Walt Disney World, Pt. 1

Posted by Sir Four at 6:01pm Apr 2 '08
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In my opinion, Walt Disney is one of the most interesting figures of 20th Century America. I have to confess, I have something of a fascination with Disney's career and accomplishments. The man began his career in animation in Kansas City, opening his own studio in the 1920s with several other aspiring animators. Finding distributors was a constant challenge, as was finding talent in that area. So in the 30s he moved his shop to Hollywood and brought his brother, Roy Disney, on board to manage the business side. The new place was called the Disney Brothers' Studio--Roy Disney is largely forgotten by history, but the company was really a partnership between these two men, Walt the creative genius, and Roy the manager who made sure the company was profitable.

To make a long story short, by the 1950s the Disneys had decided that animated movies were too hit-or-miss to rely on. Some of the films would be big successes, while others would fail to cover their costs. Walt had taken an interest in amusement parks and decided he could build something better than the typical carnival rides and down-scale atmosphere of such parks at the time. And his Disneyland would provide a stable source of revenue for the company.

Disneyland was a huge success, but Walt was not satisfied. He hated that the surrounding land was bought up by opportunists eager to take advantage of the attraction of Disneyland by setting up tacky tourist traps. He was bothered by the fact that Disneyland was visited by almost nobody from the East Coast. So he decided a second Disneyland must be built, and it must be built east of the Mississippi.

Numerous locations were considered. But ultimately, Orlando hit the trifecta: weather that would permit year-round operation, cheap land, and transportation access. In the 1960s, Orlando wasn't much of a city. But local leaders had big ideas, and saw greater road access as key to fuel development. They ensured that I-4 and the Florida Turnpike would connect their city to the major north-south highways I-95 and I-75. Walt Disney reportedly flew over the area, saw the newly-built roadways, and decided it would be perfect for what would be one of the most ambitious construction projects ever attempted.

Too be continued...

added on 2:24pm Sep 14 '09:
Part two
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