The genesis of Walt Disneyland was marked by significant events, some of which were supportive of the project while others were detrimental to its development. The most striking feature of this company was its relationship with films and television shows from the time it was started. During the company’s construction phase, Disney needed a large amount of investment capital to complete the project. It forced him to strike a partnership deal with ABC Television, which led to the creation of the Mickey Mouse Club that helped Disney to complete the work. Disneyland was required to promote ABC in return. Thus, Disneyland emerged as the first park to be associated with a television series. The official opening of the park in 1955 was also broadcasted live on TV. The theme park is a clear illustration of how history, culture, reality, and fantasy can be combined to create an anti-geographical space of its own.
In 1952, the Disney family business experienced a crisis when Disney Walt showed his interest in creating Disneyland. Walt’s older brother Roy vehemently opposed the idea and managed to thwart the Walt’s initial plan of securing that startup capital that could help him finish the project. Roy only gave out ten thousand dollars to his brother, which showed his lack of support for the idea. However, Walt did not despair because of the little amount of money. He intelligently crafted his way out of this family stand-off by borrowing against his family’s life insurance, an initiative that enabled him to form a holding company that would oversee the activities of Disneyland. He formed Walter Elias Disney Enterprises, which helped him to plan the Disneyland business, and another venture called Retlaw, which he used to market the name, Walt Disney. His new ventures enabled him to separate himself from the family business and to plan for Disneyland independently without the influence of his wife and his brother Roy. However, the two brothers continued to quarrel over WED and Retlaw, a controversy that was solved when ABC Corporation came into the limelight.
Disney got his idea of creating theme parks from his frequent visits to carnivals and zoos with his family. These occasions showed him that there should be a park where family members can go and have fun instead of just passing by to see animals and artifacts. He then engaged himself in several years of study and planning, which culminated in the acquisition of 160 acres of land in California, where the theme park would be later opened on July 17, 1955. Disney adopted the concept of ‘know-how’ in acquiring these acres of land, and this can be learned from how it acquired and developed the property in Anaheim, California. After the theme park was established in California, the landowners around the park started to increase the price of their land, hence making its immediate value to soar. The situation occurred as a result of the demand for various services around the park. Disney also felt that the nightclubs within the area were also detracting customers away from the park.
Due to these externalities, Disney adopted a new strategy when he was developing another theme park in Orlando, Florida, in the 1960s. He bought extra acres of land than was needed for the amusement park. This situation helped him to make profits by reselling the land surrounding his park at higher prices. Thus, he managed to control the external forces he had experienced in his first project in California. He ensured that the purchases were carried out as secretly as possible as he feared that the landowners would drive the prices up if he were detected. To hide his identity, he formed small companies like the Reedy Creek Corporation and the Latin-American Development and Managers Corporation, which he used to make the purchases. He used this strategy to acquire 12,400 acres, though he did not stop because he saw the need to purchase more land parcels around the main area where the theme park would be established.
Disney managed to purchase 27, 400 acres of land by June 1965. In October 1965, when the news finally broke that Disneyland was behind the land purchases in Orlando, prices of the remaining pieces of land around the place went up from $183 to $1000 an acre within a short time. However, this came at a time when he had acquired the parcels he wanted. Walt Disney World was then permitted by the Florida authorities to establish an autonomous district. This obligation meant that the company was free to use its design of roads, buildings, sidewalks, lakes, and other infrastructures to develop the theme park and its surroundings.
Thus, Disneyland has a long and exciting history. The events that led to its establishment and success are worth mentioning because of how they contributed to the company’s success. The opening of the first theme park on July 17, 1955, was a significant event in the history of the company and marked the beginning of its long journey of developing more theme parks across the U.S. and other parts of the world.
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