If you are ever asked, “who is Walt Disney World’s ® most famous character?” you probably wouldn’t hesitate to say Mickey Mouse, and you’d be right. But he’s certainly not the first animated character Walt Disney created. In fact, if it weren’t for a financial slip up, Mickey Mouse may have never became the face of Walt Disney World ®.

In 1927, Walt Disney and his chief animator Ub Iwerks ended their work on the Alice Comedies (an animated cartoon, in which a live action girl named Alice and an animated cat named Julius had adventures in an animated landscape) series in search of new opportunities. Around the same time Universal Studios was looking to get into the cartoon business. Disney and Iwerks heard of the opportunity and created a new character they could sell to Universal. That character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and became Universal’s first cartoon series.

Disney’s first Oswald cartoon, Poor Papa was originally rejected by Universal due to poor production but his second cartoon, Trolley Troubles, released in 1927 was a hit and officially launched the series. But Disney’s time with Oswald was short lived. In 1928, he traveled to New York City to negotiate a more profitable contract but due to the economic struggles at the time Disney’s producer believed he should instead settle for a 20% cut. Disney decided to quit his job at the studio and because he did not have enough money, he could not purchase the rights to his Oswald character. The result prompted him to create Mickey Mouse (if you’re unfamiliar with Oswald, he has a sticking resemblance to Mickey Mouse, except his ears are much longer and his mouth is shaped into a wider smile.)

In 2006, after 78 years Oswald returned to its rightful spot at Walt Disney World ®. And now in honor of its 85th anniversary Disney ® has introduced a variety of Oswald merchandise for guests to enjoy.

One of the items created this year was an Oswald hat. Similar to the Mickey Mouse Ears hats, the Oswald hats let guests experience Oswald’s long rabbit ears.

Other Oswald items include autograph books, bags, statues, vintage-inspired plush dolls and more. He’s also found his way onto T-shirts and pins, including the 85th anniversary pin, a limited-edition pin and a Hidden Mickey pin for Disneyland.

And the latest Oswald item release was a 3-inch Vinylmation figure from the Classic Collection series designed by Disney ® artist Eric Caszatt.

To see Walt Disney’s first animated character and his resemblances to Mickey Mouse you can find discounted Walt Disney World ® tickets right here on Best of Orlando, and you can check out the videogames Epic Mickey and Epic Mickey 2 The Power of Two on the Nintendo Wii.

Orlando, FL – 11/30/12