A request for road improvements for a $1.1 billion theme park in Newton County has led to new speculation about the Walt Disney Co.'s interest in southwest Missouri.
Rumors that a Disney attraction was coming to Branson were rampant in the mid-1990s. Now, Newton County Commissioners are investigating whether Disney could be linked to a theme park proposal made earlier this month.
Jerry Carter, Newton County Presiding Commissioner, said the notion arose after Todd Marshall, who said he represented a Springfield company called ARM Risk, attended the April 12 commissioners' meeting. Carter asked about changes on county roads leading to the location the company is considering for a theme park.
A list of specifications Marshall gave the commissioners included first-phase construction costs of $1.1 billion, land purchases of 1,000 acres with the park taking 100 acres, six hotels, 95 shops, 27 rides, 12 stages and 18 restaurants.
"We want to be cautious and careful," Carter said. "We live in an opportunistic world and sometimes things come along we can't even conceive of."
A possible Disney connection was raised when commissioners checked the company owners. On a form called "Registration of Fictitious Name" filed with the Missouri Secretary of State's office in March for ARM Risk, three owners are listed. Corporations routinely file such forms.
The owners are Michael Hill of Wilmington, Del.; Robert Brown, who lists his address as 500 South Buena Vista St., Burbank, Calif.; and Jason Johnson, who lists his address as Corporate Office, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.