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This Tour is a Thematic Tour or Heritage Trail.

Walt Disney's Kansas City

Created by Nichole Stahly on June 11th 2018, 10:03:22 pm.

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This short, thematic driving tour explores notable locations related to Walt Disney's years in Kansas City and his early life as an animator. It includes his childhood home, his first job, Laugh-O-gram Films studio, and more! Originally born in Chicago, Walt Disney (1901-1966) moved to Marceline, Missouri with his family in 1906 when he was just 5 years old. In 1911, Walt’s father Elias sold the farm and moved their family to Kansas City. They first rented a home on E 31st Street, later purchasing a house on Bellefontaine Avenue. When an investment opportunity came about in the spring of 1917, Elias moved back to Chicago, taking Walt’s mother Flora and little sister Ruth; Walt followed in late summer. The following year, Walt joined the Red Cross and completed a 9 month tour in France at the end of WWI. Walt returned to Kansas City in October 1919, moved in with his older brothers who had been taking care of the Bellefontaine house, and got his first job in cartooning as an apprentice at Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio. After being laid off weeks later, Disney opened his first private studio called Iwerks-Disney in January 1920, and in February was hired at Kansas City Slide Company/ Film Ad Service. While employed there, he borrowed film equipment and started experimenting with animation in a makeshift garage behind his family home on Bellefontaine. This garage was the location of Disney’s first solely-created film shorts, which became known as Laugh-O-grams. In the fall of 1921, Elias sold the family home. Walt moved out and rented an office space where he operated another small, private studio called KayCee. He quit Film Ad the following spring and started his first major venture Laugh-O-gram Films, which was incorporated in May 1922. Largely due to failed contracts, Laugh-O-gram struggled and filed bankruptcy in July 1923. Walt boarded a train on the Santa Fe Railroad to California with $40 in his pocket and unfinished footage that would become Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio’s first completed production, “Alice’s Wonderland.”