A Dream in Burbank

On this day in 1952, the Burbank Review newspaper ran the headline “Walt Disney Make-Believe Land Project Planned Here.” For the first time, the general public read about Walt Disney’s plan to build an amusement park and call it “Disneyland.” According to Walt, the parks’ attractions and exhibits “will give meaning to the pleasure of the children — and pleasure to the experience of adults.”
The article detailed that Walt intended to build a $1.5 million park on Disney Studio property in Burbank “at Riverside and Buena Vista” and create “a spectacular world of make-believe.” A number of themed lands and attractions that would eventually become a reality at Disneyland were first presented in this initial park description, including “scenes of a small midwestern town at the turn of a century”,  “an old Mississippi paddle wheeler”“a frontier Western town”, and “rides in a ’Space Ship’ and submarine.” While those concepts would remain in Walt’s plans, others did not. What was the biggest change in thinking from this article? Well, that’s an easy one. The article said “Disneyland is not intended as a commercial venture.” It went on to explain that the park was to be made “available for youth groups, Parent-Teacher Associations and other organizations devoted to civic and social welfare.”

There were two main reasons Walt’s plan to build a park in Burbank fell apart in the months to follow. First, the Burbank City Council never warmed to the idea ,fearing it would attract an unsavory crowd to their community. Accordingly, in September of 1952, the council formally rejected the plan. Second, Walt’s vision for the park continued to expand and quickly outgrew the land available in Burbank. That vision also became more commercial in nature with increased input from Walt’s brother Roy. Around the same time as the Burbank project fell apart and something larger gained momentum, Roy urged Walt to establish a separate business to design his theme park idea. In December of 1952, Walt formally launched WED Enterprises and he was looking beyond Burbank to build Disneyland.

On This Day

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