Sunday, September 21, 2008
How Disney ended up in Central Florida
This week I began reading Richard Foglesong's book "Married to the Mouse." It chronicles how Disney came about choosing the site that it chose, how they went to such extreme measures to buy the land without letting the public know that they were the purchasers, how it effected Orlando's growth, and how it turned a citrus region into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. I also learned that before deciding on its current location in both Bay Lake and Buena Vista on what is now the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney actually considered Niagara Falls (both the US and Canadian side but opted out because they wouldn't be able to operate the park year-round), St. Louis (ended when local business insulted Walt), Palm Beach (not enough land to build on), New Orleans, the DC area (they later thought about purchasing a park in Northern Virginia but decided not to for numerous reasons), New Jersey, other sites in California, and Colorado. The main decisions for choosing the current location were because only two percent of all visitors to Disneyland were from the east coast while seventy-five percent of Americans lived east of the Mississippi, the chosen location enabled year-round operations, the amount of available land meant that Disney would not be confined to a small area like the California property, and most importantly, the site is located at the intersection of six major roadways (as of now), which would bring all people from the panhandle, the north and the rest of Florida all to Disney by car, it's in the center of Florida, and Orlando was preparing to convert McCoy Airfield into a new international airport. Since getting people to the park was one of the biggest concerns that Walt had and all of these factors, combined with the massive amount of available land really sold the deal for Disney.