Initially founded as a cartoon studio in 1923, the Walt Disney Company has grown and diversified on a large scale, with its operating segments including media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products. Walt Disney’s media network business is the most profitable division of the company, accounting for over forty percent of Disney’s total global revenue in 2018. The Disney Channel, ESPN, History, Lifetime, A&E, FYI, and LMN are a few examples of Disney-owned channels. The Walt Disney Company is also one of the leading film studios in the world, responsible for several of the world's most expensive movie productions in the industry, as well as some of the most hotly-anticipated titles. Walt Disney Studios owns The Muppets Studio, the highly successful Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment, and George Lucas’ Lucasfilm.
Walt Disney was intent on entertaining off-screen as well as on-screen. With 150 million attendees in 2017, Disney is by far the largest amusement park chain in the world, and in 2018 generated over 20 billion U.S. dollars in revenue from its theme parks alone. Aside from the park and resort business, Disney also has a strong presence in the cruise industry. American travelers rated Disney as the best large-ship cruise line, and the seventh best midsized-ship cruise line in 2018.
In the consumer market, Disney is the leading company in licensed merchandise worldwide. Disney Consumer Products’ global retail sales stood at 53 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, whereas Meredith, its closest competitor in the market, registered a total of 23.2 billion U.S. dollars in sales during the same period. In 2018, Disney's revenue from consumer products was about 3.06 billion U.S. dollars in licensing and publishing, and approximately 1.59 billion U.S. dollars in retail and other segments.