Growing Up Disney

“I was taking my kids around these kiddie parks. We used to go out every Saturday and Sunday. They used to love to go with me in those days. That was some of the happiest days of my life. They were in love with their dad.”

 -Walt Disney

In honor of Father’s Day, we share the stories told by Diane Disney Miller about her father, Walt Disney. In 1956, Diane sat down with journalist Peter Martin where she spoke candidly about what it was like to be Walt’s daughter.

Walt Disney and his daughters Diane and Sharon“There came a time when Daddy said that we left him. Every Sunday we used to go with him where he wanted to go. He would take us to the amusement park and then he’d take us to the studio. In our early teens we wouldn’t go with him anymore. He would say, ‘Let’s go to the studio, kids!’ Oh Dad, you know. I wanted to see my girlfriends. This was around junior high school. Every now and then we would go with Daddy but we would always hang around and say, ‘When can we go home, Dad?’ Sharon was his buddy for a longer time. After I left, Sheri went with him. There came a time when Sheri left him and that was the crushing blow. Then we had our own brown poodle and he would take her with him. He would take the dog and go over to the studio or in his workshop. He would go up to the machine shop at night over at the studio and work there on his train and on his miniatures. He would take Dee Dee with him—that was her name, Duchess Disney. He would take her with him and she was very understanding to Daddy. But there came a time at night where even Dee Dee wanted to go home. She would go up and put her muzzle on his knee. He would say, ‘Okay Dee Dee we’ll go home.’

“[Sharon and I] would play horses, get out and have stick horses ride all over the back lot. Dad taught us both to ride down in Palm Springs. We used to go down there quite often ever since I was six years old. Then I took riding lessons up here and I would ride almost everyday. I think we wanted to be horses. Daddy says up to a point we wanted to marry Daddy. Both of us did. We grew up and wanted to marry Daddy. Then Dad says after that we fell in love with horses and wanted to marry a horse. My sister and I were both that way. I don’t think we’ve ever outgrown it. That’s because Dad loves horses too.

“Dad has a wonderful sense of humor. We’ve had many hilarious nights at the dinner table. We get into hysterics at the dinner table. Dad gets on some line that’s funny and if he gets a giggle or a rise from us he persists and won’t give it up and he keeps bringing it up. He just has a wonderful line of humor.

“He’s been a wonderful Dad he really has. It’s funny about Dad, he’s very boyish, I guess he always will be.”

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