Walt Lives: An Alternate History of the Walt Disney Company

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Sam Magic

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In the summer of 2015, I began writing an alternate history timeline for not only Walt Disney World, but for the Disney Company as a whole. This thread is dedicated to illustrating and detailing that timeline. It starts in 1966 and ends in 2020 (The in-universe 50th Anniversary of Disney World). Not everything will be happy and not all will be sad, but I promise you it will keep you interested and maybe inspire you. The Timeline begins below:

An Excerpt from the book Disney's America; How Walt Disney Built the American Century by Jim Hill:

Building Project Florida: 1965-1970
After months of debate within the company over the direction of Project Future, Roy decided he and Walt needed to reach a compromise. Visiting Walt at his home off Carolwood Drive, they discussed Walt’s vision for the Florida site. After three hours of intense debate, Roy had secured a promise from Walt to propose his plan to the board of directors.

This draft, known internally as the “Genesis Memo” give us an insight to how Walt was envisioning the project in early ’65. The memo broke down Walt’s planned phases for the Florida site with there being five phases in all. Walt’s planned development stretched from 1970 to 1985. According to Disney employees that saw “Genesis,” Walt’s plans involved the Visitor’s Center, EPCOTS Urban Core, and Display Center, along with the Industrial Park, and International Airport being completed by 1972. Phase two included the construction of the Magic Kingdom and four themed hotels and a golf course by 1976. Phase three would’ve been centered around EPCOT expanding, this expansion was planned to be finished by 1985. All in all, Walt had planned for 15 years of development—he was thinking long-term.

The memo was not well received amongst board members. Many felt it simply too big a risk, Roy included. They didn’t understand Walt’s vision for the city with one board members rumored to have said, “If Walt wants to run a city, let’s just pay for his campaign to be Los Angeles’ Mayor, but by God let’s not waste our money building a city for him”. Imagineers were divided too. On one end many were excited by the prospect of EPCOT, Walt’s enthusiasm had trickled down. Many more though were uncomfortable with the scope of Walt’s plans, they were far more comfortable designing for another Disneyland—not a futuristic city. Shortly after release, Walt’s plans were rejected by the Disney Board of Directors, which launched weeks of further infighting. Finally, by the July of ’65, it was decided, much to Walt’s frustration, that the Magic Kingdom would be built first. No longer included in phase one was the EPCOT urban core or the International Airport. Walt’s singular concession from his original draft was the EPCOT display center. Even the Visitor’s center had been cut from the phase one plans.

Walt fumed. Realizing that he would not live forever, and likely wouldn’t live to see his Disney World dream fully realized he demanded the Visitor Center be built. He believed that its location on the far southern end of the property would force the company to build both the airport and EPCOT if he were to not live to finish it himself. After much wrangling with executives, Walt was able to ensure it would be built. Additionally, Walt was able to ensure that the EPCOT Preview Center would include the main parking structure and hotel/convention center which would be known as the Contemporary Resort and Convention Center.


(left; The Final Masterplan for Disney World right; Press Conference in 1965 Announcing Disney World)

By the end of 1965, the company had purchased nearly 30,000 acres in central Florida and it became increasingly difficult for the company to keep Florida’s press off its tail. Then, on December 24th, 1965 the dam broke. The Orlando Sentinel broke the news that the Walt Disney Company had purchased the 30,000 acres of land near Kissimmee, but official confirmation would not come until a press conference held on January 5th, 1967. At that press conference, Walt hinted at his massive ambitions for the resort, but it wouldn’t be until a year and a half later that spring Florida residents and legislators would get an idea of what the Disney Company was planning for their new land.

On May 17th, 1967 the company released a video that explained Walt’s plans for Disney World and a corresponding pamphlet to Florida’s legislators. Both titled “Project Florida: A Whole New World”, these materials gave legislators a taste of what Disney had in store. Only 300 copies were made, but they proved to be a hit. So much so that the film was repackaged as an episode of “Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” and released to the nation a month later. Excitement for “Walt’s Florida Project” was growing across the country, and no where more so than the sleepy part of Florida that stood to benefit. Much of the excitement centered around Walt’s plans for his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow; a city of the future with a population of 5,000. Out of public view, the Disney company had also begun reaching out to American corporations for sponsorship of the Phase 2 Industrial Park, the response was overwhelmingly positive. For Walt, it truly seemed that his better tomorrow was just a day away.

On Loan from the Walt Disney Archives: Project Florida: A Whole New World (1967)


“With the technical know-how of American Industry and the creative imagination of the Disney Organization, I’m confident we can build a living showcase that more people will talk about and come to look at than any other area in the world.”

A Whole New World:

Greetings! Here at the Disney Company, we pride ourselves on delivering stories and experiences that excite young and old alike, and in Florida, we are planning our most exciting yet.

Disney World will be an all-new experience. Built around a philosophy of cooperation, innovation, and creativity, Disney World will make a present reality of a community of the future—a community which will be as unique in the year 2000 as it is today.

This community, though central to our Florida Project is not the only element that will make up our whole new Disney World. Within the pages of this pamphlet, we will showcase our goals and ambitions for Disney World. These plans will change as development continues, but the core ideas will stay the same. Disney World will become the epicenter of a new way of innovating and entertaining; it will be a whole new world.

A Vacation Kingdom:

In addition to a city of the future, the first part of Disney World that will be constructed is the new Vacation Kingdom. Featuring a theme park twice the size of Disneyland in Anaheim, two themed resorts, and a new state-of-the-art hotel and convention center, Disney World will redefine the vacation experience. Connecting all these exciting hubs of activity together will be a monorail system, currently in use at Disneyland.

Your Disney World vacation will begin at the Disney World Visitor Center. Connected to I-4 and both World Drive and EPCOT Boulevard, this is the most Southern development of our resort. This will serve as the entrance complex for the resort. Featuring eight, five-story parking structures and multiple large parking lots, the facility will have parking for 21,000 vehicles. These parking facilities will be connected to a central Monorail Station by the WedWay Peoplemover. From the monorail station, guests will be able to board a monorail train and head towards the Magic Kingdom Park and themed resorts.


(left; The DW Visitor Center right; The Contemporary Hotel and Convention Center)
The first stop towards the Magic Kingdom will be the Contemporary Hotel and Convention Center. For hotel guests, this is where they will leave the monorail and check-in to their hotel rooms, for park guests they too can disembark here and explore the EPCOT Preview Center. This center will keep a constantly updated collection of our plans for Disney World and the city that will eventually rise around the hotel. Standing nearly 32 stories high, the Contemporary Hotel and Convention Center will pioneer new building methods and provide modern amenities.


(left; The Asian Hotel right; The Polynesian Hotel)
As the monorail leaves the hotel and approaches the Magic Kingdom two distinctive buildings will rise. The first is the Polynesian Resort and its modern tower surrounded by traditional Polynesian longboat Hawaiian houses. Consisting of seven buildings the resort will bring all the color and flair of the Hawaiian lifestyle to Florida. Across Seven Seas Lagoon will be the Asian Hotel. Square in shape and inspired by the architecture of South East Asia, the Asian Hotel will celebrate Asian culture and cuisine.


(Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom)

Finally, you will see the soaring castle and mountains of Magic Kingdom Park. Double the size of the original Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom will have attractions for guests of all ages. With six unique themed lands and multiple exciting rides, the Magic Kingdom will be fun for all. After spending a day in Disney magic, guests will be able to board the monorail to head back to their car or one of our three themed resorts on property.

“Disney World begins with the same economic stimulant that is the foundation of the booming Disneyland-California area: a major, new
Disney family entertainment center, With this attraction as the proven, popular tourist magnet, Disney World will include recreational, industrial, and transportation complexes to serve both the permanent residents and the 20 million Florida tourists expected annually by the 1970s.”
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Sam Magic

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Original Poster
Magic Kingdom map.png
On August 1st, 1970 Walter Elias Disney opened The Magic Kingdom and Disney World Resort to excited crowds. The Magic Kingdom would open with 6 themed lands. Each land would be based on the original Disneyland areas, but Walt had the blessing of size and was able to create a more built-out version of the park. The resort costed a total of $400 million dollars (around $2.5 billion in 2016). It opened with two resort hotels, the Contemporary and the Polynesian Resorts, a monorail line going around the property, and the Magic Kingdom.

The Magic Kingdom was 22 acres larger than Disneyland and never one to repeat himself, Walt insisted on new concepts and attractions for the Magic Kingdom. It featured six unique lands; Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland. Each land differed in some fashion from their Disneyland counterparts and had plenty of land to expand and improve.

From August-December, 1970 nearly 200,000 visitors poured in to see Walt's new creation. The opening of the resort had been broadcast live, similar to Disneyland, and saw nearly 100 million viewers tune in. Also present at the opening festivities was President Richard M. Nixon who had been present at the opening of Disneyland as well. The President at opening stated, "This wonderful park and resort complex symbolizes everything that is great about our nation. Our creativity, our vision, and our ambition. It is my hope that this resort is successful and my hope that as it grows, America too grows."

Main Street U.S.A.
Main Street USA is the first land guests found coming into the park. The first building guests saw was the large Victorian style train station. After walking under the train station guests found the Town Square. On the left of the Town Square is the City Hall and fire station, on its right is the Main Street Theater and Hotel, further off to the right is a pathway to Cherry Tree Lane and down the center of the land is the main buildings of Main Street that lead towards the hub and towering Cinderella Castle. All down the main core of the main street is an elevated train.

Inside the city hall is a meet and greet for Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and the surrounding Town Square features a public plaza with a tall victory column. America, Disney World, and Florida state flags are found here. The centerpiece of this area is the Main Street Theater and Hotel. The theater shows a special film written by Walt entitled "Magic City U.S.A.". The film is a spin off of the popular Magic Highways film and goes through in great detail the history of American urban planning and leads into a promotion of the E.P.C.O.T. project being developed. Continuing down Main Street U.S.A. guests find the Emporium (a large department store), a Barber Shop, Ice Cream Parlor, Arcade, Photo Center, restrooms, Antonio's Italian Restaurant, and other amenities. By taking a right turn after passing Antonio's Italian Restaurant guest go down a side street that brings them to Cherry Tree Lane. On Cherry Tree Lane is the Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday attraction. Brand new to Disney World it was based off of a ride originally designed by Tony Baxter. The attraction goes through the Mary Poppins story. At the left end of Main Street is the Crystal Palace restaurant. The biggest change from Disneyland is the Main Street Hotel. The Hotel is actually a functioning hotel with 100 rooms. Oppulant and decadent, the hotel is the nicest and most expensive on-site. Guest who stay there have their own entrance into the park and get to stay a night or two inside the park. The hub of the Magic Kingdom is largest of any Disney Park and features great foliage. A stage in front of the castle holds daily performances.

Tomorrowland was the largest land built on the right side of the park. Its towering symbol was Space Mountain, a thrill attraction. Its concept was based around the idea of a Worlds Fair in 2070 and the land held all new attractions completely separate from those at Disneyland. The land featured a garden like design with curving paths that seemed to braid and intertwine.

The lands entrance pulled guests into Expo-Futura. This semi-circular building featured shops and restaurants along with an exhibit funded by the United Nations entitled Horizons. Horizons was in many ways a sequel to the Carousel of Progress and provided guests the opportunity to journey into the world of the future. The world was unified and humanity expanded into space. Guests visited four unique areas; Moon City U.N.A. (United Nations Association), Oceania, Demtopia, and Sky City. Each area provided guests with insight into the future of cities and the world. Also located in this area was Communicore. This area provided guests a futuristic place to relax and make reservations for their Disney trip. Leaving Expo-Futura, guests come into Future Plaza, in its center is the jet pack center and towering over the area is Space Mountain. Located on guests left was Mission to Mars, their right FuturePort, and their center the entrance into Space Mountain. Tracks spilled out and around the mountain which added to the excitement of guests entering. Mission to Mars was a Pirates of The Caribbean like attraction that told the story of Mans first mission to mars. Space Mountain took guests on a high-speed thrill journey through the cosmos. FuturePort featured the Astronaut Depot Cafe, which combined the interactive technology of the Tiki Room with exciting dinning. Also here was the Tomorrowland Theater which showed the unique stage show 'Mickey the Cosmonaut'; Mickey Mouse played a NASA astronaut inspiring kids to reach for the stars and push humanity forward. Connecting all these buildings together is the Tomorrowland People Mover. At the far left end of the land, heading towards Fantasyland is the Rocket Racers, set throughout the Tomorrowland city, guests got on 'flying' cars and traveled around the city of tomorrow.

As guests passed under the entrance gate of Cinderella castle, walked through its central corridor, they emerged into a fantasy-medieval village. Fantasyland had received particular attention from Walt who was disappointed by Disneyland's more carnival like design and wanted to build a land that looked like it was right out of an animated film. The land was completely contained with the 'castle walls' with the exception of the Fantasyland Forest area which is where Tomorrowland and Fantasyland met.

Cinderella Castle featured a meet and greet with Cinderella and the entrances to the Cinderella dark ride attraction and Royal Table restaurant. These two features made the Castle more than just a symbolic icon of the park. On the upper-levels of the Castle was Walt's private apartment. From his window he could see the entire park and surrounding resort area. The Fairytale Hall complex allowed guests to meet their favorite Princess, Princess, and Fantasy characters, all in their own unique biome or setting. By going out of the Palace gates, guests would find Sleeping Beauty's Cottage and meet and greet. Peter Pan's flight, Snow Whites Scary Adventure, restaurants and shops (like the Village Haus) could all be found within the palace area. Dumbo was also located within the palace walls. At noon everyday an interactive festival would be held. The Mad Tea Party and It's a Small World were located in the Fantasyland Forest. Though the land did not feature as many rides as Disneyland, it featured new attractions, a better design, and was fit with plenty of space to expand.

The anchor of Frontierland is the Thunder Mesa mountain complex. The entire land was themed to the American west and frontier of the 1840s-1880s. Log cabins, sweeping mountain vistas, and western style architecture were hallmarks.

Thunder Mesa mountain towered and dominated the land. Within the mountain were three attractions and a café. The Thunder Mesa café served country styled cooking and gave guests a great view of the land and mountain. The first attraction was Clarke’s White-Water Canoe, a flume water ride where guests embarked on a canoe and traveled through the mountain before finally emerging outside in a dramatic drop. The second attraction was a Thunder Mountain Run-Away. A mine train got off track and sped throughout the Mesa erratically. The largest attraction within Thunder Mesa is the Western River Expedition, below follows a description of the attraction originally from Passport To Dreams:
“Western River Expedition was housed in two enormous show buildings with a third, merely large show building connecting them. After entering below the giant ore elevator, guests would walk through a mine shaft and exit into Show Building A, which represents a canyon at sunset. Crossing over a natural arch, guests can look down to their left to see boats returning to the load area, and new boats loading down below them. The ride's soundtrack plays in a lush, Hollywood Western style as the queue winds slowly down to the attraction's loading dock amid trees and brush typical of the American southwest. A stream splashes down alongside the load area. Casting off from a simple wooden loading dock, the boats drift placidly though a canyon as the sounds of nature overtake the boat.

As we approach the cave we notice nestled in among the rocks are gigantic Western dime novels of adventure and cunning. The boats pass into a darkened cavern filled with hundreds of stalactites. A stalactite comes into view shaped like a rabbit. From inside this stalactite, echoing dimly in the cavern, a bit of music plays, imagine perhaps rhythmic drums. The boats pass more stalactites that resemble increasingly familiar Old West shapes - a coyote, a cowboy, an old man. From inside each stalactite, a bit more of the melody emerges until the entire cavern feels filled with ethereal music and we notice ever more familiar shapes in the flowing rock work. Exiting the cavern, the boats slip gently through a desert at dusk as they are followed by the Western River Expedition theme music summoned in the caverns. Slightly above the boats off to the left, a railroad track runs - and occasionally a full size train rumbles past, the Walt Disney World Railroad passing through. Back outside in the simulated night air, the music has taken on a minor key. A chorus of singing voices may be heard, until the boats turn a corner and reveal a stagecoach holdup taking place on a bridge spanning the Western River.

The Bandits holding up the Stagecoach, complete with their own personal mariachi and theme song, seem too busy with their latest crime to stop and rob us too - but, the leader in a top hat menacingly suggests to us, all in song, that he may meet us again soon. Passing underneath the Stagecoach, boats wind their way through the open prairie at nightfall. White clouds gently rake a periwinkle blue sky. All around, large shadowy buttes dot a landscape and open sky awash in twilight blue. A group of Buffalo curiously investigate the home of some prairie dogs. Nearby, a cowboy sings to calm his cattle under the night sky. His tune is a slow-step version of the Western River Expedition theme. The cattle join in, bellowing along with his tune. Framed in natural rock arches, coyotes howls pick up the tune. The underscore music swells. The cowboy's team rest nearby around a campfire, bringing another guitar and harmonica into the mix. Picking up the tune is the cook at the chuck wagon...and an entire chorus of cactus!

The placid strumming of the cowboy song transforms into a honky tonk piano. Raucous shouting may be heard, and gunfire. The right side of the town is bathed in bright blue moonlight, the houses stand out against the hue with green clapboard and yellow windows. This blue-toned side of the town is filled entirely with Cowboys drinking and carousing, shouting and singing. Surrounded by torches, a Snake Oil salesman at the end of the street demonstrates his wares with the help of a native chief, with music provided by a nearby brave and squaw on banjo and trombone. The left side of the street is bathed in a fiery red by the setting sun. On this side, a bank robbery and gun battle is underway. Robbers have pulled the entire safe out of the bank and are using it as a shield. The sheriff hangs out of the Tonsorial Parlor, returning fire. His Calamity Jane-style deputy hides behind a building, taking an absurdly long time to choose her targets. And, at the end of the street the Blue/Red split that mirrors the tone of the scenes found on either side of the river is the boldest stylization found on the ride, and even more remarkable for being conceived in the form of a sunset.

Boats turn a corner towards the left and pass through a narrow canyon between two buttes. The sounds of the honk-tonk piano and gunfire fade as now pounding native drums take up the rhythm of the Western River Expedition theme. The transition out of the Dry Gulch scene and into the next is made by passing under a bridge. We come across a group of plains Indians. They sway back and forth mysteriously to the pounding of their drums as a Shaman dances crazily, only slightly distracted by the shapely lass to his left. Far up above atop a butte, a rain dance is performed, and it's remarkably effective, sending cascading rain down... atop only the butte, at first. Water pours down the side of the butte, widening into flowing rivers and rushing towards the boats. Storm clouds glower overhead and bolts of lightning tear the sky as rain can be seen falling on the distant plain. The little boats move slowly towards a dark canyon straight ahead. Thunder and lightning rip the sky far above as we slip slowly into the narrow space. Flood water begins to pour into the canyon from the buttes above to the left and right, spattering on jagged rocks. The boats turn another corner and begin chugging up a huge waterfall. The eyes of unknown animals flash in the dark around them. Arriving at the top of the waterfall, the boats move slowly through a great forest at the top of the butte on the edges of the plain. The rain continues to fall, but the rain dance was too late - the lightning has already set the trees ablaze.

The tall trees have already begun to topple and the boats pass below several as they creak and groan, flames dancing atop each one when into view comes. The bandits stop the boat and demand your money. After a moment's hesitation, the boats slip down a waterfall to escape, splashing down in a darkened cave. The canyon at sunset where we began comes back into view, and with it returns the triumphant, Hollywood version of the Western River Expedition theme. Boats return to the little wooden dock where they boarded and passengers disembark, back through a mine shaft, emerging at the base of the huge Thunder Mesa complex.”
The fourth ride in the land was Davey Crockett’s Journey. The ride was a dark ride based on the adventures of Davey Crockett. It was not popular and closed two years after its originally opening. Next door was the Golden Saloon Revue. The restaurant/show experience was unique. Each night the cast of Golden Saloon would perform an interactive and exciting dinner theater experience. The food was rich country cooking. During the daytime, the restaurant served lunch and quick service. Also located here was Club 70. An exclusive club. At the far end entrance of the park is a collection of shops and arcade games.
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Well-Known Member
It's really an intriguing date. So much happened between 1966 and 1974 that changed the company forever. With Walt alive, much could be different. Good luck, and I know I'll be checking in.

Sam Magic

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
It's really an intriguing date. So much happened between 1966 and 1974 that changed the company forever. With Walt alive, much could be different. Good luck, and I know I'll be checking in.
This is so true! Hell, Walt could've left five more years of stuff.

I'm very excited about this...also I will be asking for help on this in the future so if anyone is interested!

Sam Magic

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The Final Four: 1971-1974

An Excerpt from the book Disney's America; How Walt Disney Built the American Century by Jim Hill:
The room was tense. As legislators stood by their desks waiting to vote, a massive pack of lobbyist, press, and intrigued staffers lined the walls of the Florida state house clamoring with the excitement of a county fair. Towards the far end of the room the sunken figure of the Speaker emerged into the great hall and made his way up to the Speakers platform. With a disgruntled huff he began in his thick southern twang, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Florida Legislature I call this emergency session in to order’, the loud thud of his gavel caused all talking to cease and the legislators to sit as he continued, ‘The pieces of legislation before us this evening have been previously heard in its respective Senate committee and Senate chamber, after passing the Senate this bill was heard in its respective House committee last week, earlier today this bill was heard in this here chamber, the right honorable representative from district 63 deferred the vote to this evening,’ a light pause, ‘,I suppose for drama. Given the special circumstances of the bill we will not debate it again, instead I ask the clerk to read the bill by title only before final passage.”

“An Act to Create the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” the clerk read aloud in a matter-of-fact tone.

“All those in favor of the bills final passage please signify by say Aye’, a chorus of Ayes emerged from the chamber, ‘Those opposed please signify by saying Nay’, an equally loud shout came from the collection of legislators, ‘By the ears of the chair this bill does fail.”

A jumped reaction followed by screams of division erupted from the chamber floor. The speaker acquiesced and began the process of a formal counted vote. And like that, with a final tally of 61 nays and 59 ayes, Walt Disney’s dream to build a functioning city in the heart of Florida had been dashed.

The news hadn’t been all bad for Walt. Earlier in the day the legislature had approved plans for Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District to construct a new international airport. Nearly $10 million in state funds were pledged towards the project. Disney guests would now be able to travel directly from the airport to the parks and resorts of Disney World—an area now known as the Vacation Kingdom. Still none of this was of much comfort to Walt. His entire motivation behind Disney World was to pioneer a new way of building cities. He had been obsessed with the project to build his experimental prototype community of tomorrow, or as it was known, “EPCOT”.

Despite the extreme excitement that had followed Disney Worlds opening in October of 1970, controversy developed after Walt had his so called “EPCOT Act” proposed in the Florida legislature in the spring of 1971. The act would’ve effectively stripped any citizens of voting rights and governing control of the futuristic city they would live in; instead citizens would have to be counted into the existing voting districts surrounding Orlando and would be entirely dependent on the governing structures of a city they didn’t live in. Walt’s justification for the bill was flexibility; it was unrealistic for Disney to design, construct, and run EPCOT in the way they wished while also having to deal with the democratic rights and demands that having American citizens live somewhere usually entails. Walt needed full autonomy and this bill would’ve granted it to him.

Unfortunately for Walt the bill caused significant controversy amongst surrounding Florida counties and the workers of companies that would’ve had to live in Walt’s dream. EPCOT citizens under the bill would’ve had to pay property taxes for property they didn’t own, local taxes for facilities they wouldn’t use, and they would’ve voted for representatives who realistically didn’t represent them. The scandal had grown so large that a national conversation had created significant opposition to the project. Still, some Florida politicians saw the potential of Walt’s dreams and how his city could turn Florida into an economic powerhouse—perhaps the most important state in the union. In the end not even this contingent was large enough to sway the Florida House of Representative to back the bill. Disney had been defeated and Walt was, like when he failed so many times before, sent back to the drawing board.


(left: Walt Disney's Bay Lake cottage, Roy Cove | Right: the EPCOT Act is defeated on May 21st, 1971 in a narrow vote of 61-59)

Defeated and distraught, Walt retreated to his cabin home on the shore of Bay Lake. Built during construction of Disney World so he could inspect progress, the home had become a personal refuge for Walt. Named Roy Cove after his brother and lifetime business partner died in 1969, the home was a quaint affair, but it provided Walt with the space he needed to create. As Walt sat in his living room, surrounded by advisors such as Marty Sklar he broke down and cried.

“Walt was always a difficult man to read. On one hand he had this optimism about him that made you believe anything was possible, but when he was frustrated he could be demanding. None of us though had expected to see Walt cry when he sat down after it (the EPCOT Act) was defeated. As he cried we, all of us looked down until Herbie (Imagineer Herb Ryman) got up from the counter he was leaning on and walked towards Walt, with a cough, Herbie said, ‘We’re gonna get it done Walt, we’re gonna get it done. We didn’t come this far not to. You didn’t come this far not to.’ , Walt looked up, looked at all of us, then slowly smiled at Herbie and said, ‘Damn right we are”. – Marty Sklar in an interview to the New York Times in 1994

And with that Walt’s team got to work. After one week of the entire team behind Walt’s original plan for EPCOT, Disney had found a way around the road block erected by the Florida state government. Walt would build his EPCOT, come hell or highwater.

Authors Note:

Greeting folks, I originally started this thread back in August of 2015. It's been almost five years now and aside from updates and edits made in 2016 and 2017, I haven't done a good job of keeping this updated. However, and I super duper promise this time, that's changing. Above is a preview of the new style this thread will have. It will be much more archival styled. What this means is that rather than the traditional format of simply describing the resort or just describing the background history I want to, in true Disney fashion, tell a story.

I plan on achieving this by piecing together created primary and secondary sources, video, and other forms of media to tell the story of the Walt Disney company from 1966-2016. The premise of this timeline is simple. Walt doesn't die in 1966, instead he lives on (not forever, but just a little longer than our timeline). I will examine how this would've changed the development of Disney World, Florida, and America as a whole. I will be bringing you guys into the parks, resorts, and try my best to even bring you guys into the film and alternate world that this timeline establishes.

There will be plenty of surprises, many changes, but what I hope to accomplish is two-fold. On one hand I want to showcase how different the world can be through small changes in small events, the second thing I hope to accomplish is to explain my grand theory behind the Disney company. I believe that the Walt Disney Company is perhaps the most important company ever founded on American soil. It has defined the American self-identity, not just through its film and television but through its parks and resorts. Rising to prestige simultaneously with the United States, Disney has been with America every step on the way to the present. As the company merges with Fox (a proposition I wouldn't have even dreamed of when I first started this project) I believe the time is perfect to re-examine this most American of America's companies. So sit back, keep your arms and hands inside the vehicle, and I'll see ya real soon!

- Sam4D23​
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Well-Known Member
This is certainly an exciting prospect. There's always been wonderment about what if Walt had lived beyond 1966. How long would he live for? Would Epcot be built as intended? Would the likes of Eisner, Wells, Katzenberg have had any role in the company? What of Pixar, the Disney Renaissance, Marvel, Star Wars, Fox?

This going to be great fun!

Though on one note - why did you decide Roy should die in 1969 rather than 1971?

Sam Magic

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Though on one note - why did you decide Roy should die in 1969 rather than 1971?
Spoilers. ;)

This is certainly an exciting prospect. There's always been wonderment about what if Walt had lived beyond 1966. How long would he live for? Would Epcot be built as intended? Would the likes of Eisner, Wells, Katzenberg have had any role in the company? What of Pixar, the Disney Renaissance, Marvel, Star Wars, Fox?
My goal is to be as authentic as possible, so many of these questions will certainly come up. We're gonna tackle all of it. As Walt himself would say, "It's only just the beginning".

Sam Magic

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Just bumping this thread to let you all know I've added a new logo and title for this project. Once I have finished my WDSP project, I'll be making further additions to this project. For a rough timeline summary up to this point, see below:
1965 - The Walt Disney Company begins purchasing land in Florida.​
1966 - Walt Disney confirms and announces his plan to build a Disney World and E.P.C.O.T outside of Orlando.​
1966 - Walt Disney is treated for serious lung cancer; he survives.
1967 - The Walt Disney Company approves the Phase One plan for Disney World and begins construction.​
1969 - During the construction of Disney World, Roy O. Disney suffers from a stroke and dies.
1970 - Disney World opens on August 1st, with all of Phase One being completed by spring 1971.​
1971 - On May 21st, 1971 the Florida Legislature narrowly defeats Walt's proposal to build E.P.C.O.T.

Going forward, we will first revisit the opening day of Magic Kingdom. Afterward, we will pick back up with Walt as he tries to figure out how to move ahead with his dream to build E.P.C.O.T., then we will finish covering the first five years of Disney World's life.
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In the Parks
1966 - Walt Disney is treated for serious lung cancer; he survives.
1969 - During the construction of Disney World, Roy O. Disney suffers from a stroke and dies.
1970 - Disney World opens on August 1st, with all of Phase One being completed by spring 1971.
1971 - On May 21st, 1971 the Florida Legislature narrowly defeats Walt's proposal to build E.P.C.O.T.


Sam Magic

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So if Roy is sadly gone by 1969, then who does Walt turn to to balance the books when he is building EPCOT? Historically, wouldn't greenlighting the project have bankrupted the company?
Please read my earlier entries in the timeline.

The Florida legislature rejected Walt's proposed legislation that would have opened the door to build EPCOT. Additionally, Phase One in this timeline did not include the construction of EPCOT. Phase One included the construction of:
  1. The Magic Kingdom
  2. The Asian Hotel
  3. The Polynesian Hotel
  4. A Ticket and Transportation Center where All-Stars is currently located
  5. The Contemporary Hotel in the proposed EPCOT location as step one for Walt's hoped for EPCOT
  6. A monorail line going from the south of the property up to the Seven Sea's loop
As for how Walt builds EPCOT, I guess you'll have to keep watching the thread for my next two entries.

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