- It was Walt’s dream
When Walt Disney first began the work on what would become the Disneyland Resort, he encountered several difficulties. One of the largest problem was funding. He was trying to do something new and not a lot of people saw the value in it. Obviously, he was right and the original investors made a wise decision to take a chance on the concept. The problem at the beginning however was that other than the Disneyland Park and its parking lots Disney owned nothing in the area. Other individuals and companies took advantage of that fact and bought up all the property around the park and built their own hotels and restaurants. Even the Disneyland Hotel itself didn’t belong to the Disney Corporation until 1988. In Florida, Walt had the opportunity to rectify that mistake.
When they began buying land for the Walt Disney World Resort, they bought A LOT of it. Quietly and secretly through other corporate names, the Disney Company bought up 48 square miles of Florida land. The Disney brothers did not want to make the same mistakes or have the same problems they had with Disneyland. They worked co-operatively with state and local government to get the necessary authority and freedom to supervise all their own building and improvements. Walt envisioned not only, ‘the greatest attraction in the history of Florida’, but an experimental living community where alternative urban living methods could be used.
Walt did not survive to see even the beginning of his project. But after his death, his brother Roy continued the work. While the final result was not exactly what Walt had originally planned (EPCOT having been retooled into a technological & cultural exhibition rather than a living community), I believe that he would have been pleased. There is an area in Florida that contains not only the greatest constructed attraction in Florida, but perhaps in the world. While not quite an alternative community, the Disney built town of Celebration incorporated many of the urban planning ideas in Walt’s original designs. Most importantly, the park named after Walt has all the room it needs to grow, expand, and change. It can become all it needs to because Walt Disney dreamed of a place that was big enough to fit not only all of his dreams, but the dreams of those who would follow him.