Walt Disney’s Name Was Sold For $42 Million
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Walt Disney’s Name Was Sold For $42 Million

August 20, 2019


The Walt Disney Company was formed almost
100 years ago and in that time since it has become an entertainment behemoth that has
undoubtedly changed the face of American media and culture. With an impact like that you could say that
the Walt Disney name is priceless. Except there was a price, and Disney paid
it. As much as we all love Disneyland today, the
idea wasn’t always widely accepted. When Walt tried to originally purchase land
for a Disney themed amusement park in the early 1950s, Disney stockholders sued to stop
the purchase and won. They felt that Walt Disney Productions was
in the film and animation industry, not the amusement park industry. To buy land for an amusement park would be
a misuse of company money. Walt argued that they were in the entertainment
industry, and that Disneyland would be a “totally new concept in entertainment.” So to avoid letting shareholders block his
plans again and seeking the funding he would need for this Disneyland, Walt formed a new
separate company to be named Walt Disney Incorporated. However fearing that it would be too confusing
what with Walt Disney Productions existing, Roy Disney and Disney’s lawyers urged him
to change the name. Instead he would use his initials and so on
December 16th, 1952 he formed WED Enterprises. Now today we largely remember WED for their
work on some of the most memorable theme park attractions in the world. However there was also a “personal services”
branch of the company, and it would be not only the key to WED working, but a source
of tension between Walt and Roy for years. You see, Walt granted WED his own naming rights,
and in turn WED licensed the Walt Disney name to Walt Disney Productions for a 10% royalty
of all merch, and up to a 15% share of every Disney project that he chose to invest in,
which happened pretty often. Walt argued that this move would ultimately
be a good one for everyone involved. Walt would get the funding for his Disneyland
project, without having to worry about Disney Production shareholders. He would also secure a financial future for
his family after he was gone. In return, with WED licensing Walt’s name,
it would ensure that Walt Disney Productions would be able to continue to use the name
long after he died, without the mess of estate rights and stuff like that. Roy however was not pleased. With the ownership of WED being split between
Walt and his two daughters, Walt and his immediate family were now about to financially benefit
from the Disney name in a way Roy and his family couldn’t. Beyond that there was a question as to whether
the move was ethical. The formation of the company was only approved
by the Walt Disney Productions board of directors, and so none of the company’s shareholders
had any say in the costly fees Disney would now have to start paying Walt. As most of us know, WED would go on to develop
Disneyland, and despite a rocky opening day the theme park would go on to be massive success
and change the amusement park industry forever. That success is why, in 1963, Walt Disney
Productions felt it was time to revisit the Disney/WED deal. With the company growing there was more risk
than ever that a shareholder would sue the company over the questionable formation of
WED Enterprises. The negotiations lasted over a year and oftentimes
got heated. On February 5th, 1965 however, Walt Disney
Productions would buy the design and architecture portion of WED Enterprises. Walt would get a ten year extension on ownership
of the Disneyland Railroad and Monorail, and he would also get to keep his naming royalty
contract. Since Walt Disney Productions now owned WED
Enterprises, the remaining business dealings would operate under a new name: Retlaw Enterprises,
which was Walter spelled backwards. WED would continue to operate at Walt Disney
Productions until 1986 when it was renamed to its current name: Walt Disney Imagineering. The deal would remain for the following seventeen
years, and in early 1982 Retlaw Enterprises, at that point owned by Walt’s wife, Lillian,
and their two daughters Diane and Sharon, would sell Walt’s naming rights and rights to
the Disneyland Railroad and Monorail to The Walt Disney Company. The price? 818,461 shares of Disney stock, which at the
time were worth $42.6 million. Today those shares, after three splits, would
be worth over $1.1 billion. Retlaw would actually continue to operate
through the 80s, 90s and early 00’s. While their ties to the Disney company were
severed, the company had purchased numerous television stations and pieces of real estate
over the years. In 1999 Retlaw sold it’s television stations,
and in 2005 what was left of Retlaw Enterprises was folded into the Walt Disney Family Foundation. Retlaw is an often overlooked piece of Disney’s
history, but it’s an important one. It was the foundation upon which Disneyland
was built, it both caused a rift within his family and secured it’s financial future
at the same time, and it even put a price on the Walt Disney name. If you liked this video and want to know more
about WED and Retlaw and the feud between Walt and Roy during those years, I highly
suggest checking out Roy Disney’s biography, “Building a Company”, by Bob Thomas. You can find a link to it in the description
below. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next
time.

51 Comments

  • Reply Ayden Behn January 17, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    NOTIF SQUADDD YAYYYYY

  • Reply jada hodges January 17, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Early squad . If I could meet anyone ever I would meet Walt Disney.

  • Reply WindowsWhelider January 17, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Notification squad ASSEMBLE

  • Reply ppom January 17, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    cool lol

  • Reply Tina Marie January 17, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Pretty fascinating

  • Reply Daryl-Rhys Taylor January 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    A forgotten but very important piece of information

  • Reply brady lanham January 17, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Early squad鳶鳶 Love your videos rob!

  • Reply trickycrayon January 17, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Lmfao we're at "notification squad" level on these now? Ok ok here I am fine.

  • Reply DG _E January 17, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Awesome analysis as always Rob!!

  • Reply Rebecca Etchells January 17, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Love the video Rob Youre so close to 50k now!!

  • Reply Adam Ferry January 17, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Hey Rob! I just came back from going to the Walt Disney family museum in San Fransisco! Thanks for recommending it! Such a wonderful experience! I loved when you go up the elevator that's designed to look like the inside of a train car and then come out in Hollywood! Very well put together! I wish I had a few more hours in there.

  • Reply Andy Hirth January 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Yep, Walt Disney should've had an appearance.

  • Reply Flyswatter Network January 17, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    These business videos are my favourite!

  • Reply Brandon January 17, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Do a video on Tomorrowland please !

  • Reply Alix T. January 17, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Your videos are always so interesting!
    Question – How did you get into Disney history?

  • Reply Henry Sheffield January 17, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Mcmagic

  • Reply BRODNATION January 17, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Notification squad where you at

  • Reply Daniel Lewis January 17, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    As a history lover and a Disney fanatic your videos are my favorite ones on YouTube. Awesome job man.

  • Reply CubeSwitch January 17, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    WOW, last time i watched your videos you had 14k subs. Now you are close to 50k, now job man!

  • Reply Expedition Theme Park January 17, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Great video again Rob.

  • Reply Misscoolfinds January 17, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Great video Rob! Very informative. I learned some things i did not know. I love these types of videos. Thank you.

  • Reply ellurhie January 17, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    i'm sick
    please reply it will make my day c:

  • Reply Zultar1610 January 17, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    cool video

  • Reply wannabesuperboy January 17, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    what in the world is the thing in front of the disney infinity box

  • Reply Comrade6079 January 17, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    Fantastic video! I'd actually love to see a video on the bad opening day that Disneyland had. You keep mentioning it, and I don't wanna look into it on my own because you always have such great insight and add a lot of color to all of your topics. But, again, loved the video (and all your videos for that matter).

  • Reply Lion January 17, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    What is the background song?

  • Reply Norah S. January 17, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    Rob, please make merch, if you can, because I really like your content and I think that some t-shirts would be so cool!

  • Reply Austin Arvidson January 17, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Excited for the 50k video!

  • Reply michael taylor January 18, 2018 at 12:24 am

    I always found this fascinating. Lawyers?!? Walt also had Lilly (his wife sign a contract) about HIS railroad running around HIS estate in Hombly Hills. CA. The fact that Walt also owned and operated the DL Railroad, Mark Twain steamboat & Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room showed how much Walt had a passion in what he loved and believed in. That is why to this day, steam still runs in many of his themed parks. When Uncle Walt was @ DL and the RR. engineer got the "shoulder tap" it meant Walt was going to take the engine around. Gosh! I'd love to have been a passenger on the train day trip. LOL

  • Reply Joey Stew January 18, 2018 at 12:31 am

    REALLY enjoy all your videos. Content is always top notch. Thanks for doing the research and sharing knowledge!

  • Reply TheWyman55 January 18, 2018 at 1:19 am

    I like reading the description along with the intro

  • Reply Hector Hernandez January 18, 2018 at 1:24 am

    Isn't '42' the answer to life, the universe and everything?

  • Reply Tim Krajewski January 18, 2018 at 1:59 am

    Awesome video

  • Reply Tetroy 64 January 18, 2018 at 2:17 am

    I never heard of Retlaw so this video was amazing! Great job

  • Reply Ninja Master January 18, 2018 at 4:01 am

    What's unfair now is, that some big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Snapchat 1 or 2 founders hold all voting rights and totally control the entire company.

    No company could even come buy them out.

    It's sad to have so much power in just a few people hands.

  • Reply Mark Way Up January 18, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    wow, more great research – good job – man, you must do so much reading Rob – and you must have a separate house just to hold all the books you read! thanks again!

  • Reply Patty Porto January 18, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Hey Rob, could you make a video explaning the history of Figment? My friends and family always ask me about him when they visit epcot and I'd like to have a simple and well explined video to direct them to

  • Reply corey riggs January 18, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Hey Rob, can you make a video talking about the construction companies that Disney contractes to build in the parks. (More specifically in Walt Disney World).

  • Reply PCoop23 January 19, 2018 at 5:24 am

    You should make a video on the Magic Kingdom parade history and why we no longer have one. And possibly when we will get one again.

  • Reply Rachel M January 19, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Rob, Ive stared at your bookshelves video after video and Im so curious! What is your favorite non-fiction book on Disney that you love or would recommend the most? 歹

  • Reply lohphat January 19, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    It may be interesting to a video just on Retlaw. When I was a cast member, Retlaw owned and operated the monorail, trains, and parking lot. Those cast members were paid via separate checks and had different time cards.

    Yes, back in the day we had cardboard time cards.

  • Reply ACfairgrounds January 19, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    You learn something new everyday

  • Reply Ryan 1971 January 19, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Rob, what happened to extra life?

  • Reply Vintage Disneyland Tickets February 15, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    Great informative video, thank you! When the Tiki Room opened in 1963 at Disneyland it had separate tickets from the rest of the attractions, something about Walt owning it separate from "Disneyland", seeing your video reminded me of the little fact. Here's a post I did a while back about it… http://vintagedisneylandtickets.blogspot.com/2008/06/tiki-room-vintage-tickets-and-music.html

  • Reply vikingshelm February 17, 2018 at 3:38 am

    Love your stuff Rob!!

  • Reply Scott Derail March 19, 2018 at 1:14 am

    I was wondering when the RR was sold to Disney.

  • Reply C CM May 24, 2018 at 12:44 am

    I'm gonna need a whiteboard to understand this video.

  • Reply Matthew and Brianna's #2 Channel June 25, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    845 like!!!!!

  • Reply Jay Raphael Jiao Inot August 1, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Where did you get all of your Disney informations?

  • Reply Jay Raphael Jiao Inot August 1, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Disney Imaginer sounds better compared to RETLAW/WED Enterprises

  • Reply Mike R August 13, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    How do you find out this stuff?

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