Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Disney Bookshelf: PROJECT FUTURE Book Commentary

Having been interested in the process of how the Walt Disney World Resort came to be in Florida, I was excited to see the announcements about Chad Denver Emerson's work, PROJECT FUTURE: The Inside Story Behind the Creation Of Disney World and went looking for it immediately. Of course, the brick-and-mortar bookstores didn't carry it, so I finally ordered it from Amazon (with some other things) and had it in time for our trip to New York. I was then able to read it on the plane and before bed at the hotel.

What I got was a fascinating, if a bit dry in style, account of the events surrounding the decision to move ahead with the project, then of the intrigue and subterfuge used in acquiring the approximately 27,000 acres in central Florida, and the legal maneuverings that preceded the unique "Reedy Creek Improvement District" and the idea that Disney was acting as the government for their own land, creating their own regulations and building codes, issuing bonds for improvements to the property, and incorporating two municipalities in the area. The book spells out the planning of the development and details the construction process until the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. Well known names abound throughout the story, name Marvin Davis, Card Walker, Roy Disney, Joe Potter, Harrison "Buzz" Price, and of course Walt Disney, but the story gives names to the many behind-the-scenes players like Paul Helliwell, Jack and Bill Demetree, Robert Price Foster, and Roy Hawkins, who all played important and substantial roles in the land acquisition and the legal maneuverings before construction even began.

I don't think Disney fans wonder about why Disney wanted the structure of controlling the government processes for their land too much, but I think some people assume it was at least in part to circumvent certain codes for building and land use. It wasn't, not at all. Most of Disney's construction far exceeded existing standards. What they wanted was the ability to "innovate", to experiment by using better materials, better systems, new modes of transportation, and new ways to build their facilities. They got it and used it to create their city of the future. As we all know, it didn't turn out the way Walt, or maybe even Roy, envisioned, but it turned out okay.

I recommend this book to any Disneyphile, and anyone interested in the entertainment industry and its history.

1 comment:

Future Guy said...

Sounds interesting. I'll have to try to find a copy.