Walt Disney
Disney always capped off the workday with a Scotch Mist and a massage.
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• Walt Disney's daily routine involved long workdays.

• Sometimes he didn't leave his studio; other days he wound down with a Scotch Mist and headed home for dinner.

• Disney had a lot of usual habits that defined his managerial style.

Walt Disney's daily routine was far from static.

Disney didn't just have to contend with all sorts of disparate tasks, from reviewing film storyboards to planning the construction of Disneyland to establishing the studio's television presence.

His role also shifted as The Walt Disney Co. changed drastically over the years, from upstart animation studio to a powerful Hollywood icon.

Still, Disney had a few habits and strategies that did stick with him over the years. Some of these practices even helped shape his work.

Here's a look at Walt Disney's daily schedule:

To get pumped up for work, Disney sometimes woke at 5:30 a.m., played five holes of golf, and then skipped ahead to the 18th hole.

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Breakfast was a simple affair for Disney. He'd typically have toast, eggs, juice, and maybe a sausage.

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Biographer Bob Thomas wrote that Disney would often come into work around 8 a.m. He'd start the day off by reviewing storyboards or holding conferences in his office.

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Disney kept some of his most prized awards on the table behind his desk, including his first Oscar. He won a total of 32 Academy awards between 1931 and 1968.

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Later in the morning, Disney would take a look around the studio or go check on WED Enterprises, the theme-park research-and-development team that's now known as Walt Disney Imagineering. He'd typically be back in his office by noon.

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He drank coffee around lunchtime and reportedly insisted that coffee at Disneyland cost only a dime.


Otherwise, lunch typically consisted of light fare and a glass of V8 tomato juice. According to his biographer Neil Gabler, Disney thought that "too much food made you think confusedly" and disapproved of employees taking long lunch breaks.

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He did, however, snack while he worked. Disney was known to constantly carry around nuts and crackers in his jacket pockets.


As a boss, Disney was never effusive with praise, but Thomas wrote that his employees considered it "a triumph" if Disney shed a tear over the script or scene they were working on.

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Whether he was on set or into the studio, Disney "didn't like to be accosted," according to Thomas. He did attempt to memorize employees' names, even as the studio grew, studying files that matched employee photographs to their names.

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The rest of Disney's afternoon was packed with meetings until 5 p.m. Then, Gabler writes, Disney would make phone calls and sign letters.

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Secretary Tommie Wilck would prepare Disney a Scotch Mist drink at the end of the workday. The beverage was "mostly ice," Wilck said, in an interview with The Walt Disney Family Museum. "He may have consumed a lot of liquid but I don’t think he really got much liquor," she said.

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Because of an injury he got playing polo in 1938, Disney would also receive a massage treatment from his personal nurse and confidante, Hazel George. Then, he'd head home for dinner with his wife, Lillian, and their two daughters.

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Disney's favorite dish was chili and beans. Thomas wrote that he was "a connoisseur" of the food, "preferring to combine a can of Gebhardt's, which had more meat and few beans, with a can of Dennison's, which had less meat and more beans."

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When it came to dinner, his tastes were reportedly simple, and he preferred chicken liver and mac and cheese over "expensive cuts of meat."

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Occasionally, Disney wouldn't even make it home for dinner. He would sometimes remain in the office overnight, and often startled employees with late-night check-ins.

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His massive office on the third floor of the company's Burbank studio even included a place for him to sleep.

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Sometimes, he didn't go to bed until midnight.

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When he wasn't working, Disney had a number of hobbies. He had a love of polo, and also tried his hand at calisthenics, ice skating, and dancing. Many of these activities came about after his nervous breakdown, in 1931, brought on by overwork and anxiety.

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Outside of work, Disney also had a lifelong fascination with trains, and he even built a model steam engine and tracks that circled his house in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles.

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In a 1957 Time magazine profile, Disney claimed to have forgone vacations and worked 14 hours a day at certain points in his career.

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But as The Walt Disney Co. stabilized, Disney and Lillian took time away to go on cruises, take road trips, and visit resorts.

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Still, even as his company expanded and developed over the decades, he remained unable to stay away from it for long. "People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true," he wrote in a 1959 edition of Wisdom magazine. "My answer is, you do it by working."

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