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For her, he was Dad, not Uncle Walt- The Vacaville Reporter- 6/19/05


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  • For her, he was Dad, not Uncle Walt- The Vacaville Reporter- 6/19/05

    Full text available here:

    To millions around the world, he was known as Uncle Walt, but to one Napa resident, he was simply Dad.
    As Disneyland celebrates its 50th anniversary, Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, agreed to sit down and reminisce. She talked about her father's life and a special gift she's planning at San Francisco's Presidio to honor his memory.

    Walt Disney was the king of cartoons, making animated shorts, when Diane was born in December 1933. Later, after Walt's wife, Lillian, had numerous miscarriages, the Disneys adopted a baby daughter, Sharon, in 1936.

    In 1937, Walt amazed the world by releasing the first full-length Technicolor animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," one in a long line of historic firsts for Walt Disney and company.

    Despite pressures as a studio chief, Walt was very much a family man who cherished his wife and daughters.

    "I like to think we were typical and we probably were," Diane said during an interview at Silverado Vineyards, the family winery and estate she shares with her husband Ron in Napa's Stags Leap District. "Dad drove us to school every morning until I got my driver's license and then he continued to drive my sister Sharon.

    "He loved children and I think having that family life grounded him."

    Sundays were "Daddy's day" and Walt often would take his daughters on trips to a zoo, parks and fairs - gathering information for what later would become Disneyland.

    In a story Walt helped popularize, he said he got the idea for "some kind of amusement enterprise where parents and children could have fun together" while watching his girls ride the carousel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

    But the seeds of Disneyland were likely planted in the ripe soil of Walt's imagination as a child in Kansas City. He and his younger sister, Ruth, would peer through the fences of Fairmont Park and Electric Park there, which offered a variety of thrill rides, fireworks and concerts.
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