Project Future: The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World by Chad Denver Emerson tells the story of how Project Future, an idea for a East coast Disney parks, was developed and became reality. Emerson details Walt Disney’s quest to expand on his success at Disneyland to create a larger more controlled experience elsewhere. Project Future carefully tracks the efforts to determine the future location of what would become the Walt Disney World Resort, the acquisition of the land desired for Disney’s massive project, the planning for land use and finally the completion of stage one by Roy O. Disney after Walt Disney’s Death. The book especially focuses on the legal and political hurdles the Walt Disney Company had to navigate to control and develop their Florida property to opening day.
This is a well researched and written book. Emerson’s legal knowledge including Florida statutes brings a new dimension to the story of Walt Disney World. He goes beyond the Disney search for a new location and authoritatively explains the legal code that Disney had to navigate in order to reach. Once the reader sees all that legally had to be cleared before the Walt Disney Company could control their 47 square miles, the story becomes infinitely more complicated than a real estate purchase. Adding to this complexity is the lengths that Disney took to create an improvement district and 2 municipalities to provide governance and infrastructure for their property. And of course most readers will enjoy reading the cloak and dagger efforts taken to keep their land acquisition in Florida secret while uniting the diversely owned land parcels.
This is an enjoyable book. It is filled with legal phrases and legislation. However, it is presented in such a way that the casual reader can understand. Personally, I unexpectedly found myself learning about Florida statutes on municipalities and improvement districts. This book is an essential for Disney history enthusiasts as it clearly demonstrates the complicated story of creating Walt Disney World.