After being the recipient of relentless negative press and public criticism in response to their handling of the Columbia Ship and Roger Rabbit accidents, Disney took appropriate steps to regain public trust and reinstate their renowned magical image. This case study will provide evidence that Disney employed a significant transformation in their approach to the public and to the media in the most recent accident on Big Thunder Mountain. Prior to that occurrence, however, Disney achieved the strongest impact on their audience by implementing their first-ever public safety campaign. This case study will solidify that the public relations campaign Disney ran was deliberate, creative, clearly defined and well executed. It will verify the measures Disney implemented to show their audience that they were listening, and that they cared. Finally, this case study will document that by implementing the public relations principles prescribed by Arthur W. Page, Disneyland was able to reposition their reputation so they could properly handle the terrible tragedy at Big Thunder Mountain. Disneyland Walter Elias Disney was a man of tenacious conviction. Having no more than a tenth grade education, Walt’s amazing talent extended well beyond his ability to draw animation. Walt Disney’s true gift was his heart to entertain and his passion to inspire. Walt created the first animated film, entitled Steamboat Willie, which featured the most recognized character in the world today, Mickey Mouse. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfswas not only Walt’s first, but the industry’s first feature-length cartoon. In the 1950s and 1960s, Walt Disney continued to produce major films for television and theatre. Legendary creations such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, as well as live-action production films such as Treasure Islandand Mary Poppinswere only a few, among a long list of accomplishments. During his career as a filmmaker, Walt Disney received 26 Academy Awards. (3) On July 17,1955, despite the hefty price tag of $17 million, Walt Disney followed his heart and opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California. He once said, “I think what I want Disneyland to be most of all is a happy place – where adults and children can experience together some of the wonders of life, of adventure, and feel better because of it.” (4) Deemed the “Happiest Place On Earth”, Disneyland is open 365 days a year. Employing 21,000 cast members, offering more than 60 rides and attractions, Disneyland has welcomed more than 450 million visitors since it’s historic opening 48 years ago. (5)2
On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died.(6)Walt Disney’s dream and determination made an impact on the world in ways he never lived to realize. The Company Today Walter Elias Disney’s dream, remembered as a beloved production of memorable movies and creation of Disneyland, is identified today as, The Walt Disney Company; a diversified worldwide entertainment organization and currently the #2 media conglomerate in the world.