A long, long, time ago there was a dad who took his two little girls to an amusement park. While the dad was happy to see his two little girls enjoying the rides he was sad because he and all the other parents were just sitting around on benches watching their children have all the fun. The dad wished he could go on the rides with his children but the seats weren’t big enough for adults.
One day while in the amusement park sitting on a bench as usual, the dad had a dream. He dreamed someday he would to build an amusement park where both children and adults could spend time with one another and even go on rides together. This was to be a place for families to go where they could share each and every experience. So the dad set out to make his dream a reality.
Despite criticism from some and lack of support by others that dream came to fruition when Disneyland was built and its doors opened on July 17, 1955. The park became an overnight sensation and in just its seventh week of existence the park’s one millionth customer entered through its magical gates. The dad who saw his dream come to life was Walter Elias Disney.
As proud as Walt was of this magnificent park he was also aware that it would be difficult to get people living in the eastern section of the country to travel to Disneyland which was very far and too costly for many. Walt also had bigger dreams that required a bigger space and he just didn’t own enough land on this California property to accomplish his plan.
It was in 1959 that Walt Disney began exploring areas of the country to purchase enough land to build an even bigger dream. Months and months and months went by and after a long exhausting search Walt Disney decided the best place for his second park was the Orlando, Florida area. It wasn’t until 1964 that Walt Disney began to purchase the land in Florida. He did this by creating dummy corporations so no one would know it was the Disney Company purchasing the land. Walt feared that if word got out he was looking to buy the land the prices would drastically increase. This plan to buy the land became known to Walt’s inner circle as the “Florida Project.”
When Walt Disney started acquiring real estate he bought both the good land and the bad land. The land acquisition was just another step in building his dream. It was Walt’s dream to build a place welcoming all visitors including those suffering from despair, disillusionment, and hardship. This was to be a place where everyone could come and find happiness and joyfulness.
Once all the property was purchased the Disney Company went to work. They took the swamp land and the bad land and turned it into good land. They brought in hundreds of laborers from the skilled to the downtrodden and gave them hope and promise of a brighter future.
Although Walt Disney passed away on December 15, 1966 before completion of the project his brother Roy O. Disney carried on with his brother’s dream. Then on December 20, 1971 just over two months after Walt Disney World opened Roy O. Disney died leaving many to wonder if Walt’s dream would ever be completed. Thankfully, there were many imagineers at the Disney Company who knew both Walt and Roy and they were able to keep the dream alive.
From the beginning Walt Disney World wasn’t just about making Walt’s dream come true it was also about making our dreams come true.
Today, Walt Disney World is still the place where people go to escape misery, depression, and the stress of everyday life. It’s the place where the problems of the rest of the world are locked outside its gates and only the goodness of mankind is allowed in. It’s the place where people go to find hope and joy and build their own dreams and it remains as it always has been, the “Happiest Place On Earth.”
Photo credit: NDM#118
Contributed by: Stuart S. (NDD #47). Stuart is our resident Disney geek and creator of Disney Geek Dad.