It’s a day to cheer up! Mickey Mouse’s birthday is Nov. 18, and the most beloved mouse in the world is turning 88. You’ve probably grown up with him, so you might not realize his official debut was in the short film, “Steamboat Willie.” The animated picture also introduced the cherished Minnie Mouse, so Nov. 18 is her special day, as well.
It’s been nearly nine decades since Walt Disney brought Mickey Mouse to life on a cross-country train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood, Calif. Since then, the character has taken the entertainment industry by storm and is known to nearly every person in the U.S. — and millions across the globe.
Take a look at the incredible career of Mickey Mouse, as well as the enormous amount of money he’s generated in his 88 years.
The Business of Mickey Mouse
More than just a cartoon character, Mickey Mouse is a powerhouse franchise that never goes out of style. The adorable, friendly little mouse enjoys a presence in multiple areas, from merchandise and theme parks to movies and television shows. He even served as a presenter with Tom Selleck at the 60th Academy Awards in 1988.
While he got his start on the silver screen, in recent decades Mickey Mouse has been more of a television persona. You can even find him hidden in the background of Disney movies like “Lilo & Stitch,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.” Two major films he’s appeared prominently in since the 1980s are:
“Fantasia 2000” — $60.7 million domestic gross
“A Goofy Movie” — $35.3 million domestic gross
Walt Disney Co. Value: $169.3 Billion
Boasting a net worth of $169.3 billion, according to Forbes, the Walt Disney Co. generated a sales revenue of $52.5 billion in 2015, which represented a 7 percent increase on the $48.8 billion generated in 2014. The company, which is based in Burbank, Calif., employs 185,000 people and has five business segments — Media Networks, Parks & Resorts, Studio Entertainment, Consumer Products and Interactive Media.
Bob Iger is the chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company. More than just the home of Mickey Mouse, the powerhouse company has a seriously impressive portfolio that includes the Disney/ABC Television Group, ESPN Inc., 11 parks and resorts, 10 studios — including Pixar and Marvel — and four consumer products and interactive media companies. In 2016, Disney ranked No. 71 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Biggest Public Companies and No. 8 on its list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands.
Disneyland and Disney World: the Most Lucrative Theme Parks on Earth
Of the 10 theme parks with the highest attendance rates worldwide in 2015, eight were Disney-owned properties, according to the Global Attractions Attendance Report issued by the Themed Entertainment Association and the economics division of AECOM. They include — in order of popularity — the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris.
Not surprisingly, Walt Disney Attractions took first place on the TEA/AECOM list of the top 10 theme park groups worldwide, with a total of 137.9 million visitors to its parks in 2015. This is more than double the 62.9 million visitors drawn by second place finisher Merlin Entertainments Group — owner of Madame Tussauds and Legoland — and more than triple the 44.9 million welcomed by Universal Parks and Resorts.
The Magic Kingdom — one of the many homes of Mickey Mouse — opened its Lake Buena Vista, Fla., gates on Oct. 1, 1971. The most popular theme park in the world greeted 20.5 million visitors in 2015, according to the TEA/AECOM report. One-day pass tickets for visitors ages 10 and up start at $97, which certainly contributed to the company’s total Parks and Resorts revenue of $16.2 billion for 2015.
Disneyland, the second-most popular theme park on the planet, drew 18.3 million visitors to its Anaheim, Calif., location. Open since 1955, the park offers one-day tickets starting at $95 for visitors ages 10 and up.
Walt Disney Net Worth: $5 Billion
Mickey Mouse brought Walt Disney great fame and fortune, but he was almost never created. After forming Disney Bros. Studio with his older brother Roy in 1923, Walt Disney developed a character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and the studio started creating a series based on him. However, the next year, Walt Disney inadvertently signed over the rights to Oswald to his distributor in a move that could have ended his career.
Of course, Walt Disney bounced back by developing Mickey Mouse — named Mortimer Mouse until his wife persuaded him to change it. In addition to creating Mickey, Disney served as the voice of the character until 1947 and lent his voice to Mickey Mouse shorts for “The Mickey Mouse Club” in 1955.
Prior to his death in 1966, Walt Disney won a total of 22 Oscars — including a special award for creating Mickey Mouse. To this day, he has won more Oscars than anyone else.