Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Greatest Dream of Walt Disney's Life

"The construction of Walt Disney World presents an immense challenge. However, under a policy of prudent management and orderly development, I am convinced that we can bring to reality the greatest dream of Walt Disney's life."

So said Roy Disney on April 30, 1969.

On that day, officials from the Walt Disney Company unveiled their most detailed plans to date for what would become the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Roy Disney, with Donn Tatum and Card Walker, revealed what was then considered to be "Phase One" of Walt Disney World, much of which would be realized by opening day on October 1, 1971.

Press materials released that day noted:

2,500 acres, including some 450 acres of waterways and beaches, have been master planned for resort and recreation, with the first facilities scheduled to open to the public on October, 1971. Planned for construction before and during the first five years of operation will be a new "Magic Kingdom" amusement theme park similar to California's Disneyland, five related resort hotels and an entrance complex. Varying in size from 500 to 700 rooms, the resort hotels will be themed along Contemporary, Polynesian, Asian, Venetian and Persian motifs.

Showcased especially were the concepts and designs for the Magic Kingdom:

Inside, visitors will literally bridge time and theme when they step into seven realms -- Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Liberty Square and Holidayland.

The architectural styling of Main Street in Florida will be "Eastern Seashore Resort Victorian," a decorative and flamboyant turn-of-the-century decor making extensive use of glass and wrought iron.

Throughout the theme park, visitors will discover many new concepts in amusement attractions which are now under development at WED Enterprises, Inc., the Disney architectural, design and engineering subsidiary in Glendale, California. Among them will be a series of shows "brought to life" by the patented Disney "Audio-Animatronics" process of three-dimensional entertainment.

On stage in Frontierland, the Country Bear Band will present a foot stompin' country and western hoe-down starring the zaniest group of bears ever assembled. These "Audio-Animatronics" animals will sing and swing and strum in the finest tradition of wild western musicals.

Nearby will be found Thunder Mesa, a spectacular panorama, where the old west will live again through a series of exciting adventures. Designed to resemble a "table-top mountain," typical of those on southwestern deserts, it will offer a pueblo-style village and other attractions, including the Western River Expedition, a frontier fantasy on the grand scale of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" in California's Disneyland.

The colonial shops and stores of Liberty Square, an entirely new land created for Walt Disney World's "Magic Kingdom," will depict America's past at the time of our nation's founding. Highlight of the area will be a replica of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, which will house One Nation Under God, an inspiring dramatization about the American Constitution and the 37 Presidents who have led our nation. In the finale, through the wonder of three-dimensional "Audio-Animatronics," the chief executives will appear together in the "Hall of Presidents" roll call presentation.

In Fantasyland, visitors may stroll through Pinocchio Street or attend the all-new Mickey Mouse Musical Revue, a spectacular "Audio-Animatronics" visit with 60 of the famous characters from Walt Disney films down through the years. Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Three Caballeros and all the gang will appear "on stage" to sing the songs and play the music, all the way from "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" (The Three Little Pigs) to "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" (Song of the South).

Towering over Tomorrowland will be the Space Mountain, twenty stories tall. This huge structure will house a number of adventures and attractions themed to the world of the future. Among these will be four high-speed "rocket sled" tracks, which will climb the outside of the mountain, then plunge inside for a dark ride, simulating a trip through outer space. Track engineering was so complex that it had to be worked out by computer. Also in Tomorrowland will be found the RCA System Communication Center, as well as a major exhibit sponsored by the Monsanto Company, and other attractions to be sponsored by American industry.

Holidayland, Pinocchio Street, the RCA System Communication Center and Thunder Mesa and the Western River Expedition would all enter the ranks of Lost Imagineering as those early conceptualizations evolved and changed. Card Walker spoke to other such concepts that day that suffered similar fates:

"Because of its size and scope, the master plan for the project will take many years to complete. Future plans call for the addition of an 'airport of the future,' offering service to private and executive aircraft, as well as commercial charters; an industrial park designed to showcase American industry at work; and the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow."


Ryan P. Wilson said...

This is fantastic Jeff, thanks for sharing it with all of us!

Unknown said...


What a great post!

So, when are the tours of the 2719 Hyperion Archives going to start?

Anonymous said...

Boy could we use the vision and sound judgement of Card Walker, Don Tatum, and Roy O. Disney now! Great post.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

If the 2719 Archives are opening up for tours I am on my way up from Asheville to get in line immediately!

Craig Wheeler said...


Anonymous said...

What a great post! I love nostalgia!