I've never heard that story.
Originally Posted by jaxbistro
I've heard it the other way around. Supposedly, Walt Disney turned down Ray Kroc. Here's what it says at the Ray Kroc Biography at the Basic Famous People website:
Kroc's enthusiasm for the company was strong, and in his first year with McDonald's he unsuccessfully attempted to convince Walt Disney, a fellow WWI ambulance driver with whom he had been acquainted, to let him open a restaurant in the forthcoming Disneyland.
Keep in in mind that in 1954 and 1955, the time of the final planning and construction of Disneyland, McDonald's was nothing like the company it is today.
The chain that the McDonald brothers founded has grown to handful of restaurants by 1954 — 8 or 11 locations, depending on which account you want to believe.
Ray Kroc hoped to replicate the McDonald brothers's success at additional locations. He opened his first McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois, on April 15, 1955, just three months before Disneyland opened. In 1961, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers, who had to rename their restaurant. Kroc then drove them out of business in 1964.
Kroc's company grew into the McDonald's Corporation of today.
In 1997, when the Disney-McDonalds's marketing alliance was announced, I recall stories circulating that Ray Kroc and Walt Disney served together in France during World War I in the same ambulance unit. The suggestion was that they were old friends and that the presence of McDonald's at Disneyland was somehow preordained.
I also recall that someone looked into it at the time and determined that although both young men volunteered for ambulance service, the timing was such that their paths did not cross. Apparently, Kroc was never even sent to France.
Regarding the efforts to have a McDonald's presence in Disneyland in 1955, one account from a reliable Disney historian says that Ray Kroc wrote to Walt Disney in 1954. Walt responded that he had forwarded the letter to his executive in charge of concessions. There was no follow-up. And that was the end of it.
No real courting — no real shunning — from either side.