“I have a trivia question for you,” the bus driver announced over his public address system.
“Let’s see if anyone knows the answer.
All Disney theme parks here opened on the first of October, except for Animal Kingdom.
Does anyone know the significance of October first?”
Initially, nobody answered.
“Any guesses?” the driver asked.
I yelled, “The Magic Kingdom’s grand opening was October 1, but it soft-opened one day earlier.
September 30 was the last day of Disney’s 1971 fiscal year, so Disney qualified for the Federal investment tax credit for that fiscal year.”
I wasn’t 100% sure of that, but I vaguely remembered something along those lines.
The driver responded, “You must be an accountant.
The real answer is that Walt Disney picked the first of October because that’s the day he was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army for making cartoon drawings on Army trucks during World War I.
Walt Disney was proud of his dishonorable discharge.”
The bus arrived at my stop, so I got off the bus.
I suppose I could have stayed on for one more stop so I could have yelled, “You’re wrong!
Walt was never in the Army, so he could not have been discharged from the Army, honorably or dishonorably.
And I’m not an accountant.”
The real story is that sixteen-year-old Walt Disney wanted to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War I, but was too young.
So he lied about his age and enlisted in the American Ambulance Corps of the Red Cross.
Young Walt arrived in France in November 1918, just shy of his 17th birthday.
On October 9, 1919, after eleven months of overseas service, homesick Walt returned to the United States.
His official discharge from the Ambulance Corps was the next day.
And there was nothing dishonorable about it.