Growing up, I used to think that it would be cool to be a member of the Disney family. The Disney progeny should be the happiest family on earth – after all, they’re the heirs to all that Walt and Roy built. (Plus, imagine being able to visit the parks and resorts whenever you wanted.) Over the years, I’ve learned that the Disneys are pretty much just like any other family, only their squabbles are more public, with more at stake.
The first public dispute within the Disney family came when Roy O. Disney’s son, Roy E. Disney, fought to remove the company’s CEO Ron Miller, a former NFL player and the husband of Walt’s daughter, Diane, in 1984. (Similarly, Roy E. Disney pushed to remove Michael Eisner a decade and a half later.) Animator Steve Hulett writes:
I always kind of understood the wrestling match between Ron and Roy. They were members of the same family, and they were having a feud. Ron Miller thought the status quo was okay; Roy wanted more changes. Ron won the first round and Roy left the company, then Roy won the second round and Ron was forced out.
Now, the twin children of Walt’s other daughter, Sharon, are locked in a feud over their $400 million inheritance, and the story has more twists and turns than Space Mountain:
Once close siblings, Walt Disney’s grandkids Michelle and Brad Lund are now embroiled in a battle over their $400 and haven’t spoken in four years.
On one side are Brad Lund and the twins’ father Bill Lund. They say the trustees, who haven’t paid Brad his multi-million installments in years, are controlling Michelle like a ‘robot.’
In the other corner are Michelle and the trustees. They say Brad is mentally incompetent and cannot handle the millions and go so far as to suggest he has Down’s [sic] Syndrome, though he’s never been diagnosed.