1. Walt Disney began developing his skills as a cartoonist as a young kid. Stuck on a farm in Missouri, he didn't have many subjects, but delighted in drawing cartoon pictures of his neighbor's horses.
  2. Disney's French family name was originally D'Isigny before being Anglicized to Disney.
  3. Disney dropped out of high school at age 16 in hopes of joining the Army. He was rejected for being underage, but was able to get a job as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross in France.
  4. Disney's very first animation studio was Laugh-O-Gram, where he began telling modernized fairy tales based on Aesop's Fables (a trend Disney continued) before the studio quickly went bankrupt (good thing he didn't quit back then!).
  5. Mickey Mouse wasn't Disney's first iconic character--Mickey's predecessor, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, was created while Disney was under contract with Universal Pictures. When he left, Oswald was barred from joining him, leading Disney to make a new companion--everyone's favorite mouse.
  6. Mickey Mouse was originally named Mortimer Mouse, but Disney's wife said the name Mortimer sounded too pompous, convincing Disney to change the adorable rodent's name to Mickey. The name Mortimer was instead given to Mickey's rival mouse in later episodes.
  7. From 1928 (the birth of Mickey Mouse) until 1947, Disney himself did the voice of Mickey.
  8. Disney was hell-bent on creating a feature-length animated Snow White film, despite everyone else's doubt. Some in Hollywood even referred to the project as "Disney's folly." They were the real fools though--Snow White earned more than $8 million during its original release, which would be equal to about $130 million today.
  9. Disney was good pals with Uncle Sam, producing animated war propaganda films and training videos for the United States military.
  10. Disney also created custom cartoon insignia for U.S. troops, which were used to boost morale.
  11. Disney helped fan the flames of the 1940s Red Scare. He was a founder of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of Americans Ideals, accusing workers on strike of communist plots, testifying against labor organizers, and icing out rumored communists of Hollywood.
  12. Disney was a pioneer for children's television entertainment, airing unique programming for kids such as Zorro, Davy Crockett, and The Mickey Mouse Club.
  13. Disney received more Academy Awards and nominations than has anyone else. Between 1932 and 1969, he won 22 Academy Awards and was nominated 59 times, postmortemly rubbing salt in the wounds of Leonardo DiCaprio.
  14. At the 1938 Oscars, Disney was presented with one normal-size statuette and seven miniature ones for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
  15. Disney held the patent for Technicolor for two years, making him the only animator allowed to make color animated films!
  16. Rumored to be anti-Semitic, Disney attended meetings of the German American Bund in the 1930s, a pro-Nazi organization. He also hosted known Nazi propagandist and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, giving her a tour of the Disney studios. Despite this, others claim rumors of Disney's anti-Semitism to be false.
  17. Disney's favorite character was Goofy (I personally prefer Pluto, although it is strange how they are both officially dogs).
  18. Disney films are famous for their absentee mothers, from Pinocchio to The Jungle Book. Many believe this trend was the result of Disney's guilt and anguish over his own mother's death. After the success of Snow White, Disney purchased a new home for his parents. A broken heating system resulted in his mother's death from carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  19. Disney had big dreams of opening a revolutionary theme park, telling a colleague that he wanted it to look "like nothing else in the world." He achieved that dream with Disneyland and, after his death, Disney World.
  20. Disney was a train fanatic. His fascination began as a child, when he would watch the trains pass by near his house. His uncle, a train conductor, would blow the whistle as a greeting. Later, as an adult, Disney built a miniature steam railroad in the backyard of his L.A. home. Seeing the joy it brought his daughters, he became determined to incorporate a monorail into Disneyland.
  21. Disney was the head of pageantry for the 1960 Winter Olympics.
  22. A minor planet is named after Disney--4017 Disneya (you thought it was going to be Pluto, didn't you?). It was discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Karachkina in 1980.
  23. Disney has a star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Mickey Mouse, who was the first animated character to receive one.
  24. The character Wall-E was named after Disney himself!
  25. Disney once played the role of Peter Pan in a school play.
  26. Disneyland employees have only their first name listed on their name tags because Disney despised being called Mr. Disney.
  27. Shortly before his death, Disney had plans to build a ski resort. The Walt Disney Company ended up deciding to move forward with Disney World instead.
  28. Disney's final words remain a bizarre mystery. On his deathbed, he wrote the name "Kurt Russell" on a piece of paper. Even Kurt Russell himself is perplexed regarding the meaning. He was a child actor at the time of Disney's death, having just recently signed on with Disney studios.
  29. The last film Disney personally oversaw was The Jungle Book, before his death from lung cancer in 1966.
  30. When Disney died, 25 percent of his estate went to CalArts, helping the private university build up its campus.
  31. Disney is not cryogenically frozen, despite the persistent rumors. He was cremated, and his ashes were buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.