Disney Created Fake Companies To Buy Up Land In Florida

By | September 3, 2019

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Left: Disney World's Magic Kingdo under construction prior to its 1971 opening. Right: A window on Main Street commemorates M.T. Lott Real Estate Investments. Sources: Chip HIRES / Contributor / Getty; mainstreetgazette.com

How did Walt Disney grab so much land in central Florida? Disney World may be the most popular tourist destination on the planet today, but in the early '60s it was a secret project, involving sneaky real estate purchases by companies that couldn't be traced to the Mickey Mouse operation. 

Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955, and had been a huge hit, and entertainment pioneer Walt Disney was looking to build something bigger and better. He considered building a second location in New Jersey, but climate stood in the way, as a New Jersey park would have to be seasonal. Disney also considered St. Louis as the potential location for an indoor park. During this time, he also had been eyeing Florida.

On a flight over Orlando in a borrowed plane, Disney noticed two things: a highway system to handle the many visitors he anticipated, and lots and lots of land.

Post-Disneyland Plans

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Florida before the park was built. Source: (quora)

While Disneyland had been a success, Disney wanted this new amusement park to be much more. He envisioned something closer to a planned community, avoiding the cheap hotels and neon that had sprung up around Disneyland.

For Disney to open the Disney World that Walt envisioned, the company needed to buy the land, thousands of acres of it. The initial goal was to acquire 10,000 acres of land, a purchase that had the potential to be quite expensive, especially in light of Disney’s success. Disney was concerned that if landowners learned their identity, the landowners would drive up prices and make the project prohibitively expensive.