryn Beaumont, to do the updated voiceover work for the attraction—more than 30 years after the movie came out.

22. Adding characters to the rides cleared up some confusion.

An actor playing Peter Pan at a Disney theme park.
Chloe Rice/Disney Parks via Getty Images

Another major change was the addition of characters to Fantasyland rides. In the original Peter Pan’s Flight, there was no Peter Pan because guests were supposed to be Peter. But this was so confusing for guests who wanted to see the titular hero that a figure was added in the renovation.

23. Walt broke some horses to make the King Arthur Carrousel the way he wanted.

A photo of Walt Disney.
Harry Shepherd/Fox Photos/Getty Images

The King Arthur Carrousel, which dates back to 1922 and was purchased from a Toronto amusement park, is one of the oldest attractions in Disneyland. But Walt wasn’t entirely pleased with what he bought—he wanted all the horses to be jumping. Any standing horse had its legs broken and reset. Hopefully not in front of the kids.

24. One Disneyland attraction is millions of years old.

A photo of Frontierland, a part of the Disney theme parks.
Keystone/Getty Images

The oldest attraction in Disneyland is the Petrified Tree in Frontierland, which is believed to be about 55 to 70 million years old. Walt procured the relic from a privately owned petrified forest in Colorado. Sadly, the story of it being a present to his wife, Lillian, is likely just that—a story. Walt probably intended it for a natural history exhibit, where he was planning to display rocks and minerals as well as sell Disney-branded minerals.

25. The Ice Capades rescued Disneyland's opening day parade.

The Disney Fab 5: Goofy, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Pluto.

Joel, via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

On opening day, Disney didn’t yet have character costumes for the parade, so the company borrowed some from the Ice Capades, which did Disney-related shows.

26. A movie about a casino manager was the first non-Disney movie made at Disneyland.

A photo from 'That Thing You Do!'
Getty Images / Handout

Tony Curtis’s 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962) was the first non-Disney movie filmed at Disneyland. That Thing You Do! (1996) also features a short section there, and the very-not-Disney horror film Escape From Tomorrow secretly filmed at Disney World (but Disney declined to take legal action).

27. The "STR" initials on Walt's tie stand for the Smoke Tree Ranch.

A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.
Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

On Partners, the famous statue of Walt and Mickey in several parks, Walt has "STR" on his tie. This stands for Smoke Tree Ranch, where Walt used to have a vacation home.

28. Walt didn't open a park in New Jersey because he couldn't control the weather.

A woman dressed as Mary Poppins holds a young girl's hand on a sunny day at Disneyland
smckenzie/iStock via Getty Images

In the late 1950s, Disney’s relationship with ABC (which had financed a large part of the original Disneyland) was falling apart, ultimately resulting in Disney’s Wonderful World of Color airing on NBC. As this was happening, the president of NBC decided that they wanted to get involved in a park and proposed a location in the New Jersey Meadows. According to Roy Disney, the proposal never went very far: “Walt gave the Meadows proposal a careful look, but he finally decided that there would have to be some method of controlling the weather—a vast dome or some such thing. When the financial backers looked into the cost of such an undertaking they lost their courage pretty fast.”

29. It's not clear why a park didn't get built in St. Louis.

A look at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Alex Menendez/Getty Images

After the New Jersey failure, Disney decided to look into St. Louis for the “Riverfront Square” park (which was actually going to be entirely indoors). The company created blueprints and was ready to go until something happened and Disney canceled it in 1965. It’s unclear why the project didn’t go forward, but the most common explanation is that the Busch family insisted it sell beer, and Disney refused. Still, many Disney historians think that the beer issue had been worked out fairly quickly, and that the real cause was St. Louis’s refusal to help pay for construction.

30. Disney had to negotiate mineral rights to build in Orlando.

Photos of the original Epcot plans.
Central Press/Getty Images

The canceled St. Louis project might also have something to do with the fact that on November 15, 1965, Walt announced that he had purchased a huge area of land near Orlando, Florida. There were a couple of issues with buying the land in Florida, chief among them the mineral rights. Under American law, a land owner is allowed to separate out the surface rights from the mineral rights for the same plot of land and sell them separately. Tufts University used to own large areas of Central Florida, but retained the mineral rights when they sold the surface rights. This meant, in theory, they could come in and dig up any building in the area to get at underlying resources. Thankfully, Disney found this out and was able to negotiate a sale for $15,000.

31. Walt also abandoned a large Frontierland in Virginia.

The entrance to a Disney park featuring giant letters that spell California.
travelview/iStock via Getty Images

In 1993, Disney announced Disney’s America, a new park in Virginia. The idea was basically a giant Frontierland that tracked American history from the Colonial Era through the Civil War and into World War II. Less than a year after the announcement, protests and concern about the proximity to the Manassas Battlefield  (at only 3.5 miles away, the National Park Service was worried the site would be threatened by the development around the battlefield) forced the abandonment of the idea. Several of the proposed ideas moved to California Adventure when it opened in 2001, such as the whitewater raft ride (Grizzly River Run), Paradise Pier, and the original Condor Flats.

32. Environmentalism and the Supreme Court quashed a Disney ski resort.

People skiing down a mountain.
Gordy Colonna/iStock via Getty Images

In the 1960s, the Mineral King area of the Sequoia National Forest was opened to private recreational development for a new ski resort. Walt Disney Enterprises decided to put in a bid and won. They were going to build a destination that could be used for skiing in the winter and other outdoor pursuits in the summer. But soon after the announcement, environmentalists turned on the idea and lawsuits relating to the project went all the way to the Supreme Court. Eventually, the area was added to Sequoia National Park, ending all plans of development. Probably the most famous thing to come out of this was a show Disney had planned for the development called Country Bear Jamboree.

33. New Mexico Almost Got a Disney Park, Too.

A sign depicting a UFO grabbing a cow in New Mexico.
StellaMc/iStock via Getty Images Plus

While Mineral King was being held up in courts, the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce offered Sandia Peak to Disney, who seriously considered it. Ultimately, the company concluded that the weather wasn't right. 

34. Europe and the United States have different ideas about what makes a Disney Classic.

Photos from the premiere of the Disney movie 'Dinosaur.'
Chris Weeks/Liaison/Getty Images

Any Disney fan can name the Disney Animated Classics (the canon distinction for the company's feature-length animated movies), but a European and American would have different lists. In the UKThe Wild is included as a Classic but not 2000's Dinosaur. In the States, that's flip-flopped. 

35. Disney dominates the list of highest-grossing G-rated movies.

Tim Allen and Tom Hanks at the Toy Story 3 premiere.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

All 10 of the highest grossing G movies are either Disney or Pixar (which is owned by Disney), and of the top 15, only Gone With the Wind interrupts Disney’s streak. But not everyone appreciates the family friendliness of these movies; English children were required to bring a parent along to see Snow White because it was deemed too scary.

36. Walt knew Snow White's initial budget was far too low.

People dressed as Snow White's dwarfs.
Ryan Wendler/Disney Parks via Getty Images

It’s actually kind of amazing that Snow White was created at all. Walt originally budgeted $250,000 for the movie (around $4 million today), but he knew that this was a wild understatement, later saying, “we were spending about that much on every three Symphonies. Walt estimated that it ultimately cost around $2 million.

37. Roy Disney Hated Debt.

A photo of Space Mountain in Disney World.
Central Press/Getty Images

One person who didn’t take this budget increase well was Walt’s brother, Roy. According to Walt, “Roy was very brave and manly until the costs passed $1 million. He wasn’t used to figures of over $100,000 at that time. The extra cipher threw him. When costs passed the one and one-half million mark, Roy didn’t even bat an eye. He couldn’t; he was paralyzed.” (Roy hated debt. After Walt’s death, Roy took it upon himself to go through with the Disney World project by building an East Coast Disneyland. Through creative financing methods, he was able to build Magic Kingdom virtually debt-free.)

38. The price tag for Snow White and the seven Dwarfs wouldn't matter if it wasn't good.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

During the filming of Snow White, Walt was very clear that no matter how much was spent on the movie, if the final product wasn’t up to his standards, it would be destroyed.

39. Fortunately, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a massive success.

Snow White and Dopey.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

It was a good gamble though, because Snow White became the then-highest grossing film of all time. Sadly, Disney’s next movie, Pinocchio, failed to do as well. Walt commented that it was actually the second highest grossing film of the year (after Gone With the Wind, which had been released in December of the previous year). But due to soaring costs ($3 million) and World War II removing most of their markets, Disney failed to recoup their investment in the original release.

40. some of your favorite disney movies were initially failures.

Walt Disney Reading Alice in Wonderland.
Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Other Disney films from this time that failed to turn a profit on their initial releases included Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, and Fantasia.

41. Dumbo was supposed to be on the cover of Time in December 1941.

Minnie Mouse on a Dumbo ride.
Gene Duncan/Disney via Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, it was kicked off the cover following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

42. Audiences love non-disney movies when they think Disney made them.

The Disney logo.
John Keeble/Getty Images

In 1994, Warner Bros. did test screenings of their new animated movie, Thumbelina. The audience reaction was so-so—but when they replaced the WB logo with Disney’s in test screenings, audience scores skyrocketed.

43. Animators Made Captain Hook a Righty.

Captain Hook in the Magic Kingdom.
Todd Anderson/Disney Parks via Getty Images

In the original Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie wrote that “[Captain Hook] has an iron hook instead of a right hand,” but in the cartoon, Captain Hook has the hook on his left hand. This was because the animators wanted him to be able to write and do other activities with his right hand since it was simpler to draw.

44. Pluto was briefly "Rover."

Paul McCartney hanging out with Pluto.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Pluto was introduced in 1930 in The Chain Gang as a bloodhound. In The Picnic, he was introduced as Minnie's dog Rover, and then became Mickey's in 1931’s The Moose Hunt.

45. Disney's first named animated character was a cat.

Disney's Oswald.
Victor Chavez/Getty Images

Julius the Cat appeared in 1924. The next year, Pete was introduced. Originally a bear in the Alice Comedies (a collection of cartoons that featured animated characters interacting with a live-action girl), Pegleg Pete would go on to fight Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and then, after a species change, became a cat who first appeared as Mickey’s antagonist in Steamboat Willie. Ninety years after debuting, Pete is still one of Disney’s main villains.

46. Steamboat Willie premiered before a violent mob movie.

Mickey Mouse as Steamboat Willie.
Victor Chavez/Getty Images

In 1928, Steamboat Willie opened at New York's Colony Theater before the movie Gang War, a completely forgotten (and violent) mob movie. But that's not Gang War's only Disney connection: Some of the music for the movie was written by Al Sherman, father of the Sherman Brothers, who did the music for Mary Poppins and many other Disney projects.

47. Walt considered Mickey an actor playing the role of "Willie."

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Why was Mickey called Willie? The short version is that it’s a reference to Steamboat Bill, Jr., which was both a popular song and a recently released Buster Keaton movie (but Willie was not, as many people claim, a parody; there’s almost no connection between the two).

Walt didn't call the film Steamboat Mickey because he felt that Mickey Mouse was an actor, not a character. In the same way that Bogart played the role of Rick in Casablanca, Mickey Mouse is playing the character of Steamboat Willie for the short.

48. Mickey Has two different birthdays.

Mickey Mouse surveying the crowd while inside a protective bubble.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

For the first several decades of Mickey’s existence, his birthday was celebrated September 30, the date the soundtrack for Steamboat Willie was recorded. It wasn’t until later that Steamboat Willie’s release date of November 18 was chosen as the character's birthday.

49. One audience got to see Mickey six months before Steamboat Willie.

A very old piece of Mickey Mouse merchandise.
Imagno/Getty Images

There’s a debate about when Mickey debuted. On May 15, 1928—six months before Steamboat Willie—Walt showed a then-silent Plane Crazy, which stars Mickey as a wannabe Charles Lindbergh, to a test audience in an attempt to get a distributor. He didn’t get one, so most Disney fans agree the real birthday is the wide release debut.

50. Plane Crazy was made in secret in two weeks.

A vintage Mickey Mouse movie poster.
Online USA/Getty Images

The animation of Plane Crazy was a remarkable feat in and of itself. Walt had just been robbed of his Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons by his distributor, and many of his animators were about to leave with Oswald. But there were still three Oswald cartoons left on the Disney contract before most of the animators left. So while the soon-to-leave animators were finishing those up, Disney legend Ub Iwerks worked in secret (supposedly with Oswald drawings on hand if an unexpected visitor arrived) and single-handedly animated all of Plane Crazy in two weeks, producing 700 drawings a day.

51. Cartoons weren't the moneymaker early on.

The sign at Disneyland.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Despite Mickey’s great success, Disney never made much money off of the cartoons. According to a 1934 article in The New York Times, one of the original Mickey Mouse cartoons only just came out of the red, about six years later. Even Three Little Pigs, which the same article says was “the most successful short subject produced by any studio,” grossed $64,000 (it cost $60,000 to make). From day one, Disney made most of its money from merchandising.

52. Mickey and Minnie also have nephews.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Donald may get all the nephew credit, but Mickey and Minnie each have nephews and nieces, respectively. Mickey’s nephews are Morty and Ferdie, and Minnie’s nieces are Millie and Melody. Daisy Duck has nieces as well: April, May, and June.

53. The WWII-era Food Will Win the War is a masterclass in mixed measures.

Alter_photo/iStock via Getty Images Plus

The 1942 short Food Will Win the War (about American food production) is a masterclass in mixed units (using as many units as possible). For instance, “Milk! 125 billion pounds of it. If all this flowed over Niagara Falls in a steady stream, it would generate enough electricity to light every factory in New York for one month.” In case you ever needed to know how to measure electricity in milk.

54. Phil Simms was the first Super Bowl MVP to say, "I'm going to Disney World.”

Phil Simms playing quarterback for the New York Giants.
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

He was actually instructed to say Disney World and Disneyland three times each; he got $50,000 (and a free vacation) for his troubles.

55. "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" was a huge hit.

A Davy Crockett button.
Blank Archives/Getty Images

The theme song to the miniseries Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier was a big winner in its own right, spending several weeks at number one on the Hit Parade and selling 7 million copies in six months. But its origins are a bit more practical: It was written because the show was running short.

56. The nation's Davy Crockett obsession made one store give away thousands of tents.

Young boys dressed as Davy Crockett.
Harry Kerr/BIPs/Getty Images)

Davy Crockett mania reached such a fever pitch that one department store advertised that with every major appliance sold, they’d give away a free Davy Crockett play tent. They were inundated with orders and estimated they’d give away 35,000 tents during the promotion.

57. WALL-E isn't a reference to Walt.

A photo of Disney's Wall-E.
John M. Heller/Getty Images

It’s a myth (albeit a pervasive one) that the name WALL-E is an homage to Walter Elias Disney. According to Pixar, “Nope. Sorr-e.” WALL-E just means Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-Class.

Watch John Krasinski Interview Steve Carell About The Office's 15th Anniversary

John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
NBC Universal, Inc.

The Office just passed a major milestone: It has been 15 years since the American adaptation of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's hit British sitcom made its way to NBC, where it ran for nine seasons. To celebrate the show's big anniversary, former co-stars John Krasinski and Steve Carell reunited in the best way possible: Carell appeared as a guest on Krasinski's new YouTube show, where the two decided to spread some positivity.

Krasinski just launched his very own news show titled Some Good News, and it's exactly what we've all been needing. During this segment, he interviewed Carell via video call, and the two shared their favorite memories of working on the beloved workplace comedy.

"It's such a happy surprise," Carell said of The Office's continued success. "After all these years people are still tuning in and finding it." The two also addressed the question that's been on every fan's mind: is there a chance that we'll see the Dunder Mifflin crew reunite in some way?

"Listen, I know everyone's talking about a reunion," Krasinski said. "Hopefully one day we'll just all get to reunite as people."

You can watch the full episode below. (Carell joins the video around the 5:50 minute mark.)