While it might have looked like Walt Disney singlehandedly willed DISNEYLAND into existence, only using his intuition to choose a location, that was far from the truth. DISNEYLAND’s location was scientifically chosen by a consultant who would end up becoming a vital part of Disney history.
While Walt Disney had some requirements in mind when he sought an ideal location for his Magic Kingdom, he had no idea where to locate it. Harrison Price was hired to evaluate the various possibilities and settled on Anaheim, which would be the most affordable option that met Walt Disney’s requirements and would eventually become the population center of Southern California. As it turned out, Harrison Price was only slightly off; the population center would be four miles north in Fullerton.
Walt Disney was so impressed by Harrison Price’s work on finding a site for the Magic Kingdom that he quickly put him to work doing more analysis for the theme park that could be used to calm financiers and sponsors. Such work had never been done before in the tourism/amusement industry, yet Harrison took on the challenge. He created metrics to determine how many people DISNEYLAND might attract, how much those people might spend once they got there, how many hot dogs they would order and how many parking spaces they would need. Harrison’s metrics were amazingly accurate and became the foundation of industry metrics that are still used to this very day.
Originally, Harrison had worked as part of a larger consulting firm, but after his work on DISNEYLAND, his intellect and analysis became highly sought after that he chose to start his own firm (with Walt Disney’s encouragement) and took advantage of the boom in theme park construction and tourist enterprises that occurred after DISNEYLAND’s success. Harrison continued to do work with Walt Disney Productions, providing analysis of DISNEYLAND expansion, an early plan for a second theme park in Anaheim that Walt Disney was planning called “Disney California Living” and both Walt Disney’s Original Florida project concept and Roy Disney’s cut down Florida project that became Walt Disney World. Mr. Price would go on to do more work for Disney and other major themed entertainment players like Universal, MGM, Six Flags, Knott’s Berry Fark and Cedar Fair. His trailblazing work on DISNEYLAND, however, would be his greatest legacy.