Disney's future

Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse on the run? The famous Disney company dismantled? Snow White sold off to another film distribution company? This may be the year when the folks at Walt Disney Productions thought they could bask in the glow of the 50th-anniversary-year celebrations for Donald Duck , now under way, and when Disney's current release, ''Splash,'' is making big waves at the box office. But the effort by financier Saul Steinberg to take over the historic film and theme park company appears likely to be far more dramatic than anything the company could have written for the big screen. Indeed, the planned takeover of the Disney company comes against a backdrop of increasing criticism - much of that criticism in Congress - about the number of predatory takeover efforts on Wall Street these days.

Mr. Steinberg's investment group now controls 11.1 percent of Disney stock and has formally initiated a bid to get control of the company. Another key member of the takeover group is financier Kirk Kerkorian, who, through an investment corporation, controls MGM-United Artists and MGM Grand Hotels Inc.

According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Steinberg reportedly plans to dismantle Disney.

In the past, Mr. Steinberg has been said to engage in ''greenmail'' - i.e., forcing a company to buy back an investor's shares at a premium. Whether that tactic is involved now, or whether Mr. Steinberg and his associates really plan to acquire, and then dismantle, Disney is not known. But either effort cannot help evoking many memories for millions of Americans over the years who have enjoyed Disney's family-oriented productions. That may be something for Disney stockholders to weigh, as those attractive tender offers now reach them.

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