Walt Disney and his brother Roy started Disney Brothers Studio in Hollywood, California in 1923. Walt directed the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy in 1928 the third, Steamboat Willie, was the first cartoon with a soundtrack. The studio produced its first animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1973. Walt Disney Productions went public in 1940 and later produced classic such as Fantasia and Pinocchio. The Disneyland theme park opened in 1955 near Los Angeles.
Roy Disney became chairman after Walt died of lung cancer in 1966. Disney World opened in Florida in 1971, the year Roy died. His son, Roy E., became president in 1980. Two years later, Epcot Center opened in Florida. In 1984, the Bass family of Texas in alliance with Roy E. bought a controlling interest in the company. New CEO Michael Eisner from Paramount and President Frank Wells from Warner Bros. were appointed. The company later launched The Disney Channel and opened new theme parks, including Tokyo Disneyland and Disney-MGM Studios. In 1986 the company changed its name to The Walt Disney Company. Disneyland Paris originally Euro Disney opened in 1992.
Following well’s death in a helicopter crash in 1994, boardroom infighting led to the acrimonious departure of studios head Jeffry Katzenberg. He was awarded US$ 250 million in compensation in 1999. The next year, Eisner appointed Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz as president. Ovitz left after 16 months with a severance package of more than US$ 100 million. This decision would come back to haunt Eisner later.
Disney bought Capital Cities now ABC Inc. for US$ 19 billion in 1996. Two years later, it bought Web services firm Starwave from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Disney later acquired 43 percent of internet search InfoSec for US$ 70 million and together they launched the GO Network in 1999. Disney bought the remaining 57 percent if InfoSec later that year and formed GO.com now Walt Disney Internet Group which began trading as a separate tracking stock.
In early 2000, ABC chairman Robert Iger was named Disney's president and COO and heir apparent to Eisner. Later that year, Time Warner Cable briefly suspended ABC broadcast during a dispute over rebroadcasting rights drawing the ire of some 3.5 million cable customers. The FCC later ruled that Time Warner had violated rules against dropping a station from cable systems during sweeps periods.
In 2001, Disney expanded its theme park in Anaheim, opening Downtown Disney and Disney's California Adventure. It also announced a further restructure of its internet business. Disney closed the GO.com search site and converted its Internet tracking stock back into Disney common stock. That year Disney formed a joint venture with Wenner Media US Weekly LLC and took a 50 percent stake in entertainment magazine US Weekly. Later Disney bought Fox Family Channel, which is renamed ABC Family from News Corp. and Haim Saban for US$ 2.9 billion in cash and assumption of US$ 2.3 billion in debt.
In 2003, Disney began its exit from the sport businesses by selling the Anaheim Angles. As 2003 drew to a close, Eisner faced criticism from some board members and investors. Eisner's performance and his past decisions came for critical examination. Disney's corporate governance practice came in for sharp criticism. Taking advantage of the stake of affairs, America's leading cable operator, Comcast announced a hostile bit to take over Disney.