I thought it might be interesting to look at how the WDW property has changed over the years and discuss the decisions that have been made regarding the master plan.
First, I created this rough satellite image of 1979 WDW & Surrounds. The red border represents the land purchased by Disney for the Florida Project. Back then WDW was in the sticks, filled with and surrounded by woodlands, cattle pastures, wetlands and citrus groves. In 1979, WDW had one park and handful of hotels (Epcot Center was under construction, so I included it) but most of the property and surrounds remained undeveloped.
Fast forward 30 years to 2009. Development inside and outside the property has been rapacious. Disney has added some real estate to their Florida holdings (not shown), but also sold off massive chunks (outlined in purple), including Celebration, Four Seasons, and Flamingo Crossing. The Orlando region's population explodes to more than 2 million, helping to service nearly 50 million visitors a year.
Whereas, Walt Disney once championed the "blessing of size" of his Florida project and how he had all the land he would ever need, these pics sadly show how WDW will, in 10-20 years time, be hemmed in on all sides by suburban sprawl, and has already sold off its biggest chunk of undeveloped land (Celebration around 35-40% of the property).
It's sickening to think such decisions were made by the likes of Eisner, Rasulo, Weiss and Crofton in order to reach or exceed annual incentive plan targets and enrich themselves.
To work as intended, WDW must be a place to escape the everyday sprawl, subdivisions, strip-malls, commercial districts that most of us live with. It needs the insulation of large undeveloped areas to achieve this. When you can see the roof of a Days Inn over the trees of Kilimanjaro Safari (were not quite there yet) then something has gone terribly wrong.