Wednesday, March 24, 2010

That's Expensive!

After reading the book by Marc Eliot, I pulled out my copy of Michael Barrier's The Animated Man and was scanning some of the strike information it contained. It is very similar to the material described in Eliot's book, with the major difference being the way Barrier viewed Disney's motivation in the whole thing. Barrier interviews a lot of people (as does Eliot), and describes events similarly.

But what drew me (as is usually the case) was the chapters on the planning and building of Disneyland. As I read through the chapter devoted to the initial impetus and planning of that park, I was again struck by the cost of that place. Not that it was that expensive in today's dollars - if someone told you that you could build that park for 17 million dollars, you'd probably start lining up investors and bankers. Of course, 17 million wasn't chump change in the 1950's. Without doing the math, it's probably in the billions today.

So here was Walt, pretty much on his own, and he's spending hundreds of thousands out of his pocket to fund the planning, the concept art, the model work, and some basic "research" into building and/or buying the attractions, and he hasn't spent a dime on construction. The initial estimates were around 5 million, but I don't know if that includes the purchase of the land. The project clocked in at something around 17 million by opening day. With Walt's attitude of "accept nothing but perfection" in the construction, it was bound to go up.

So here is me, sitting in my fantasy world and thinking of some day trying to spearhead development of some sort of theme park. I can't draw the concept art (not really, anyway...not to the level of quality and detail that's needed) and I don't have contacts in industry or in banking who could help back it. Not to mention that I don't have the equivalent of hundreds of thousands to pump into it. Just another reminder of how unrealistic this pipe dream is.

And it is also a testament to Walt Disney and his vision and drive that he COULD get the thing built, on a deadline and with no real plan (unless you count Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens) for how to do it or what to put where.


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