Retlaw Enterprises

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"Retlaw" redirects here. For the hamlet in Alberta, see Retlaw, Alberta. For the design and architectural group, see Walt Disney Imagineering.
"Walt Disney Inc." redirects here. It is not to be confused with The Walt Disney Company.
Retlaw Enterprises
Former type private corporation
Industry Media, Real Estate
Founded 1953[1]
Founders Walt Disney
Defunct 2005
Headquarters North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA[1], USA
Services Broadcast
Total assets ~$150 million (1990)[1]
Owners Lillian Disney (30%)
Diane Disney Miller (40%)
Sharon Disney Lund (30%)[1]
Subsidiaries Retlaw Broadcasting Corp.

Retlaw Enterprises, originally Walt Disney Inc. then WED Enterprises (WED), was a privately held company owned by the heirs of entertainment mogul Walt Disney. Disney formed the company to control the rights to his name and to manage two Disneyland attractions that he personally owned. Walter spelled backwards is Retlaw.[1]


Walt Disney Inc. was formed by Walt Disney in 1953 with the Disneyland designing engineering division. He also assigned the rights to his name and likeness to the company as well as ownership of two Disneyland attractions, the Disneyland Railroad and the Disneyland Monorail. Roy O. Disney objected to Walt's creation of the company as he considered it a diversion a larger portion of the Walt Disney Productions income to Walt's family. WDI charged a licensed fee to the Disney company for 5% to 10% of the income from all of Disney's merchandising deals.[1] With Roy's and potential stockholder objections, WDI was rename WED Enterprises based on his initials.[2]

Walt also licensed Zorro TV rights from Mitchell in February 1953.[3] WED Enterprises developed some scripts for the proposed Zorro TV series and shopped the series to the CBS and NBC TV networks. Both networks request to see a pliot show. With the construction of Disneyland ongoing, the Zorro show was put on hold.[4][5] Later that year, Walt Disney sold his Zorro TV show rights to Walt Disney Productions.[6]

In July 1953, Clement Melancon, a small shareholder of Walt Disney Productions stock, took Walt Disney and WED Enterprises, to court over the WED deal believing that Walt is improperly funneling profits from Walt Disney Productions.[7] The case is settled in January 1955.[8]

Retlaw paid rent for the attractions' rights-of-way and employed the attraction administrators. Walt Disney through Retlaw Enterprises also owned the Viewliner and the horse-drawn streetcars on Main Street.[9]

Retlaw purchased 10% interest in 26 Disney 1960s live-action movies including Mary Poppins through Walt Disney's management contract with Walt Disney Productions that allowed him to invest up to 15% in new projects. By 1990, these movies generate an annual income usually $600,000+ for Retlaw.[1]


The theme park design and architectural group became so integral to the Disney studio's operations that the studio bought it on February 5, 1965 along with the WED Enterprises name. Thus the Corporation needed a new name, Retlaw Enterprises.[10][11][12][13]

In 1968, Retlaw started to diversify by acquiring its first TV station with its Fresno station purchase.[1]

Finally, in 1982, the Disney family sold the naming rights and rail-based attractions to the Disney film studio for 818,461 shares of Disney stock then worth $42.6 million none of which went to Retlaw. The remaining divisions of Retlaw, after the majority of the company was sold to Walt's larger public company, were several television stations and real estate holdings that continue to be owned by the Disney family. Per Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Retlaw received $75 million in net income from the monorail and railroad from 1955 to late 1981. Also, Roy E. Disney objected to the overvalued purchase price of the naming right and voted against the purchase as a Disney board director.[1]

By 1990, Retlaw holding included 6 CBS affiliated TV stations, a small jet charter service, 580 Palmdale farmland acres and 220 acres of vacant land in Riverside County and 330 avocado grove acres in Riverside County and Escondido. The charter service operated out of Van Nuys Airport. The family shares receive in 1982 would be in 1990 2% of the Disney stock and worth an estimated $300 million while Forbes estimates their stock to be worth $600 million, down from 1989's $850 million.[1]

WFXG was purchased in May 1998.[14] In 1999 Retlaw sold its remaining 11 television stations to Fisher Communications, including all of the related assets to those properties[15] for $215 million in cash.[16]

In 2005 the remaining divisions of Retlaw officially became part of the Walt Disney Family Foundation, a non-profit organization led by Diane Disney Miller.[2]

Retlaw Broadcasting Corp.[edit]

City of license / Market Station Channel Years Owned[1]
Fresno - Visalia KJEO 47 1968-99
Monterey - Salinas, California KMST 46 -99
Augusta, GA WFXG 54 (51) May 1998[14]-1999
Columbus - Opelika - Auburn WXTX 54 1998-99
Idaho Falls - Pocatello KIDK 3 -99
Lewiston - Spokane - Coeur d'Alene -
Clarkston - Pullman - Moscow
KLEW-TV 3 -99
Eugene - Coos Bay - Roseburg KVAL-TV 13 1996-99
(satellite of KVAL)
11 1996-99
(satellite of KVAL)
4 -99
Yakima - Walla Walla - Pasco -
Richland - Kennewick
KIMA-TV 29 -99
(semi-satellite of KIMA)
19 -99

The six stations owned in 1990 were purchased for $37 million and were estimated then to be worth $100 million.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Peltz, James F. (October 2, 1990). "The Wonderful World of Disney's Other Firm : Entertainment: Walt Disney created a separate company for his family. Retlaw Enterprises Inc. is now worth hundreds of millions.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Schultz, Jason. "The WED Imagineers". Magic Kingdom Chronicles. MousePlanetô Inc. Retrieved October 20, 2007. 
  3. ^ Zorro Unmasked - The Official History, by Sandra Curtis, 1998. Page 118.
  4. ^ Building a Company - Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire, by Bob Thomas, 1998. Page 181.
  5. ^ Zorro Unmasked - The Official History, by Sandra Curtis, 1998. Page 119.
  6. ^ Zorro Unmasked - The Official History, by Sandra Curtis, 1998. Page 120.
  7. ^ Walt Disney - Hollywood's Dark Prince, by Marc Eliot, 1993. Page 216.
  8. ^ Walt Disney - Hollywood's Dark Prince, by Marc Eliot, 1993. Page 220.
  9. ^ Broggie, Michael (1997). Walt Disney's Railroad Story. Pentrex. p. 29. ISBN 1563420090. 
  10. ^ Broggie, Michael (1997). Walt Disney's Railroad Story. Pentrex. p. 174. ISBN 1563420090. 
  11. ^ Smith, Dave (1998). Disney A to Z - The Updated Official Encyclopedia. Hyperion Books. pp. 467, 601. ISBN 0786863919. 
  12. ^ Stewart, James (2005). Disney War. Simon & Schuster. p. 41. 
  13. ^ Gabler, Neal (2006). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Knopf. p. 629. 
  14. ^ a b Witsil, Frank (November 16, 1999). "Fox station changes hands". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  15. ^ "8-K For 7/1/99". Fisher Communications Inc. filings. Retrieved October 20, 2007. 
  16. ^ Vrana, Debrora (November 19, 1998). "Fisher Cos. Is Expected to Buy Retlaw's 11 TV Stations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 July 2012.