Thursday, April 30, 2009

Apr 30: First WDW Press Event

On this day in 1969 the first Walt Disney World press conference, held at the Ramada Inn on Highway 50 in Ocoee, Florida (a little suburb on the outskirts of Orlando), took place.
Donn B. Tatum (president of Walt Disney World Co.) detailed the more than 3 years of planning for a "Destination Vacation". It had been two years since special legislation had been passed allowing Disney to build its Florida project, and so the Disney Company had decided to rent out the entire Ramada Inn for Walt Disney World's official first press event.
A large circus tent outside the hotel was filled with models and artist renderings of Walt Disney World for this three-day gala. Among the Disney officials in attendance were Walt's brother Roy O. Disney and Disney publicist Charlie Ridgway. Newsmen from all over the world, as well as local Florida officials (including Florida Governor Claude Kirk), top executives (from U.S. Steel, Monsanto & RCA), and even a small group of Disneyland Cast Members attended the event.
A 16-mm 17-minute film titled Walt Disney World - Phase 1 was screened at the Parkwood Cinema Theater. Buses took the nearly 400 guests from the Ramada to the theater! The film showed the master plan and artists' depictions for a theme park (which would open in 1971).

Click HERE for more April 30 Disney History.

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