How Close Did Disney World Come To Being Built In New Jersey?
The year was 1963. Disneyland was open for about eight years at the time.
Walt Disney and his team were looking for a location for a second Disneyland theme park.
Because Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida is now so iconic, (since 1971) it seems as though it must have always been self-evident that this would be the one and only natural home.
Fun fact: All of Disneyland, California can fit inside the parking lot of Disney World’s The Magic Kingdom.
This is just to give you an idea of how massive in scale that Disney World is versus Disneyland.
Because of the year-round weather and the amount of land that Walt Disney was able to purchase, (by straw buyers over time), Orlando is the perfect location.
However, before deciding on Orlando, Florida, they looked at more than 500 different locations.
Would you believe that New Jersey was one of them? It was! Further, New Jersey was where they looked first.
Walt Disney looked hard at the East Coast. His initial desire was to build it on the East Coast, that it would be the equivalent to Disneyland, but, not an identical clone.
Walt Disney really liked the concept of a West Coast and East Coast balance.
Another moment of truth, that could have brought a Disneyland theme park to New Jersey, was when Disney moved its weekly television program from ABC to NBC.
Meetings with NBC were held with the hopes (actually, NBC’s hopes) of moving Walt’s television show and to build another Disneyland in what they referred to as the “Jersey Meadows,” which is located a few miles west of New York City in New Jersey.
The network did a feasibility study, which showed that New Jersey would be a great location.
Walt Disney followed up with his own study, performed by his own guy named Harrison “Buzz” Price.
Price’s study showed that tourism in New Jersey/New York was different. The length of stay of the guests was shorter in duration versus what they were accustomed to.
Also, NBC wanted to be a permanent partner with Disney. ABC had agreed to sell back its investment to Walt Disney within a few years.
Finally, here was the biggest hurdle of them all for New Jersey to overcome in order to win the Disney sweepstakes as its next location … the weather.
Any outdoor East Coast theme park could not be open year-round. Disney figured that they would only be able be open for about 120 days of the year.
We located a quote from 1963 from Walt’s older brother Roy O. Disney: “Walt gave the Meadows (New Jersey) proposal a careful look, but he finally decided that there would have to be some method of controlling the weather — a vast dome or some such thing. When the financial backers looked into the cost of such an undertaking they lost their courage pretty fast,” said Roy Disney.
In the end, this is what disqualified New Jersey from becoming the Disneyland of The East Coast.
SOURCE: allears.net & The Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis.