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Walt Disney and His Connection to Latin America

To understand the magical world of Disney, just explore the vision and dreams of a genius whose creativity, curiosity, talent, perseverance, and endless imagination changed the world of entertainment forever.

Walt Elias Disney was born in Chicago on December 5, 1901. He demonstrated his talent from a very young age by making cartoons, which he began selling to earn a little money. In his teens, he discovered his passion for cinema.

In 1923, together with his brother Roy O. Disney, they began to produce cartoons and later created one of the most famous animated characters in history, Mickey Mouse. During a visit to South America, this pioneer of animated films fell in love with Latin American culture. This visit sparked his creativity even more.

      

In 1941, on the eve of the United States’ entry into World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt sent Disney with 16 of his artists to Latin America to curb the influence of the Nazis and fascists on this continent. For Roosevelt, Disney embodied the American capitalist spirit. This mission led Walt and his artists to visit Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. During their adventure through all these Latin American countries, they met many local artists and learned about the folklore of the regions they visited. The group explored and searched for songs, places, dances, and personalities for their animations. From his experience, the character of José Carioca, a Brazilian parrot, was created. The adventure led to countless animations for movies and shorts with characters based on Latin American culture. Some examples were “Saludos Amigos” and “The Three Caballeros,” among others.

Did you know that Disney World could have ended up in New Orleans?

Disney had also eyed the Big Easy as a possible theme park location, and even began purchasing property in New Orleans, but ultimately chose Orlando after politicians in Louisiana demanded too much.

Today, Disney has countless movies inspired by Latin American countries, making Latinos everywhere proud to see their culture represented on the big screen. Films such as “Coco” (Mexico), “Up” (Venezuela), “The Emperor’s New Groove” (Peru), and, the most recent, “Encanto” (Colombia), released in November 2021, magically represent cultures that transport viewers to these places without having to leave home.

 

Cinderella Castle
Cinderella Castle at WDW. Photo Rebecca Green

The vision of this dreamer went beyond his animated films. That is why he created the Disney theme park in California for people of all ages to “enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” After Walt Disney’s death, the Walt Disney World theme park in Florida was born with the same vision of entertaining and making dreams come true for all who visit the park. In 2021, Walt Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary.

 

Even as the business leader is no longer with us, his vision continues today thanks to the countless “imagineers” who create and bring the Disney magic to many homes, regardless of geographical location or language.

 

Everything Walt Disney represents is reflected within its parks and in its films that make us dream, laugh, and cry with their inspiring messages.


VIVA NOLA December 2021-January 2022 You can support VIVA NOLA’s mission of connecting communities by donating here. Your support, in any amount, is very appreciated.
Ana Garcia

Intern

Ecuador

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