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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: What's In A Name?

With his dreams having outgrown the small parcel across the street from The Disney Studios and Disneylandia proving to be unfeasible, Walt Disney began seriously talking about building a theme park. His brother, who had to find the money for Walt's various dreams was very skeptical about this park. Amusement parks of the time were dingy, seedy and had bad reputations. Of course, Walt's park wouldn't be any of those things, but Roy was unwilling to risk the company on this venture. Undeterred, Walt setup his own company and began making plans for DISNEYLAND.

This caused problems with outside shareholders of Walt Disney Productions. As Walt began seeking his own financing, they were alarmed and urged Roy Disney to rein his brother in. After all, Walt Disney Productions owned all rights to the Disney name, didn't it? The answer surprised even Roy.

The first name used for the company was "The Disney Brothers Studio". Marketers at RKO, which distributed Disney's films, eventually convinced the brothers that the movies would be easier to sell to theaters if there was one personality associated with them. As the creative genius behind the films, it was Walt's name that went on the films.

As Roy discovered, however, no legal documents had been drawn up granting Walt Disney Productions the rights to Walt's name. There was nothing the company could do to stop Walt from using his name to build a theme park; as a matter of fact, he could order the company to stop using his name. This could cause problems for the company in the future if Walt and Roy had a falling out and Walt chose to exercise his rights. Roy had to fix this problem and settle the trademark issue once and for all.

Roy grudgingly agreed to help finance DISNEYLAND if Walt came to an agreement with the company about the continued use of his name. Overjoyed that his brother was finally onboard, Walt signed the trademark agreement and DISNEYLAND, Inc was formed as the legal entity that would own and operate DISNEYLAND Park.

To manage his name and business interests, Walt Disney setup his own company with a name that is near and dear to this website- Retlaw Enterprises. Retlaw would own the DISNEYLAND Railroad, the DISNEYLAND Fire Station and the DISNEYLAND Monorail.

With the trademark issue resolved and Roy onboard with the idea of his brother's Magic Kingdom, the road to DISNEYLAND was clear. Or at least, clearer than before.