...his greatest innovations were as an impresario and a businessman, and by the time he was done his combination of image and music and merchandise and theme park had paved the way for the cocooned entertainment culture in which we now exist. Even more than Coke and McDonalds—and perhaps even more than the church—Disney was the great brand artist of his era, carving out a niche in most American brains and hearts. As the consumer society grew more secular, he supplied an easy and alternate creed, complete with icons, pilgrimage sites, and spiritual comforts. In the hymnal of the American religion, most of the happy, whistling tunes were his.
from article in Books & Culture