It was 1963. Disneyland had been open for about eight years at the time.
Walt Disney and his team were looking for a location for a second Disneyland theme park.
Because Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida is now so iconic (since 1971), it seems like it was always obvious that this would be the one and only natural home.
Fun fact: All of Disneyland, California can fit in the parking lot of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
This is just to give you an idea of how big Disney World is compared to Disneyland.
Due to the year-round weather and the amount of land Walt Disney has been able to purchase (by straw buyers over time), Orlando is the perfect location.
However, before choosing Orlando, Florida, they looked at over 500 different locations.
Would you believe New Jersey was one of them? It was! Also, New Jersey was where they first looked.
Walt Disney looked carefully at the East Coast. His original desire was to build it on the East Coast, to be the equivalent of Disneyland, but not an identical clone.
Walt Disney really liked the concept of a balance between the west coast and the east coast.
Another moment of truth, which could have brought a Disneyland theme park to New Jersey, was when Disney moved its weekly TV schedule from ABC to NBC.
Meetings with NBC were held in hopes (actually NBC’s hopes) of moving Walt’s TV show and building another Disneyland in what they called the “Jersey Meadows”, which is located a few miles west of New York in New Jersey. .
The network did a feasibility study, which showed that New Jersey would be an excellent location.
Walt Disney followed up with his own study, done by his own guy named Harrison “Buzz” Price.
Price’s study showed that tourism in New Jersey/New York was different. Customers’ length of stay was shorter than what they were used to.
Additionally, NBC wanted to be a permanent partner of Disney. ABC had agreed to sell its investment back to Walt Disney within a few years.
Finally, here’s the biggest hurdle for New Jersey to overcome in order to win the Disney competition for its next location… the weather.
No East Coast outdoor theme park could be open year-round. Disney figured they could only be open for about 120 days of the year.
We found a 1963 quote from Walt’s older brother, Roy O. Disney: “Walt carefully considered the Meadows (New Jersey) proposal, but finally decided that there should be a method of controlling the weather – a huge dome or such a thing. When backers looked at the cost of such an undertaking, they quickly lost heart,” said Roy Disney.
Ultimately, this is what disqualified New Jersey from becoming the Disneyland of the East Coast.
THE SOURCE: allears.net and the series The Walt Disney World Chronicles by Jim Korkis.