Walt Disney Biography
The life of Walt Disney and how he came to create his famous Walt Disney World.
On December 15, 1966, just ten days after his 65th birthday, Walt Disney died. He was in St. Joseph's Hospital across the street from the Disney Studio. Walt Disney had been diagnosed with cancer in his left lung and had undergone surgery to remove it just a few weeks prior to his death. The influence of Disney's work can be clearly seen in the worldwide grief and sympathy.
Before he died, Walt Disney had started his plans for Disney World in Orlando, Florida. He had purchased a little over 27,000 acres of land and was keeping his plans quiet. His brother, Roy O. Disney took over and finished the final project Walt Disney has started.
Walt Disney's vision included an amusement park and resort amenities. There would be a man-made lagoon surrounded by themed hotels. He wanted to create a vacation kingdom that included water recreation activities, golf and nightclubs. He died before seeing any of his Orlando dreams come true, but his brother Roy finished it for him.
By 1970, Disney had begun to landscape the World property with different varieties of plants and trees they had grown in their private tree farms.
Millions of earth were dug up from the lagoon and a three-story building was built there. This 3-story building is actually what the Magic Kingdom is today. The top two floors are what guests see and the first floor is an underground system of tunnels. Disney wanted workers and characters to be able to go from one section to another without being seen by the guests.
Disney also had to supply its own wardrobe department to create costumes for workers and props, its own center to store and prepare food for the workers and guests, and the world's largest laundry facility in the world for the costumes and linens the workers and guests used.
Disney began building the Cinderella Castle towards the end of 1969. It took them 18 months to complete it and stood 189 feet high when finished. There is an apartment that was built in the castle's upper floor for the Disney family but it has never been completed or used.
After the park was completed, workers were needed to run it. Over 100,000 applicants were viewed either by interview or mailed applications. Only 1 in 12 applicants were chosen. Each worker hired had to attend Disney University to learn the Disney way of doing things.
On October 1, 1971, Disney World opened with only 10,000 guests arriving. By November, however, Florida experienced the worst traffic jam in history as Interstate 4 was backed up for miles with Disney visitors.
Disney World had cost about $400 million by the time it opened it doors and over 9,000 workers had built it. Roy O. Disney had completed his late brother's dream and on December 20th, two months after Disney World opened, he joined him. Two men that brought joy to millions did not live to truly see their accomplishments.