During his lifetime, Walt Disney influenced millions of children through his movies—Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi among the most notable. Now, 50 years after his death in 1966, his positive impact on children continues. And while his movies imparted valuable lessons, this creative and accomplished man also had wisdom to share from his own life experiences.

Read some of Walt Disney’s most insightful quotes on subjects such as life struggles, ambition, and education, and then share them with your children. His words of wisdom, along with these short narratives about his experiences, may motivate your students to persevere when they don’t immediately see the results they hoped for.

 

On Struggles:

Young Walt began working at an early age. And as an adult, he faced bankruptcy and rejection from studios and distributors. Many of his films initially lost money. He knew what it meant to work hard and to face obstacles, but he also learned from them.

 

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me . . . You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

 

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

 

On Ambition:

His first company, Laugh-O-Gram Studio, went bankrupt just a few years after he started it. But he had a vision of what he wanted to accomplish and the perseverance to keep working for it. Even after he achieved success, his ambition drove him to keep accomplishing new things. After creating a revolutionary, full-length animated feature film and a successful Mickey Mouse television program, he set his sights on creating a magical theme park, Disneyland®.

 

“I do not like to repeat successes; I like to go on to other things.”

 

“A man should never neglect his family for business.”

 

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

 

On Achievements:

Walt Disney is an icon in the entertainment industry. His films have achieved both critical and popular acclaim. He holds the record for earning more Academy Awards and nominations than anyone else, winning 22 Oscars and 59 nominations between 1932 and 1969.

 “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

 

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

 

“Get a good idea and stay with it. Do it, and work at it until it’s done right.”

 

On Education:

As a child, Disney was more interested in doodling and drawing than in his schoolwork. Although he enjoyed art and photography classes in high school, he eventually dropped out at the age of 16 and attempted to join the army to fight in World War I. But he always valued education and believed that children could be educated in many ways, including through his movies.

 

“Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource— the minds of our children.”

 

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main . . . and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.”

 

“I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.”

 

On Beliefs and Attitude:

Disney mentioned his religious beliefs in an article for Guideposts magazine, “I believe firmly in the efficacy of religion, in its powerful influence on a person’s whole life,” he wrote. He also strongly believed in his country and worked diligently for the war effort, even creating films for the U.S. government during WWII.


“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”

 

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”

 

On Individuality:

Disney recognized that every person is uniquely valuable and that our differences should be celebrated. His own distinctive life experiences helped shape his character and influence his work. For example, growing up on his family’s farm in Marceline, Missouri, likely contributed to his love of animals and inclination to make them part of his now classic movies. His decision to embrace who he was rather than try to be like others was a significant factor in his success.

 

“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.”

 

“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”

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