When Walt Disney purchased a plot for a new house in Benedict Canyon in Bel Air, California, he wasn't necessarily thinking about what the house would look like. He had plans to build a miniature backyard railroad. His wife was open to the idea, as long as it didn't interfere with an area of the yard she had earmarked for flower beds. When she saw her husband's final plans, she saw that it did.
Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Disney designed a tunnel that would run underneath his wife's flowers, thus ensuring they would both be pleased by the end result. He even had a mock contract drawn up:
WHEREAS, Walt is or is about to become the sole proprietor and owner of a certain railroad company known as the Walt Disney R.R. Co., which railroad company proposes to construct and operate a railroad in, on, upon and over the right of way hereinafter described and delineated, in the operation of which railroad Walt desires to have and at all times to retain complete, full, undisturbed, unfettered and unrestricted control and supervision, unhampered and unimpeded by the other parties hereto or by any of them, they having heretofore made known and asserted to Walt in various sundry and devious ways their collective intention to reign supreme within, and so far as concerns, the aforesaid residence, and
WHEREAS, the Second and Third Parties, in the future and notwithstanding Walt’s ownership of the fee title to the aforesaid parcel of land, and notwithstanding their many enthusiastic assurances verbally given to Walt in their present enthusiasm over said new residence and their anticipated pleasures and happiness therein, may, and probably will, seek to assert rights, privileges and authorities inconsistent with Walt’s reserved and retained control and supervision over said railroad company and the operation of said railroad company upon the right of way herein referred to, all to the detriment of said railroad and its efficient, profitable and pleasurable operation, and to the injury of Walt’s peace of mind (the presence and soundness of which mind Second and Third Parties hereby admit).
THAT WHEREAS, Walt and Lillian are husband and wife and Diane and Sharon are their children, in which family there presently exists an atmosphere of love, understanding and trust which all parents hereto are intensely desirous of preserving.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises and of other good and valuable considerations the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged by Lillian, Diane and Sharon, the said Lillian, Diane and Sharon hereby jointly and severally quit claim, transfer, assign and set over to Walt all their right, title and interest in and to the right of way.
With domestic peace ensured, Walt Disney built his railroad and imagined something bigger that he could show the world; a place like none other, surrounded by a train.