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Thursday Treasures

December 11, 2014

Walt Disney's Burial
By Justin Smith

December is both a happy and sad month for the Disney family. While Walt was born in this month, December 5th of 1901 to be exact, he also died less than two weeks after his 65th birthday. His brother Roy, who co-founded the company with Walt and came out of retirement after Walt's death to oversee the company all the way until the opening of Walt Disney World, also died in December. Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt, and son of Roy, who went on to reinvigorate the company his family founded, also died in Dec. back in 2009. Even Walt's wife died in December of 1997. It's heartbreaking that anyone has to die so close to the holiday season, the one-time of the year where everyone sort of mutually agrees to put their conflicts and differences aside and celebrate life. The fact the Disney family has had to suffer multiple deaths this time of year is just tragic and ironically cruel on the universe's part. After all, what other family has contributed more to bringing joy and happiness worldwide through-out an entire year, usually reserved to one month for most others, than the Disney family?

Walt Disney

With that in mind, I thought that it would be nice to take a moment to pay respect to the man who has contributed more to the world of art than any individual since Leonardo Da Vinci, and whose accomplishments have meant more to me and my life than those of any other individual I can think of.

Chances are you have probably heard about the urban-myth that Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen and buried underneath Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland. That is in fact a myth, one that was spread by animator Ward Kimball (who had a reputation of being practical jokester). In actuality the opposite is true: Walt was actually cremated. His ashes were interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.

Being that Glendale is a city that's practically right next to Hollywood, you'll find that a lot of celebrities are buried here. Everyone from Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Stewart to Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor have a spot at this memorial. After a bit of driving and a bit of search, I finally found Walt Disney's plaque, which also lists his wife Lillian, his daughter Sharon, and Sharon's husband, Robert B. Brown.

Walt Disney's plaque

It's a nice quiet corner within the cemetery. It's quite modest compared to a giant statue you'd find of George Washington (what his connection to CA is I'm not sure), but there's quite a bit of open space surrounding the plaque for their admirers to really take a moment absorb and reflect, which is quite fitting for a family of such stature.

But the most interesting thing about this modest little memorial is the statue. What is the statue of you ask? That blue statue is none other than that of Hans Christen Anderson's The Little Mermaid.

Disney's burial

As everyone knows, the company Walt founded would go on to adapt that story for their 1989 animated classic The Little Mermaid, which became the most successful full-length animated film from Disney since The Jungle Book: the last animated Disney film that was personally overseen by Walt Disney.

I really can't think of a better symbolization of Walt Disney's legacy. It shows you how a person can still be very much alive to the point of influencing and inspiring others, even after death.


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