Featured Attractions

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fess Parker, King of the Wild Frontier

In the mid 1950's, Fess Parker's career appeared to be going nowhere. Stuck in B-Films, he was beginning to enter a crossroads- if his career wasn't going to take off the way he'd hoped, he would have to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. What happened next was beyond his wildest dreams.

Fess caught the eye of the man who would change his life forever- Walt Disney. Mr. Disney thought Fess would be perfect to play the role of Davy Crockett. Little did Fess know that the role would vault him from near obscurity to one of the most famous faces of the 1950's. Davy Crockett was everywhere- movies, TV, music, even DISNEYLAND. It was a one in a million opportunity and it catapulted Mr. Parker into a world of fame and wealth. The boys of America wanted to grow up to be just like him and he became the first big television celebrity.

Rather than fritter away his newfound wealth, Mr. Parker proved to be a great investor. He soon found himself owning a winery, resorts and hotels. Fess didn't need to act anymore and practically retired after his second big hit- Daniel Boone, left the airwaves.

Eager to follow in the footsteps of the man who started it all for him, Fess looked north for a new opportunity; he wanted to build a Frontier theme park and purchased several hundred acres in Santa Clara, California for a possible theme park. Fess hired the same man who did the initial feasibility studies for DISNEYLAND to assess the opportunities in Santa Clara. The opportunities were good, but Fess had a hard time convincing his business partners to actually build the park. J.W. Marriott, who had seen the success of DISNEYLAND had dreams of his own; he wanted to build three parks, one of which would be on the west coast. Since Mr. Parker had already gotten much of the footwork completed, the Marriott Corporation entered into an agreement to buy the land from Fess Parker. Marriott's Great America opened in 1976, just in time to celebrate America's centennial. Mr. Parker's dream came true, only for someone else.

In December 2004, Mr. Parker returned to the place where it all began- DISNEYLAND- to receive a rare honor- a window in Frontierland- the land that Davy Crockett built.