No brand on the planet has a better perception than Disney. Since Walt Disney created Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie, his company has strived to bring more good into the world. The Walt Disney Company has carried the torch for many years after the death of its founder, oftentimes exceeding his philanthropic contributions. Let’s highlight a few of the best examples of Disney philanthropy to make you feel good about the company that you love.

The war effort

Image: DisneyWorld War II was one of the grimmest times in the history of civilization. Walt Disney wanted to do his part to help the troops. Alas, his age was a problem yet again. Disney had been too young to enlist officially in World War I, instead joining the Red Cross as an ambulance driver (where one of the other drivers was Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s). By the time America was ready to participate in World War II, Uncle Walt was in his 40s and impractically suited for combat.

Government officials liaised with Disney about the best way to utilize his celebrity and influence. Ever the illustrator, Disney and his team freely gave of their time and abilities, crafting war films to support the Allied effort. Uncle Walt felt so strongly about the situation that the company devoted more than 90 percent of its resources toward the “production of training and propaganda films.”

Videos like The New Spirit  and The Spirit of ‘43 informed Americans of how their efforts could impact the war. Uncle Sam appreciated the dutiful service, too. They deployed troops to protect the animated studio, making it the only Hollywood group to receive such protection. While you may dismiss Disney’s importance in the war effort, the American military and many war historians consider their service invaluable to the cause.

The UNICEF connection

Image: DisneyOne Disney seminal attraction exists primarily because of Disney’s philanthropic nature. When Joan Crawford contacted Uncle Walt on behalf of Pepsi’s board of directors, the animator was instantly inspired. He envisioned a little boat ride that would celebrate all of the cultures of the world. You know the attraction as It’s a Small World.

Do you know how much Disney earned for the attraction? Here’s some math for you. Each adult guest at the 1964 New York World’s Fair paid 95 cents for a ride; children paid 60 cents. And It’s a Small World was one of the five most popular rides at the entire fair, with some analysts speculating it was THE biggest seller. It sounds like a wildly profitable endeavor, right?

Image: DisneyDisney didn’t make a dime from ride sales. Instead, they donated the entirety of their profits to UNICEF. With more than 10 million guests visiting It’s a Small World in 1964 and 1965, we’re talking about the equivalent of at least $60 million in donations in modern dollars. And Disney didn’t stop there. During the 50th anniversary of the attraction, the company donated $150,000 plus $1 for every It’s a Small World video uploaded on a promotional website. More than 50 years after the fact, Disney’s still contributing mightily to one of their favorite charities.


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