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Ayefour Publishing

NEW from Ayefour Publishing!

FOUR DECADES OF MAGIC
Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World

Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-43101-7 | $19.95 | Order online


Over the last four decades, the Walt Disney World Resort has created magical memories for millions of guests. From its early days as a single theme park with a handful of resorts and amenities to its current roster of multiple theme parks, water parks, resorts, and other vacation destinations, Disney World has, in many ways, defined the Great American vacation.In honor of the resort’s 40th anniversary in October 2011, “Four Decades of Magic” brings together the most diverse and complete group of Disney experts yet to share their memories, stories, and experiences with the world’s most magical place. Whether you’ve been to Disney World many times or just a few, this special compilation will introduce you to unique, true life tales that have caused this magical destination to hold such a special place in the hearts of so many.Contributors | Reviews

Now Available!

THE VAULT OF WALT
Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told

by Jim Korkis | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-40242-0 | $19.95 | Order online


What did Walt Disney really think about religion and prayer? Why did the FBI keep a file of memorandum about the original Mickey Mouse Club? Was Uncle Remus really banned from attending the movie premiere of Song of the South? Were there dozens of feral cats living in Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland? All of these true tales and more are waiting to be discovered between these covers.Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian whose hundreds of articles and presentations about all things Disney have been enjoyed by people world wide for decades. Utilizing over thirty years of his personal interviews with Disney animators, Imagineers and associates as well as obscure and long forgotten documents and many years of research, Jim weaves timeless tales and fascinating secrets about the “lost” world of Disney.

PROJECT FUTURE
The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World

Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-34777-6 | $14.95 | Order online


From obscure legal strategies to spy-like maneuvers, Disney’s eastern plans, code named Project Future, were built upon a brilliant mix of fantasy and reality. The complexity of the final result, the Walt Disney World Resort, was rivaled only by the complexity of the method used to achieve it. Throughout the entire effort, two restrictions repeated themselves at almost every stage: Disney’s insistence on secrecy in the process and Disney’s desire for control of the product. This is not to say Disney had any nefarious intentions with these goals. Instead, the commitment to secrecy and control were natural extensions of frustrations Disney had encountered in previous creative projects.Project Future would be Disney’s most daunting challenge yet. For the grand vision to succeed, Disney examined lessons learned from the past and committed to avoiding them in the future. In the end, Disney’s quest for a Florida project would be built less on pixie dust than on a determined, clever effort to turn an isolated piece of Central Florida into one of the world’s leading tourist destinations.This is the story of how Project Future forever changed the American amusement industry…. Read more.

 

 

Excerpt

Project Future | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-34777-6 | $14.95 | Order online


Chapter 1
The Eastward Search Begins | 1959-1963

With high expectations, on July 17, 1955, in Anaheim, California, Walt Disney officially opened Disneyland, a new type of amusement park that promised a family-friendly form of entertainment different from the notorious midways of the era. Media, dignitaries, and leaders from around the world gathered in Anaheim for the debut. The buzz was palpable. Disney, the inspired creator of fantasy through film, was now bringing fantasy to life.

Despite a host of operational challenges in Disneyland’s early days, the park quickly became a major success. It was the culmination of Walt’s innovative vision of a place where the family could ride rides together in a safe and clean setting, a place the entire family could enjoy together—an idea that had lingered in Walt’s mind for several years.

Two years earlier, Walt had approached several close friends who were architects to get their input on how a Disney amusement park might be uniquely created. He wanted to use the latest in design and construction techniques to bring his vision into reality. At the same time, he knew such a venture would have to make business sense, so he commissioned feasibility and site studies for the proposed project. Fortunately, the studies revealed that a market did exist for his new type of family-oriented amusement venture.

With Disneyland a hit on the west coast, exporting Walt’s unique brand of recreation to the east coast made perfect sense. The idea of building an east coast project was also based on practical concerns. Disney had hired a large stable of creative talent to develop and to open Disneyland. Now that it was open, the company could hire some of that talent to continue to work on new projects for the park. However, expansion at Disneyland alone would not support Walt’s growing interest in amusement attractions nor would it provide enough work to keep all of these workers employed.

Even with Disneyland’s early success, the company was searching for other ways to defray the costs needed to develop the new technologies that would enable Walt’s visionary ideas, an especially urgent need since the possibility of building a Disney project on the east coast seemed likely. Somehow Disney had to find a way to reduce expenses without reducing creativity. The 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City offered the perfect interim step. Walt could develop attractions for the fair and test whether his type of entertainment would work with eastern U.S. audiences, a large group that so far comprised only a small part of Disneyland’s attendance.

Ultimately, Disney’s creative arm, WED Enterprises, entered into agreements with General Electric, Ford Motor Company, PepsiCo, and the State of Illinois, Walt’s birthplace, to develop attractions for the fair. Yet by its very nature, a World’s Fair is a temporary effort with a distinct beginning and ending date. If Walt wanted a continuing presence in the eastern part of the United States, he would need a permanent project.

With Disneyland’s success increasing every year, Disney found itself with many suitors for another amusement park. In fact, within a year of Disneyland’s 1955 opening, the company received numerous letters from individuals throughout the eastern U.S. proposing expansion into their city or state. Almost all of the letters received a polite response that Disney was not interested. Every now and then, though, one of the ideas would pique Walt’s interest.

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Reviews

Four Decades of Magic | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-43101-7 | $19.95 | Order online


“Four Decades of Magic is a terrific stroll down memory lane for any Disney fan and the perfect tribute for Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary. The book knits together its own “Carousel of Progress” of sorts through a collection of entertaining tales and insightful essays by notable Disney experts about favorite parts of Disney World’s magical journey to date. Four Decades is a charming anthology of Disney memories and intriguing behind-the-scenes insights that range from If You Had Wings and The Hoop Dee Doo Review, to “resorts that never were” and the Beastly Kingdom section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom that never materialized.”

Vicki Johnson, Principal/CEO of Vicki Johnson Communications, LLC, former Walt Disney Parks & Resorts executive


“Four Decades of Magic brings together fascinating stories about the Walt Disney World Resort. As a former Disney executive who started out as an hourly Cast Member, this collection rekindled fond memories of my favorite parts of the magic that I experienced over the years.’”

Steven K. Brown, CEO of accesso, former Walt Disney Parks & Resorts executive

 

 

Reviews

Project Future | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-34777-6 | $14.95 | Order online


“While millions of people visit the world’s number one vacation destination every year, few are privy to how it all came to be. Now, we each have a chance to step back in time and become a part of history with this captivating recount of the making of Walt Disney World.”

Joni Newkirk, CEO, Integrated Insight, Inc.; Former SVP Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


“Emerson provides a fascinating, fast-paced story of how Walt Disney was able to bring his vision of Walt Disney World to reality. Project Future is required reading for anyone who wants to walk in Walt’s shoes, admire his tremendous imagination, and learn from his business acumen. Emerson powerfully demonstrates how Walt delivered on his expression, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’”

Brad Rex, former Vice President of Epcot


“…Project Future is a compelling story that takes the reader on a fun ride back to the beginning of Walt Disney World.”

Greg Emmer, ORCA Consulting; Former Sr. VP Disney

 

 

Key Players

Project Future | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-34777-6 | $14.95 | Order online


Key Players and Their Roles in Project Future

Emily Bavar
a reporter with the Orlando Sentinel-Star. After attending a press event in Anaheim, California, to discuss Disneyland’s tenth anniversary, in October 1965 she reported the “mystery industry” buying land in Florida was Disney. While other reporters had written articles suggesting that Disney might be the mystery land purchaser, Bavar is usually credited as the reporter who first broke the news.


Irlo Bronson
a Florida State Senator who owned a large tract of land in Osceola County, Florida. In May 1965, Disney purchased 8,380 acres of this land for Project Future from Senator Bronson at the cost of $900,000.


Haydon Burns
the Governor of Florida who negotiated with Disney in 1965 regarding Disney’s decision to locate Project Future in Florida. Burns made the official announcement of the project at the Florida League of Municipalities Convention on Monday, October 25, 1965 following Emily Bavar’s article disclosing Disney as the mystery company buying large amounts of land in Central Florida. Burns lost re-election in the 1966 Democratic primary before Disney introduced its legislative package in the Florida state legislature.


Marvin Davis
an art director who designed much of the Disneyland plan. Walt later tapped him to design the Project Future master plan, including work on the Magic Kingdom and the original concept of EPCOT.


Jack and Bill Demetree
two brothers who sold Disney an option in 1964 for the surface rights to a twelve thousand-plus acre tract that composed a significant portion of the Project Future property. Disney exercised that option in June 1965 after negotiating with Tufts University for the subsurface rights to the property. The Demetrees had originally purchased the parcel in 1959 from Senator Irlo Bronson, who had purchased the property’s surface rights from Tufts University.


Tom DeWolf
a Florida attorney who practiced with Paul Helliwell’s law firm. DeWolf provided legal and regulatory counsel for the purchase of Project Future parcels and for the development of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. DeWolf was also a long-time Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for the Reedy Creek Improvement District.


Billy Dial
the Orlando banking executive and business leader whose help and influence kept Disney’s identity as the mystery industry secret until the company could complete the purchase of Project Future’s vast land holdings. Dial also played a significant role in convincing several hold-out landowners to sell their parcels to Disney-controlled entities.


Roy O. Disney
Disney’s older brother who focused on the company’s business interests. After Walt’s death in 1966, Roy Disney made the decision to go forward with Project Future.


Walter Elias “Walt” Disney
the youngest Disney son who was the creative visionary of Disneyland and Project Future, later named Disney World. The theme parks exist because of him.


Bob Elrod
the well-respected Florida State Senator whom Disney tapped to shepherd its Project Future legislative package through the state legislature. The legislative package ultimately passed the State House and Senate with only one vote against it.


Robert Price Foster
the Disney attorney who had served as legal counsel for Disneyland. Walt Disney assigned Foster the responsibility of identifying and acquiring land for Project Future. Foster also played a significant role in the development, passage, and implementation of the legislative package for Project Future.


Helmut Furth
an attorney at the Donovan, Leisure firm. He served as Disney’s outside legal counsel. Furth drafted much of the legislation submitted to the Florida legislature. The legislation ultimately made Project Future a reality.


Roy Hawkins
a well-connected Florida businessman who provided political and real estate counsel to Disney during the identification of land and its acquisition process. Hawkins worked closely with Robert Foster and Paul Helliwell in securing most of the Project Future parcels.


Samuel Halloway
an entrepreneur who established several business ventures developed along with the Disney properties. Most recently, worked on online ventures, most notably a number of jewelry sites (the most successful being Pokoko) featuring high fashion items like statement rings and choker collar necklaces.


Paul Helliwell
a Florida attorney who served as Disney’s lead legal counsel in Florida during the Project Future process. In addition to providing legal and regulatory advice, Helliwell used his extensive business and political connections to provide valuable strategic advice for the project.


Claude Kirk
the Florida Governor who succeeded Haydon Burns and served as governor during the passage of Project Future’s legislative package. Kirk signed the actual legislation on May 12, 1967.


William Lund
the Economic Research Associates official who originally travelled to Florida in late 1963 to begin identifying potential areas and parcels for Project Future. Lund toured the state, including the Orlando area, on behalf of Disney under the strict instructions not to identify his client or negotiate for actual parcels.


John MacArthur
a colorful South Florida billionaire who had made much of his money by starting the Bankers Life and Casualty Company. MacArthur owned large amounts of property in the Palm Beach area. In the late 1950s, Walt Disney and other company officials travelled to South Florida on different occasions to consider the possibility of building a company project in the area. The company ultimately opted not to build in that part of Florida.


Harrison “Buzz” Price
the head of Economic Research Associates, the consulting firm Walt Disney hired to provide economic forecasting and other planning services such as initial land identification for Project Future. Disney had previously hired Price to provide similar services for Disneyland and other proposed Disney projects.


Joe Potter
a former executive with the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. Disney hired him to manage the development and construction of Project Future. Potter would later serve as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for the Reedy Creek Improvement District.


Card Walker
the Disney executive who originally supported building Disney’s eastern U.S. project in St. Louis or the eastern seaboard as opposed to Florida. He later became both Chairman and CEO of Disney during the time the company opened the EPCOT theme park.

 

 

Excerpt

Vault of Walt | by Jim Korkis | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-40242-0 | $19.95 | Order online


Excerpt taken from Part 3: Disney Park Stories

TOM SAWYER ISLAND

Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland underwent a major transformation in 2007 and became the Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, theming into the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, replacing the simple charm of Mark Twain’s world. Tom Sawyer Island at Walt Disney World’s Frontierland has remained the same for forty years and still showcases some of the original ideas Walt Disney had for the location at Disneyland.

“I put in all the things I wanted to do as a kid—and couldn’t,” Walt explained about the Disneyland Tom Sawyer Island to a Reader’s Digest reporter in 1960. “Including getting into something without a ticket.”

Tom Sawyer Island is truly the only part of Disneyland Park that Walt Disney single handedly designed himself. He always planned for there to be an island in the middle of the Rivers of America but he debated about what that island was going to be.

From Walt’s 1953 sales pitch for Disneyland: “Treasure Island. Mickey Mouse, the best known personality in the world has his Mickey Mouse Club headquarters at Disneyland located on Treasure Island in the middle of the river, a fantastic hollow tree and treehouse serves as the Club meeting place. The hollow tree is several stories high, with interesting rooms and lookout spots for club members. There is a Pirate cove and buried treasure on the island…and direct from this location the Club presents The Mickey Mouse Club Television Show.”

At one point, there were designs for the island that had included miniature reproductions of major American historical landmarks like Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Independence Hall that would have been viewed from the Mark Twain steamboat.

While many Disney fans know that Herb Ryman did the artwork of the original map of Disneyland and Peter Ellenshaw did the artwork for the huge map of Disneyland that Walt frequently used on the television program, few realize that it was Imagineer Marvin Davis who labored through dozens of map designs trying to find a workable pattern for the Disneyland that finally opened in 1955. He struggled over the contours of Tom Sawyer Island but his efforts failed to please Walt Disney.

“Give me that thing,” Davis remembers Walt saying. That night Walt worked for hours in his red barn workshop in his backyard at his home in the Holmby Hills. The next morning, he laid tracing paper on Davis’s desk and said, “Now that’s the way it should be.” The island was built according to Walt’s design.

Marvin Davis stated, “The general shape of the island, the way it curves and so forth, was Walt’s idea. The idea for Pirate’s Cove on Tom Sawyer Island was also Walt’s.”

Imagineer Herb Ryman remembered, “I was originally called upon to name some of the nomenclature for Tom Sawyer Island. Walt came up to me and he said, ‘Herbie, would you think up some names?’ Obviously you think about Smuggler’s Gulch and Robber’s Cove and kind of inspiring names that little children would be excited about. And then later one day, Bill Cottrell told me, he and Walt rode around on the Mark Twain and Walt had this map in front of him where these names were allocated according to my designation. And Walt said, ‘Why should we let Herbie have all the fun and name all these names on the island? Why can’t I name these?’ And Bill said, ‘Yes, I think you could.’ So Walt re-named all these names.”

“When you go to Frontierland, make sure that Walt takes you to Tom Sawyer Island,” said Imagineer Dick Irvine to a Reader’s Digest reporter in 1960. “Walt was brought up in Missouri—Mark Twain country—and that island is all his. He didn’t let anybody help him design it.”

Actually, Vic Greene, the original art director for Frontierland, worked with Imagineers Herb Ryman and Claude Coats to produce the first designs for the Island based on Walt’s ideas, including the barrel bridge that appeared in 1957. Sam McKim did some finished renderings for the Old Mill and Fort Wilderness as well as the tree house. Bill Evans did the landscaping. Emile Kuri located some “second hand” animals at a museum to install on the remote end of the island.

During the second week of June 1956, advertisements appeared of a raft with a pirate skull-and-crossbones flag making its way to Tom Sawyer Island. It proclaimed:

“Now Open at Disneyland! Another NEW attraction! Tom Sawyer Island! Cross the river on A RAFT…explore INJUN JOE’S CAVE…with the SUSPENSION BRIDGE…visit FORT WILDERNESS…see the BURNING SETTLER’S CABIN. Relive exciting days out of America’s lusty past. Explore all the magical mysteries of an island built just for FUN! Whatever you want to do, you will find fun and excitement for the whole family at this newest Disneyland attraction…Tom Sawyer Island.”

A billboard during the construction announced that the island would open June 1st. It didn’t. Opening ceremonies were held at noon on Saturday June 16, 1956 at the raft landing on the island. Two young guests were on hand in costume as Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher, and appeared in many newspaper and magazine photos with Walt.

The two children from Hannibal, Missouri, Perva Lou Smith and Chris Winkler, had won the very first of the now-annual “Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher” contests in Hannibal.

Although they did not know it when they competed, an added bonus for Hannibal’s 1956 Tom and Becky was a chance to travel to Disneyland, stay at the Disneyland Hotel and together with Walt Disney himself preside over the dedication ceremonies of Tom Sawyer Island.

Perva Lou and Chris carried with them from Hannibal water from the Mississippi River and earth from Jackson’s Island (the model for the island frequented by Tom and Huck in Twain’s novels). With Walt’s help, the two kids christened the raft with a jug of Mississippi River water and planted a box of soil from Jackson’s Island near the foot of the landing pier. The island was “officially” made a part of Missouri.

After the dedication, there was a tour of the island, including Injun Joe’s Cave (actually an above-ground building covered with earth and landscaping to give the illusion of descending into a cave), Huckleberry Finn’s Fishing Pier (the area was stocked with 15,000 catfish, perch and bluegill for guests to catch with a bamboo pole and a worm and Walt caught a fish for the press that day but it got away before he could land it), Fort Wilderness, and other points of interest.

One of the biggest kids of all was Walt Disney himself, who once the island was officially opened, would often take a pole and fish from the dock with the other youngsters. One day, after fishing for some time without so much as a nibble, Disney turned to the dock attendant and said, “There’s no fish in the river!”

The attendant replied, “There’s fish there, all right, but the water’s so muddy, they can’t even see the bait.”

Walt responded, “Well, I fished the Missouri River and it was a lot muddier than this, but the fish sure saw the bait!”

The fishing was soon eliminated because it became quite a challenge for guests to walk around Disneyland the rest of the day with their increasingly pungent catch that soon ended up discarded in some unusual locations.

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Reviews

Vault of Walt | by Jim Korkis | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-40242-0 | $19.95 | Order online


Reviews

“Jim’s vast knowledge of Disney has constantly amazed me and he understands how the Disney Studio, Theme Parks, and Disneyana all tie together. Jim is an excellent Disney Heritage writer and speaker, and it’s about time he put together this collection of stories he has gathered over the years.”

Disney Legend (2005) Tom Nabbe, Disneyland’s original Tom Sawyer


“Jim’s story telling has always mesmerized me. Now some of his Disney tidbits are in a book! Let me put it this way. Chatting with Jim is a delicious nine course meal. Hours with his book will be a mouthwatering feast.”

Author and actress Margaret Kerry, original reference model for Tinker Bell in Disney’s Peter Pan


“No one knows more hidden nooks and crannies in the vast history of Disney animation than Jim Korkis. I’m delighted that he’s gathered his fact-filled columns in this book.”

Disney Authority Leonard Maltin, author of The Disney Films and host and consultant of Disney Treasures DVDs.


“Disney history is full of unexplored byways, and no one has done a better job of mapping many of them than Jim Korkis. Even the most knowledgeable Disney buffs will be surprised and delighted by what they find in his book.”

Disney history expert Michael Barrier, author of The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney


“Disney stories are insightful as well as fun, and no one tells them better than Jim Korkis. Jim truly loves his material, and so will you. I heartily recommend his new book and I guarantee you’ll love every page.”

Artist and writer Floyd Norman, whose career at Disney spanned from Walt’s era through Eisner’s reign

 

 

Foreword

Four Decades of Magic | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-43101-7 | $19.95 | Order online


FOREWORD

Given that nearly a billion people have visited Walt Disney World since this destination resort first opened back in October of 1971, it seems kind of hard to believe that there was once a time when Mouse House execs actually felt compelled to try & explain just what Disney World was going to be. How “Project Florida” was going to be different from the original Disneyland Park which Walt had built among the orange groves of Anaheim, CA. back in 1955.

And yet – if you were driving through Central Florida from January 1970 through September 1971 – you could get off I-4 at State Road 535 and then go visit the Walt Disney World Preview Center. Which was the very first building on property that was open to the public.

Inside of this relatively modest structure (which is still there, by the way. It currently houses the offices of the Amateur Athletics Union) were a variety of models and artists renderings. Which then allowed tourists to “ooh” & “aah” at all the WED-designed wonders yet to come. Beautifully themed structures like Thunder Mesa (which was to have housed the Western River Expedition ride) not to mention highly ornate hotels like the Persian Resort with its white columns and huge blue dome.

What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Western River Expedition? Well, then it’s lucky for you that you just now picked up this copy of Four Decades of Magic. For this 379-page paperback happens to feature an excellent essay by Mike Lee which will then tell you all about this never-built attraction.

And if you were previously unaware of the Persian Resort (which was one of the five monorail hotels that were supposed to have been built during “Phase One” of Walt Disney World’s construction), then check out the chapter that Lou Mongello contributed to this book. Which will tell you all about many of the other amazing hotels that the Imagineers designed for WDW over the past 40 years that never quite made it off the drawing board.

That – to me, anyway – is the real charm of Four Decades of Magic. This book contains the wisdom of some of Disney World’s most dedicated fans, Webmasters, and historians who are now sharing their insights about this Resort. Not to mention all sorts of great behind-the-scenes stories which will then explain why certain rides and shows eventually turned out the way that they did.

The topics covered here run the gamut from unique pieces of entertainment that have been up and running for almost as long as WDW has (see Greg Ehrbar’s terrific “Much Ado about Hoop-Dee-Doo” essay), short-lived attractions (see George Taylor’s feature on Discovery Island and then learn of the mystery of Ben Gunn’s buried treasure) as well as much-beloved parts of this Resort that have recently disappeared (see Jim Korkis’ article about the late, great Pleasure Island). You’ll also get the chance to explore whole lands that were never built (see Scott & Carol Holmes’ Beastly Kingdom piece) as well as parts of WDW theme parks that didn’t quite reach their full potential (check out Tom Corless’ Sunset Boulevard story and then find out about all the cool stuff that Disney’s Hollywood Studios visitors have missed out on).

In short, Four Decades of Magic is the perfect way to celebrate the rich history and heritage of the Walt Disney World Resort. Which – not that long ago – wasn’t really all that much to look at. Just a single modest building built right at the edge of Lake Buena Vista, along what’s now known at Hotel Plaza Drive. Some 5 miles southeast of where a huge piece of swampland was being transformed into “The Vacation Kingdom of the World.”
Which – FYI – is the very clunky catchphrase that Disney executives came up with back in 1969. Back when they were still struggling to come up with a succinct way to describe to would-be WDW visitors what exactly Walt Disney World was going to be like.

What a mouthful, huh? Makes you kind of glad that at least some things have changed over these past 40 years, doesn’t it?

Jim Hill
Editor / Publisher
JimHillMedia.com

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Introduction

Four Decades of Magic | Ayefour Publishing | Trade Paperback | 978-0-615-43101-7 | $19.95 | Order online


INTRODUCTION

As someone who is nearing his 40th birthday, four decades sure seems like a long time. From growing up in the Detroit area to attending school in Nashville, and ultimately settling with my wife and children in Montgomery, Alabama, I’ve experienced a life full of adventures over the last forty years.

Little did I know upon being born in May 1972 that the life span of Disney World would so closely track mine. I wonder if that’s why I enjoy Disney World so much—it’s almost as if we’ve grown up together over these last four decades.

During those years, we’ve shared many good times and interesting experiences. Everything from elaborate press events to simple family gatherings. All in all, my Disney World past has enjoyed a whole range of experiences. I suspect many of you can say the same thing.

That’s what makes Disney World such an interesting place. From around the entire world, people who like to dream (myself included), are quickly comforted by the fact that in the middle of Central Florida there exists a place designed by a dreamer for the purpose of dreaming.


Having passed in 1966, Walter Elias Disney did not live to see the actual opening of Disney World. That’s not to say, though, that he never envisioned it in vivid, life-like Technicolor in his mind’s eye. While today’s version of Disney World is different in many ways from his original plan, it is clear that both share the same goal:Create a place where families can get away from the challenges of everyday life, enjoy time together, and experience those magical stories that had long been merely the province of books and movies.

Though he was never able to attend the completed Disney World, Walt did live long enough to spend nearly a year visiting the then-open fields and swamps that would amazingly become a worldwide destination. Out of the muck and mire rose a place whose mere mention brings a smile and memories to so many of us.

If there is such a thing as “good ghosts”, then the smiling spectre of Walt Disney benevolently haunts these many acres—taking care to notice the joy that something so complex in its creation, yet so simple in its goal, has provided.

We hope that this book triggers more of those smiles and memories for you. We hope that as you read through the stories that these great Disney-focused writers have shared, something will bring back an event or two during these last forty years that brought you happiness.

Maybe it was your first glimpse of the Castle. Or your best seat ever for the 3pm parade down Main Street. It could be a quiet afternoon you spent exploring Fort Wilderness or the mesmerizing music that greets guests entering Epcot.

Whichever memory it is, this is a book about those experiences—a compilation that seeks to share and revive those memorable moments within the reader.

Throughout these pages, we have sought to recreate something special through the voices and muses of a diverse set of Disney-related authors. These varied perspectives are sure to generate a spectrum of emotions. Most of all, we have worked hard to edit lightly in order to allow their own words to fully come through.

As you travel through this book, you may find yourself chuckling, remembering, wondering, tearing up, or just silently nodding as you recall your personal Disney World past. If you do, then we’ve done our job and, in many ways, honored the man behind the magic and the individual whose namesake theme park resort is now indelibly and fondly marked in our memories.

We hope that you enjoy this reflection on forty years of magic at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Chad Emerson
Ayefour Publishing

 

 

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