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Wednesdays with Wade: Disney without Walt

Wednesdays with Wade: Disney without Walt

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On the eve of Thanksgiving, it's (obviously) a time to be thankful for the things that really make life worth living. For having food on the table, a roof over your head. Health, friends, family.

Me? I'm grateful for pals like Disney historian Jim Korkis. After all, he's the guy that I turn to when I can't come up with answers to particularly tough Mouse-related questions.

Take -- for example -- last week. When I was trying to chase down a particular quote that Walt once said about how he thought his company would fare after his passing. But -- for the life of me -- I couldn't remember where I'd heard that "After Disney" quote.

So I re-read books, dug out old magazine articles, watched hours and hours of video & DVD. All in an effort to unearth this one quote.

But after searching for the better part of a week, I finally had to admit defeat. Which is why I picked up the phone and called Korkis. As I started to describe what I was looking for, Jim interrupted me and said: "Oh, you mean that interview that Walt did with NBC back in 1966?"

You see what I mean? This guy's like an encyclopedia with feet.

Anyway ... Here's a full transcript of Walt Disney's interview with NBC. Which features some pretty interesting comments about Disneyland:

NBC: Walt, why did you pick Anaheim as the site for Disneyland?

WALT: The Disneyland concept kept growing and growing and it finally ended up where I felt I needed two-three hundred acres. So, I wanted it in the Southern California area, there were certain things that I felt that I needed, such as flat land, because I wanted to make own hills. I didn't want it near the ocean, I wanted it sort of inland, so I had a survey group go out and hunt for areas that might be useful. And they finally came back with several different areas and we settled on Anaheim because the price of the acreage was right. But there was more to it than that. And that is that Anaheim was sort of a growing area. The freeway projection was such that we could see that the freeway would set Anaheim as sort of a hub. Well, that's how we selected Anaheim.

NBC: Do you feel Anaheim has lived up to expectations?

WALT: In every way, the city fathers have been wonderful. They've given us wonderful cooperation right from the start and they are still cooperating

NBC: What has been your biggest problem?

WALT: Well, I'd say it's been my biggest problem all my life - it's money. It takes a lot of money to make these dreams come true. From the very start it was a problem of getting the money to open Disneyland. About 17 million dollars it took. We had everything mortgaged, including my family. We were able to get it open and for ten or eleven years now we've been pouring more money back in. In other words, like the old farmer, you've got to pour it back into the ground if you want to get it out. That's been my brother's philosophy and mine too.

NBC: What plans for the future do you have at Disneyland?

WALT: There's a little plaque out there that says, "As long as there is imagination left in the world, Disneyland will never be complete." We have big plans. This year, we finished over $20 million in new things. Next June, I hope, we'll have a new Tomorrowland; and starting from the ground up, building a whole new Tomorrowland. And it's going to run about $20 million bucks.

NBC: What steps have you taken to see that Disneyland will always be good, family entertainment?

WALT: Well, by this time, my staff, my young group of executives are convinced that Walt is right, that quality will win out, and so I think they will stay with this policy because it's proven it's a good business policy. Give the public everything you can give them, keep the place as clean as you can keep it, keep it friendly - I think they're convinced and I think they'll hang on after - as you say, "after Disney."

Isn't that a great story ... Speaking of which: If you'd like to hear Mr. Korkis tell Disney-related stories in person, you really need to attend the JHM Christmas Party. Which is being held at the Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel on Saturday, December 3rd. If you'd like to get on the guest list for this seasonal shindig, please drop Scott Liljenquist at [email protected] ASAP.


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