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  1. #1

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    "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    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.

  2. #2

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    I guess this mean's a 3rd Disney park inside the United States in the distant future! There still looks like room to add to WDW, including another park the size of epcot. I didn't expect the isolation of WDW to last forever. I'm fine with it.

    Over at Disneyland the illusion is still there except for tall rides with city views. The same goes for the 4 parks when you're on your feet, now when you're up on Everest... well the view will be altered a bit but not deadly in my opinion.
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  3. #3

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Your "1979" picture isn't 1979. It has to be after 1982 because EPCOT Center is 100% finished. The real tell tale is the extension of Buena Vista Blvd to World Drive which happened after Michael Eisner joined the company in 1983 but before ground was cleared for then Disney-MGM which opened in 1989. So I would guess you aerial is about 1986.

    I agree with you the wholesale selling of land runs against the Walt Disney mantra. They argue that Disney would lose the freedom it has under Reedy Creek if suddenly everyone in Celebration can vote down a Disney company plan. This is easily fixed by de-annexing from Reedy Creek only the land residences are built on to the local county. The hotels in Buena Vista (Hilton, etc.) do not own the land they are built on but have a 100+- year lease which was setup by Old School Disney. Which is the way everything should have been done.

    Selling off Crossroads for example was wrong, they could have leased it or hired an operator.

    Flamingo Crossing - what can I say, wrong-wrong-wrong. Also has anyone driven on Western Way? What a stink! There is a sewage composting plant on the other side of a berm on the North side of the road. It's enough to make you gag. That's has got to go and be relocated far away or really discount those rooms out there when they build them.

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Looking at those pictures, it is so sad to see that most of WDW's developement has been dedicate to hotels, hotels, hotels.. what a waste of good land.

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    I don't think Walt ever intended to leave the property green. He toted the "blessing of size" so that he could develop whatever he wanted inside the border.

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    Looking at those pictures, it is so sad to see that most of WDW's developement has been dedicate to hotels, hotels, hotels.. what a waste of good land.
    I'd rather see beautiful resort hotels instead of shopping malls. But I don't want to give Disney any ideas, so I'll be quiet.


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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Well Mikey, I have to disagree. I do not want to see more shopping malls at WDW for sure.. but! if they gave me a choice between hotels and shopping mall.. I would go for the mall, because it is something that can be enjoyed without having to pay for the night or having to clear a nasty security "guard" at a booth before you enter. In other words.. a mall is enjoyed by most, as opposed to the minority who enjoy the hotels.
    But I rather have more entertainment and high quality attractions in the parks, plus better facility upkeep inthe parks as well.

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Your "1979" picture isn't 1979. It has to be after 1982 because EPCOT Center is 100% finished.
    You're right. Rather than a snapshot in history, I'm aiming for more of a sketch of WDW prior to the hyper-development.

    I don't think Walt ever intended to leave the property green. He toted the "blessing of size" so that he could develop whatever he wanted inside the border.
    This is true as Walt's widely circulated master plan of EPCOT showed much of the property being used to build his vision of the "city of tomorrow." I'm a little guilty of romanticizing Walt's vision. That said, I think it was a happy circumstance that turned Epcot into a theme park and let much of the WDW property return to its natural state... for a little while.

    In other words.. a mall is enjoyed by most, as opposed to the minority who enjoy the hotels.
    It is possible for both a mall or a hotel to be an asset if it is beautiful, unique and accessible. I've enjoyed visiting various WDW resorts to appreciate the themeing, amenities, etc.

    Then the All-Star Sydrone happened. Huge chunks of WDW were subsequently turned over to ordinary, cheap development, no different than what is on the outside. Even the Saratoga Springs is indistinguishable from countless condo developments around the country. To use an example of what should/could be built: Wilderness Lodge is a unique and beautiful representation of a rare thing.

    I don't think on-site resorts should cater only to the wealthy: Coronado Springs is a stunning example of a moderate. A skilled architect and planner can come up with ways to create a lower cost "value" resort without resorting to motel boxes mounted with giant plastic dalmatians.
    Last edited by RandySavage; 05-09-2009 at 03:26 PM.

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    I had no idea they sold the entire southern half of the property! I thought they had just sold the area developed for Celebration. What a waste - I feel like they should be holding such a massive asset (the land Walt bought) for dear life, because the land around WDW keeps rising in value, and someday they might run out of land to develop in the north. It'll be no easy feat getting that land back - just look at the Disneyland Resort.

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Wow I hadn't realized how much land they used to own mainly South of I-4 where Celebration is now located. They still have quite a large amount of property.

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    This gives a better representation of the property.




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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    ^ ^ ^

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW Monorail View Post
    This gives a better representation of the property...
    Based on that graphic... it looks like they're already almost out of room to develop.

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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkTwain View Post
    ^ ^ ^



    Based on that graphic... it looks like they're already almost out of room to develop.
    Yup, there hardly appears to be any theme park sized chunks there. What's the black "unsuitable" area? Swampland perhaps? Anyone know if this could ever be made "suitable"?...it seems to constitute the biggest chunk of undeveloped area.
    Last edited by tasman; 05-13-2009 at 09:31 AM.
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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Quote Originally Posted by tasman View Post
    Yup, there hardly appears to be any theme park sized chunks there. What's the black "unsuitable" area? Swampland perhaps? Anyone know if this could ever be made "suitable"?...it seems to constitute the biggest chunk of undeveloped area.
    Maybe Carbon Offsets?
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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Quote Originally Posted by tasman View Post
    Yup, there hardly appears to be any theme park sized chunks there. What's the black "unsuitable" area? Swampland perhaps? Anyone know if this could ever be made "suitable"?...it seems to constitute the biggest chunk of undeveloped area.
    Quote Originally Posted by Coastierox View Post
    Maybe Carbon Offsets?
    The black is almost entirely conservation. Or "Carbon offset" as it is called nowadays.



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    Re: "The Blessing of Land" 1979 vs 2009 Sat-pics

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW Monorail View Post
    The black is almost entirely conservation. Or "Carbon offset" as it is called nowadays.
    Is that by choice or by law? Whatever the case...if the lands are for conservation...then it's somewhat misleading to call them "unsuitable" for development. The area to the east and northeast of Epcot could accomodate three parks. Of the lands labeled "suitable" and / or "marginally suitable" only the area adjacent to the Grand Floridian looks big enough to accomodate a proper sized park. Lots of potential areas for "boutique" parks or water-parks however.
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