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  1. #1

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    Angry Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    With advice from former CIA operatives and lawyers, Disney bought up the land for Florida’s Disney World and orchestrated a unique legal situation—and set up an unconstitutional form of government. An excerpt from T.D. Allman’s Finding Florida.
    Starting in the mid-1960s when Disney set out to establish the Disney World Theme Park, they were determined to get land at below market prices and Disney operatives engaged in a far-ranging conspiracy to make sure sellers had no idea who was buying their Central Florida property. By resorting to such tactics Disney acquired more than 40 square miles of land for less than $200 an acre, but how to maintain control once Disney's empire had been acquired? The solution turned out to be cartoon-simple, thanks to the CIA.


    Disney's key contact was the consummate cloak-and-dagger operator, William "Wild Bill" Donovan. Sometimes called the "Father of the C.I.A," he was also the founding partner of Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine, a New York law firm whose attorneys included future C.I.A. director William Casey. Donovan’s attorneys provided fake identities for Disney agents; they also set up a secret communications center, and orchestrated a disinformation campaign. In order to maintain "control over the overall development," Disney and his advisers realized, “the company would have to find a way to limit the voting power of the private residents" even though, they acknowledged, their efforts "violated the Equal Protection Clause" of the U.S. Constitution. Here again the CIA was there to help. Disney's principal legal strategist for Florida was a senior clandestine operative named Paul Helliwell. Having helped launch the C.I.A. secret war in Indochina, Helliwell relocated to Miami in 1960 in order to coordinate dirty tricks against Castro. At a secret "seminar" Disney convened in May 1965 Helliwell came up with the approach that to this day allows the Disney organization to avoid taxation and environmental regulation as well as maintain immunity from the U.S. Constitution. It was the same strategy the C.I.A. pursued in the foreign countries. Set up a puppet government; then use that regime to do your bidding.

    Though no one lived there, Helliwell advised Disney to establish at least two phantom "cities,” then use these fake governments to control land use and make sure the public monies the theme park generated stayed in Disney's private hands. On paper Disney World's "cities" would be regular American home towns—except their only official residents would be the handful of hand-picked Disney loyalists who periodically "elected" the officials who, in turn, ceded complete control to Disney executives.

    In early 1967, the Florida legislature created Hallowell’s two "cities,” both named for the artificial reservoirs Disney engineers created by obstructing the area's natural water flow. When you visit Disney's Magic Kingdom, you are visiting the City of Bay Lake, Florida. The other was the City of Lake Buena Vista. In both “cities,” in violation of both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions the Disney-engineered legislation established a property qualification for holding elective office, requiring that each candidate for office there "must be the owner, either directly or as a trustee, of real property situated in the City" in order "to be eligible to hold the office of councilman."

    Though enacted by the legislature, this and other crucial pieces of Disney-enabling legislation, which would reshape central Florida and affect the lives of tens of millions of people, was written by teams of Disney lawyers working in New York at the Donovan firm, and in Miami at Helliwell's offices. Disney lawyers in California signed off on the text before it was flown to Tallahassee where, without changing a word, Florida’s compliant legislators enacted it into law. “No one thought of reading it,” one ex-lawmaker later remarked. Later, after the houses there were sold, compliant legislatures excluded all the residents of Celebration from Disney’s domain, to prevent them from voting.

    Those who were there never forgot the day Disney inaugurated what truly would be a magic kingdom in Florida – magically above the law. The Governor and his Cabinet came down from Tallahassee. TV crews were in attendance, along with Florida's most eminent civic leaders. Right on schedule, the curtains parted. On the screen, Walt Disney gave his much beloved, self-deprecating smile, then announced that in Florida he was going to create a new kind of America, not just a theme park.
    There would "be no landowners, and therefore no voter control," Disney responded, when asked how he planned to maintain control.

    If Florida, among all the many melodramas of the last 500 years, could be said to have had only one defining moment, this was it because in this place, at this particular time, the distinction between reality and fantasy—nature and names—vanished entirely. Walt Disney was dead when he made this presentation. A chronic smoker, he had died of lung cancer seven weeks earlier. As the lips of the dead Disney moved, people in the audience murmured their agreement. As his hands gestured, they nodded their approval. The posthumous Walt Disney, like the mechanical Andrew Jackson in the Hall of the Presidents, had joined Mickey, Donald, and the Sorcerer's Apprentice in that special world where it doesn't matter whether you're real or not.
    A month before he died Disney confirmed it was all a trick. There would "be no landowners, and therefore no voter control," Disney responded, when asked how he planned to maintain control.

    Of course he was right about creating a new kind of America. By turning the State of Florida and its statutes into their enablers, Disney and his successors pioneered a business model based on public subsidy of private profit coupled with corporate immunity from the laws, regulations, and taxes imposed on actual people that now increasingly characterizes the economy of the United States. Over the decades Disney World has showed that, once tasted, partial impunity is never enough. As Disney World's powers increased, its lobbyists made sure the State of Florida lost even the authority to protect the public from injury and death there. In June 2005 Rob Jacobs, at the time chief of Florida's Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection, summed up the human meaning of such impunity. "We don't have the authority to close the park down or close the rides.”

    One reason no federal court has ever ruled on the unconstitutionality of Disney World's violation of voting rights is that no one so far has challenged it. It is as though a crucial sector of the New York metropolitan area—Wall Street, for instance—were exempted from democracy as well as taxation, government regulation and the rule of law, and no one so much as protested.

    SOURCE: How the CIA Helped Disney Conquer Florida - The Daily Beast
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  2. #2

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    There are some non facts in there.

    Is this really news? If you read the story of WDW you can't get through a book without reading this same stuff.
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  3. #3

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    This all sounds too conspiracy theory-ish for me to believe and I never heard of this source before.

    The real story goes with using a couple of false company names and with the use of lawyers Walt Disney was able to purchase a large quantity of swamp land (hence the low price). He used the false names in order to get the land so the project would be secret and the price of the land would remain at an reasonable price. Naturally, if people knew Walt Disney was purchasing land in Florida, prices would up being sky high. Eventually, as time went by an Orlando reporter figured it out who was purchasing the land, posted it in the paper, the price of land sky rocketed, and Disney stopped purchasing land.

    That's the story that's been said time and time again, it's believable, and that's the story I personally am going to believe unless it's been reported otherwise by an actual reliable source that I actually know.

  4. #4

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    But Reedy Creek is why DOSH doesn't close down Soarin' in Epcot.

  5. #5

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
    But Reedy Creek is why DOSH doesn't close down Soarin' in Epcot.
    DOSH is a california entity. OSHA is the federal entity. Even Al spelled that out in his article. And in the same article spelled out that DOSH didn't shut down soarin, disneyland executives did because they felt soarin matched certain criteria that didn't meet updated DOSH standards.


    The stuff in this posting/Finding Florida is all known.. It's presented here like a really vast conspiracy and I don't see how the whole CIA aspect plays into any of this. While it's somewhat dubious how Disney has their own little mock local government in place, and I question some of it, the tone of this info is laughable.

  6. #6

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    50 years ago there were tons of people looking for post government work. They did all sorts of jobs and some people who did work for Disney has previous government experience. Nothing special about it, it just happened to be post WWII and a men's work world.
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  7. #7

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by almandot View Post
    DOSH is a california entity. OSHA is the federal entity. Even Al spelled that out in his article.
    Obviously I meant the Florida equivalent, which wouldn't have jurisdiction over Reedy Creek.

    And Al didn't write that story, you should know that since you're such an expert.

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by DisCollector View Post
    This all sounds too conspiracy theory-ish for me .... unless it's been reported otherwise by an actual reliable source that I actually know.
    The Daily Beast is the same as NEWSWEEK.

  9. #9

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    "Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World" has gotta be one of the more bogus "come-on" thread titles in recent memory.

    Hint: working with a former CIA employee who runs a law firm is not the same as working with the CIA.

    Hint: working with a former U.S. Navy Admiral (Joe Fowler, Disneyland's construction supervisor) is not the same as working with the U.S. Navy.

    Hint: T.D. Allman's book is ridiculously full of errors.
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  10. #10

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
    The Daily Beast is the same as NEWSWEEK.
    Thanks for letting me know.

  11. #11

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    In the spirit of Mr. Wiggins' post:

    Hint: The Newsweek of today is a pale pale reflection of the Newsweek of days past


  12. #12

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
    Obviously I meant the Florida equivalent, which wouldn't have jurisdiction over Reedy Creek.
    Inspectors come to WDW all the time to verify operational safety. Reedy Creek was setup so that Disney would never have to jump through all the local government red tape whenever they wanted to build or change something. It only involves land use and services. Disney as the company still operates the theme parks and as such is still required to abide by all the regular rules and regulations that pertain therein.

    A side note to Reedy Creek, in my opinion, even though it could have been used in various unscrupulous ways to date Disney has been extremely responsible in its use of the land and environmental practices on site. Another note is that Disney recently began a large composting enterprise which they were only able to do because of Reedy Creek. Florida law is very particular about composting and therefore it is difficult to set up such sites in Florida as a whole.

  13. #13

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneySam View Post

    A side note to Reedy Creek, in my opinion, even though it could have been used in various unscrupulous ways to date Disney has been extremely responsible in its use of the land and environmental practices on site. Another note is that Disney recently began a large composting enterprise which they were only able to do because of Reedy Creek. Florida law is very particular about composting and therefore it is difficult to set up such sites in Florida as a whole.
    I'll agree with that.

  14. #14

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsFREAKS View Post
    With advice from former CIA operatives and lawyers, Disney bought up the land for Florida’s Disney World and orchestrated a unique legal situation—and set up an unconstitutional form of government. An excerpt from T.D. Allman’s Finding Florida.
    Starting in the mid-1960s when Disney set out to establish the Disney World Theme Park, they were determined to get land at below market prices and Disney operatives engaged in a far-ranging conspiracy to make sure sellers had no idea who was buying their Central Florida property. By resorting to such tactics Disney acquired more than 40 square miles of land for less than $200 an acre, but how to maintain control once Disney's empire had been acquired? The solution turned out to be cartoon-simple, thanks to the CIA.


    Disney's key contact was the consummate cloak-and-dagger operator, William "Wild Bill" Donovan. Sometimes called the "Father of the C.I.A," he was also the founding partner of Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine, a New York law firm whose attorneys included future C.I.A. director William Casey. Donovan’s attorneys provided fake identities for Disney agents; they also set up a secret communications center, and orchestrated a disinformation campaign. In order to maintain "control over the overall development," Disney and his advisers realized, “the company would have to find a way to limit the voting power of the private residents" even though, they acknowledged, their efforts "violated the Equal Protection Clause" of the U.S. Constitution. Here again the CIA was there to help. Disney's principal legal strategist for Florida was a senior clandestine operative named Paul Helliwell. Having helped launch the C.I.A. secret war in Indochina, Helliwell relocated to Miami in 1960 in order to coordinate dirty tricks against Castro. At a secret "seminar" Disney convened in May 1965 Helliwell came up with the approach that to this day allows the Disney organization to avoid taxation and environmental regulation as well as maintain immunity from the U.S. Constitution. It was the same strategy the C.I.A. pursued in the foreign countries. Set up a puppet government; then use that regime to do your bidding.

    Though no one lived there, Helliwell advised Disney to establish at least two phantom "cities,” then use these fake governments to control land use and make sure the public monies the theme park generated stayed in Disney's private hands. On paper Disney World's "cities" would be regular American home towns—except their only official residents would be the handful of hand-picked Disney loyalists who periodically "elected" the officials who, in turn, ceded complete control to Disney executives.

    In early 1967, the Florida legislature created Hallowell’s two "cities,” both named for the artificial reservoirs Disney engineers created by obstructing the area's natural water flow. When you visit Disney's Magic Kingdom, you are visiting the City of Bay Lake, Florida. The other was the City of Lake Buena Vista. In both “cities,” in violation of both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions the Disney-engineered legislation established a property qualification for holding elective office, requiring that each candidate for office there "must be the owner, either directly or as a trustee, of real property situated in the City" in order "to be eligible to hold the office of councilman."

    Though enacted by the legislature, this and other crucial pieces of Disney-enabling legislation, which would reshape central Florida and affect the lives of tens of millions of people, was written by teams of Disney lawyers working in New York at the Donovan firm, and in Miami at Helliwell's offices. Disney lawyers in California signed off on the text before it was flown to Tallahassee where, without changing a word, Florida’s compliant legislators enacted it into law. “No one thought of reading it,” one ex-lawmaker later remarked. Later, after the houses there were sold, compliant legislatures excluded all the residents of Celebration from Disney’s domain, to prevent them from voting.

    Those who were there never forgot the day Disney inaugurated what truly would be a magic kingdom in Florida – magically above the law. The Governor and his Cabinet came down from Tallahassee. TV crews were in attendance, along with Florida's most eminent civic leaders. Right on schedule, the curtains parted. On the screen, Walt Disney gave his much beloved, self-deprecating smile, then announced that in Florida he was going to create a new kind of America, not just a theme park.
    There would "be no landowners, and therefore no voter control," Disney responded, when asked how he planned to maintain control.

    If Florida, among all the many melodramas of the last 500 years, could be said to have had only one defining moment, this was it because in this place, at this particular time, the distinction between reality and fantasy—nature and names—vanished entirely. Walt Disney was dead when he made this presentation. A chronic smoker, he had died of lung cancer seven weeks earlier. As the lips of the dead Disney moved, people in the audience murmured their agreement. As his hands gestured, they nodded their approval. The posthumous Walt Disney, like the mechanical Andrew Jackson in the Hall of the Presidents, had joined Mickey, Donald, and the Sorcerer's Apprentice in that special world where it doesn't matter whether you're real or not.
    A month before he died Disney confirmed it was all a trick. There would "be no landowners, and therefore no voter control," Disney responded, when asked how he planned to maintain control.

    Of course he was right about creating a new kind of America. By turning the State of Florida and its statutes into their enablers, Disney and his successors pioneered a business model based on public subsidy of private profit coupled with corporate immunity from the laws, regulations, and taxes imposed on actual people that now increasingly characterizes the economy of the United States. Over the decades Disney World has showed that, once tasted, partial impunity is never enough. As Disney World's powers increased, its lobbyists made sure the State of Florida lost even the authority to protect the public from injury and death there. In June 2005 Rob Jacobs, at the time chief of Florida's Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection, summed up the human meaning of such impunity. "We don't have the authority to close the park down or close the rides.”

    One reason no federal court has ever ruled on the unconstitutionality of Disney World's violation of voting rights is that no one so far has challenged it. It is as though a crucial sector of the New York metropolitan area—Wall Street, for instance—were exempted from democracy as well as taxation, government regulation and the rule of law, and no one so much as protested.

    SOURCE: How the CIA Helped Disney Conquer Florida - The Daily Beast
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  15. #15

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    Re: Walt Disney worked with the CIA to obtain land for Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
    Obviously I meant the Florida equivalent, which wouldn't have jurisdiction over Reedy Creek.

    And Al didn't write that story, you should know that since you're such an expert.
    And you should know that there is no Florida equivalent. Florida's similar body only looks after small parks and fairs. Like, seriously, Reedy Creek has nothing to do with why Florida's inspectors don't come to Disney... they don't check parks with more than 1000 employees. They don't check Universal, SeaWorld, or Legoland either.
    -Bill

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