Disney History

next class is FULL

$245 per course per person for the general public. Members pay $230.

$245 public - $230 members

View the weekly class calendar
Spring classes start the week of January 28 and end the week of May 13.

GHFOInstructor: Dori Koehler, PhD
5-10 students, ages 9-12
Meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 9am Pacific Time Convert to other time zones here



Do you love Disney? Have you ever wondered what the people who made the movies thought and did during their time at the studio? This course takes a virtual tour through the most famous animation studio in history. We begin by discussing Walt Disney’s life and his early animation studio Laugh-O- Grams. We continue by discussing the central historical occurrences of the animation studio – the Golden Age, the Disney Renaissances, and the current trajectory of the studio. We will cover such important historical events such the opening of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the creation of The Disney Channel, and the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm, and 20th Century Fox. Students will be encouraged to choose a subtopic for research. The final project will be a choice of either a 2-3 page paper OR a creative project that explores the topic.


Whatever you choose, the point is to have fun learning about Disney history! 

Primary Texts: Choose ONE based on student reading level.
disneyWalt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomasdisneydisney

Who Was Walt Disney? by Whitney Stewart


Optional Text: disneyWalt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neil Gabler
Note* This book is VERY LONG and VERY COMPLEX. This is NOT required reading, but it IS the best biography to date on Walt Disney. Even if you don’t read it for this class, you may want to read it someday!


Films: These are not required, but any of these are helpful for those who are more visually inclined.
American Experience: Walt Disney
Waking Sleeping Beauty
Walt Before MickeyImage result for disneyland
Walt Disney: The Man Behind the Myth
Walt and El Grupo
Saving Mr. Banks
The Pixar Story
The Boys: The Sherman Brother’s Story

Prerequisites: None

Week 1 - Walt’s Early Lifedisney
Class 1: Marceline to Laugh-O-Grams: The Early Years
Class 2: Hyperion Street to Mickey Avenue: The Early Studio Years
Week 2 - The War Years and the Golden Age of Disney’s Studio
Class 3: Pinocchio, Dumbo, & World War Two
Class 4: Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, & Cinderella
Week 3 - Disney’s Utopia
Class 5: The Creation of Disneyland & Sleeping Beauty
Class 6: Tomorrowland & Mary Poppins
Week 4 - The Studio in Retreat
Class 7: Loss of Walt & the Creation of Walt Disney World
Image result for disney historyClass 8: Disney’s Dark Age (1966-1987)
Week 5 - The First Disney Renaissance
Class 9: The Awakening of the Disney Princess: Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine
Class 10: The Lion King, Pocahontas, and the End of the 20th Century
Week 6 - The Second Disney Renaissance
Class 11: Pixar and Frozen
Class 12: Marvel, LucasFilm, and the Future of The Walt Disney Company

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