Donald Duck  

Donald Duck ride

 This spot the difference picture could just as well be a game of ‘identify the cartoon character’, and if it were, I am sure that 90% of people would get it right. For although Donald Duck is 82 years old, having first appeared in The Wise Little Hen in 1934, he is probably more recognisable globally than the Pope or Che Guevara. For as well as the original park in California, and the second one in Florida, Disney now has seven other ‘destinations’ including parks in Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The photograph was taken outside a toy shop in Zug, Switzerland, and no doubt the makers of this simple children’s ride had to pay a royalty to the Disney Corporation for using their intellectual property – a duck. Probably they judged it worth it for the attraction of the character and the consequent ‘pester factor’ of children asking their parents to pay for their ride.

Walter Elias Disney died in 1966, but the company he founded to make cartoon films has gone on to become a multi-national mass media and entertainment conglomerate – the second largest such company in the world, with around 166,000 employees around the world and a gross revenue in 2015 of $52.5 million USD. The corporation’s latest venture is to buy the Star Wars franchise.
But although hugely successful, the company is not without its critics and has been accused of hiding sexual references in its family films such as The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. More general criticism has been about the way Disney seeks to influence young children to grow up to be consumers of their brand. Try its pervasiveness yourself: when you have found the difference between the two pictures, see how many Disney characters you can write down from memory, whether you have actually seen the film(s) they appear in or not.