Would Walt Disney Have Been So Bold?

By Cynthia Ward

From the moment Walt Disney first set his leather loafers in the carefully plowed rows of citrus planted in our Santa Ana River bottom soil, Anaheim’s leaders welcomed him in a mutually beneficial partnership.

Our post-war city fathers accommodated Disney — within reason — back when closing Cerritos Avenue was considered a major concession to a private property owner. But as anxious as Mayor Charles Pearson was back in the '50s to be part of Walt’s dream, he and City Manager Keith Murdoch never forgot they were stewards of the public trust, and there were lines that they never stepped across, lines Walt Disney would never ask them to cross in the first place.


What would those great men think of the crony capitalism that has drafted plans for roughly one billion dollars in recent public spending within the Resort District? Anaheim’s seniors share stories of Walt hocking everything he owned in an effort to complete Disneyland. (When funds ran out for tropical vegetation at the Jungle Cruise Walt uprooted orange trees and planted them upside down, to expose their roots.) Walt would sell stock to anyone who believed in his dream, but not once did Walt demand a nickel from the taxpayers of Anaheim.

But then, Walt didn’t have Curt Pringle acting as his lobbyist. Yet.

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