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Did Ray Kroc and Walt Disney Know Each Other?

Networking is essential in the world of business. Billion-dollar company heads are bound to have an impressive network of influential people. And we’ve heard about high-power friendships that last for decades. But did you know of the friendship between McDonald’s’ Ray Kroc and Walt Disney?

Ray Kroc, the American businessman behind the success of McDonald’s, and Walt Disney were both from Illinois. They met each other in World War I serving in the same ambulance corps. After the war, they both settled in Southern California.

Who is Ray Kroc?

Raymond Albert Kroc is the man behind McDonald’s corporate success. He purchased the fast-food company in 1961 and served as the CEO from 1967 until 1973. Kroc was credited for the international expansion of McDonald’s. This move turned the company into the most successful fast-food chain in the world. Kroc was often referred to as the founder of the McDonald’s corporation because of his role in its accomplishment.

Kroc initially sold paper cups and milkshake machines after returning from the war. He discovered the hamburger restaurant that was owned by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. The brothers had bought several milkshake machines from him. When the brothers were looking for a franchising agent, Kroc saw this opportunity and offered his services.

Kroc opened the first McDonald’s franchise in 1955. Six years later, he bought the exclusive rights to the company.

I was an overnight success alright, but 30 years is a long, long night.

Ray Kroc

(Source: McDonald’s)

Kroc and Disney’s Friendship

Kroc noticed how much Disney was influencing American culture. Disney has been a big player in Hollywood since 1945, and their shares went public shortly after. Kroc, on the other hand, had had four McDonald’s stores open.

Disneyland was about to open, and Kroc saw another opportunity to expand his business and get the American public interested in his fast food. It was then when he wrote a letter to Walt Disney. He reminded him of the time they served together in the war and explained his interest in the opening of Disneyland. He discussed his business and how McDonald’s could play a role in the theme park.

Unfortunately, the friendship they formed as old war buddies were not enough to keep Disney interested. Disney saw McDonald’s like a minor concessionary. He was more interested in brands like Stouffer’s or Aunt Jemima. As the years passed, Dinsey designed to make their own food brand.

Kroc never got to partner with Disney during his lifetime, but even though he was able to turn McDonald’s into a global powerhouse on its own. (Source: Attractions Magazine)

Are McDonald’s and Disney Working Together Now?

With the rocky relationship between the two founders, it took a while for the corporations to synergize. When McDonald’s was finally on Disney’s radar, they both came to terms with cross-marketing that would benefit their companies.

Unfortunately, this didn’t last as long as expected. According to the contract, Mcdonald’s was only allowed to advertise movies under the Disney umbrella. They broke off their deal, and Disney partnered with other brands like Burger King and Pizza Hut. Though they did seem to go back and forth with Disney over the years.

The relationship between these two companies is quite complicated. All we know for sure is that Happy Meals will still be able to carry the occasional Dinsey promotional toy from time to time. (Source: Attractions Magazine)

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