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Friday, March 13, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Finding a Home for Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom

With Roy Disney on board, Walt Disney now needed to find a home for his Magic Kingdom. Nowadays, cities dream of getting a Disney Theme Park. Back in the early 1950's, however, amusement parks still had a bad reputation. They were often geared only towards children, built in vacant lots and consisted of rusty carnival rides. Lucas Kiddieland was just the type of enterprise that some cities pictured when Walt Disney came calling.

There were many cities who did see this 'DISNEYLAND' as a possible boon to their communities, but Mr. Disney quickly saw that it might be best to pull back and use a more scientific method to find a location. He enlisted the assistance of the Stanford Research Institute and its young consultant Harrison "Buzz" Price to find an ideal place for his park. Buzz Price had no real metrics to use when finding a location for a theme park, so he came up with his own. The metrics Mr. Price created are still used in the theme park industry to this day. At the time, however, they were revolutionary. Some of the possible locations considered and quickly discarded were Canoga Park, where a defunct shooting range was offered as a location:

And the Santa Monica Pier, which was rejected due to its location on the beach:

Buzz Price's research indicated that the future growth area of Southern California would be in or near Orange County. Three locations considered were La Mirada, which was rejected due to its lack of freeway access at the time:

The Whittier Narrows Park in South El Monte, which was rejected for similar reasons:

And a parcel in Santa Ana that was deemed too expensive:

Eventually, the perfect location was found that satisfied all of Walt's requirements- flat land, affordable, close to Southern California's future population center, not on the beach and with a clear line of sight to Mount Wilson so that live broadcasts could originate from the park. The location- 160 acres in the sleepy town of Anaheim, California.

There were only 2000 people living in Anaheim at the time. Little did they know that Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom would bring the world to their humble farmtown.