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Friday, January 1, 2021

Remembering Ron Dominguez

Ron Dominguez, Disney Legend and the only person who could literally say that he grew up on the land that would eventually become DISNEYLAND Park, has passed away at the age of 85.

In the early 1950’s, the City Of Anaheim was at a crossroads. Less than 2,500 people lived there and the impending “Cold War” was creating a permanent market for military equipment. The big firms that wanted to profit from providing that equipment were expanding in Southern California and Anaheim thought that it could possibly expand itself by catering to this new industry, both by providing space for offices and homes for employees. In 1952, however, Walt Disney arrived in town.

The City Of Anaheim had already approached land owners in the area to let them know that it wanted to leave its agricultural roots behind and become a bustling Southern California suburb by re-zoning their property for housing, which would allow them to make a handsome profit. Most everyone agreed and the process was in full swing until WaltDisney came to town with an idea- did Anaheim want to become just another stop between Los Angeles and San Diego, or did it want to host his Magic Kingdom, a showcase that would attract people from around the world? Despite not fully understanding what Walt Disney was planning to build, they chose to move forward. Now Mr. Disney just needed to convince the landowners to sell. They obviously did, but one seller gave DISNEYLAND much more than just her property.

Laura Dominguez owned a parcel of land that would eventually become New Orleans Square and the Rivers Of America. Her family had owned the land for quite some time and her children were born there. She could see the writing on the wall, however, and figured that it was time to sell the property. She agreed to Walt Disney’s price but had two conditions- the first was that a special tree be preserved on the property. The tree was a perfect fit for Adventureland where it was moved. The second was that Mr. Disney give her college aged son a job. Both conditions were accepted.

Possibly DISNEYLAND management felt that her son would only work at DISNEYLAND for a couple of years before moving on. Ron Dominguez, however, loved working at the park and worked his way up the ladder, eventually becoming the president of DISNEYLAND before retiring. A window was placed on Main Street in his honor, a clever nod to him being literally born and raised on the property.