Disneyworld Information

The History of Disneyworld

The history of Disneyworld is a fascinating tale of growth and development, yet done on the cheap - as they say. Back in the late 1950s, early '60s, Walt Disney was both pleased and disturbed by his theme park in California, Disneyland. It was a great success, but he was saddened to see what was around it, hemming it in. It was all the cheap and gaudy sorts of shops and motels; and they were not only ugly, but they prevented him from realizing his vision for the future of the park.

That's when the idea for Disneyworld sprang forth. The question was: where to build this new Disneyworld theme park? A number of factors had to be considered. First, it had to be in the south - theme parks in the north had limited appeal due to the winter weather. Next, it had to be conveniently located for travelers - cars, trains, planes etc, yet not in a heavily urban area. The reason for that was cost. Land in such an area would not be cheap. And finally, Disneyworld had to be a good distance from Disneyland; so as to not take tourists away from it. In a survey of park attendees, it was found that most people came from west of the Mississippi River. So, the new Disneyworld needed to be in the east, so as to tap into that market. The question of locating it in another country was not even considered. There was no way Walt Disney was going to go overseas. There was also a sort of hidden issue for Mr. Disney - control. He wanted an area where he could control every aspect of Disneyworld, right down to the building codes that he'd have to follow.

Looking over all these issues, Walt very quickly settled on Florida, and Central Florida at that for the place to build Disneyworld. Miami was too expensive, and any development near the coast ran the risk of being damaged by a hurricane. At that time, Central Florida - the Kissimmee, St. Cloud, and Orlando areas were very affordable communities. They were known for two things: cattle and fruit. Huge tracts of land were available for developing Disneyworld. In fact, Mr. Disney flew over the area in November of 1963, the very day President Kennedy was shot! Initially, he looked at Seminole County and the area around the City of Sanford, but the community leaders had concerns about crime, rising land values, and strain to their infrastructure - water, sewer etc.

Of course, Disney wanted the park built as economically as possible. So, he didn't just announce his intentions. Using a series of dummy corporations, he was able to purchase the land he needed for Disneyworld, and do it in an affordable manner. Once he had 27,400 acres, he made the public announcement, and met with the State Legislature. He got them to grant him powers far beyond anything any other developer had ever known. In a very real sense, Disneyworld is a world unto itself.

At last, Walt had what he had always wanted: enough land to hold every dream and idea that he and his imagineers could conceive of for Disneyworld, the ability to control every aspect of the park, and the ability to shield the patrons from things he didn't like. An indication of how affordable the facility was, for the time, is that they didn't make use of parking garages. It was felt that they would be ugly. Instead, parking is spread out across acres and acres of land. Contrast that with a more recent park like Universal Studios, and you'll see that they use garages due to the cost to benefit ratio.

Disneyworld encompasses all of Walt's final ideas for a theme park, and all the lessons he learned from building Disneyland. Today, it stands at the single most popular vacation destination in the world. And, as Walt said: it was all built on a mouse.