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What Disney, Pixar, and StarWars All Have in Common

Other than the fact that they all kind of own each other in some way and have universes created in theme parks, there are some other important similarities that were present even before they teamed up. Perhaps that’s the reason they united in the first place. 

“We did it (Disneyland), in the knowledge that most of the people I talked to thought it would be a financial disaster – closed and forgotten within the first year.”

– Walt Disney

Never Before Seen Ideas

They were doubted by their peers, as well as the public, and expected to fail miserably because of the scale of their dreams. People didn’t believe Snow White would be a success; or that Disney parks would open up an entire empire for the company; or that Star Wars would be one of the biggest film franchises in history. Perhaps what set them apart from their competitors was the level of obsession they had with their work. They weren’t doing it to become famous and rich – they created because they were compelled to, because of their love for the work.

“For ‘Star Wars’ I had to develop a whole new idea about special effects to give it the kind of kinetic energy I was looking for. I did it with motion-control photography.”

– George Lucas

Inventing What Didn’t Exist

The fact that certain technology didn’t exist at the time didn’t stop any of these creators from moving forward with their dreams. Maybe it took them a few extra years, or decades, but they took the time to make their art the right way and create the technology to accomplish it. Imagineers at Disney are constantly inventing new technology for their parks and experiences. Pixar developed an entirely new way to create animated movies. George Lucas started his own special effects company.

“Part of what we try to do with these details is to push away that there was a designer here. And rather, to put designs in front of you that just make you think that has to be real.” 

– Joe Rohde, Imagineer

The Devil is In the Details

One of the reasons Disney films and parks are so enchanting is because they focus on every detail right down to a working doorbell on fake building or hiding Mickey Mouse ears everywhere. The definitive details are what bring creative work to life. It’s what sets it apart from the people who don’t take it as far as they could. Pixar doesn’t complete a movie until the story and the visuals are right. When Violet’s hair in The Incredibles wasn’t working, Brad Bird didn’t say “Ok we’ll do short hair.” He made sure it was developed in detail until it was ready. The same case is made for Star Wars, it’s the level of detail that has you wanting to rewatch and live through these stories again and again.

“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you are doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.”

– George Lucas

They Took Career Ending Risks

It wasn’t easy for any of these moguls to create the films or experiences they dreamed of. It took big risks and having a huge wave of doubters. But they did it any way because their creative force drove them towards it. George Lucas wanted to own the rights to Star Wars because he anticipated it to fail and wanted to be able to independently make future films without the help big studios. Pixar wasn’t sure if Toy Story was going to be a success. Disney bet all of his money and reputation on Snow White. And in the end they ended up changing the industry, changing the world, and making history. 

“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.”

– Walt Disney

They Didn’t Give Up When It Got Tough

When something is built, it’s easy to forgot all the hard work and years it took for it to be accomplish. Or to forget that there were a million problems plaguing the project before it was a success. Star Wars blew through it’s budget and looked like a disaster before George Lucas put everything he had into making it the best he could. The stress of it all even affected his health. Disney Parks weren’t even finished the day they opened, their pavement still had to dry! It goes to show that while everything may look effortless, behind the scenes it’s normal for things to go wrong and to run into roadblocks. It’s about not giving up and pushing forward even when things look like they’re up in flames.

“If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.”
― Ed Catmull

Not Everything Turned to Gold

When thinking of enormously successful people or companies it can be easy to assume that they were born to be successful or were always destined for success. But in reality, everyone has failures. Some of these moguls have had major failures right before big successes. George Lucas’ first film was a disappointment to some. Disney’s first cartoon business went bankrupt. Even John Lasseter was fired from Disney and later worked for Pixar who helped Disney become a success again. Sometimes it’s in those failures that we learn what we need to be successful – sometimes it’s just a bad hand of cards. But it proves to be fruitful to keep on creating. To keep moving forward in the midst of failure because you never know what the future has in store.

Have you noticed any other connections between these three empires?

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