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Disney World could have been in Palm Beach County

March 7, 2013
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Photo by NASA

Photo by NASA

What would Orlando have been like without the Mouse?

What would Palm Beach County have been like as the theme park capitol of the world?

The Palm Beach Post reported on a story of Walt Disney on his scouting trip to find the best spot for his kingdom. Although, the story doesn’t delve into alternate universes, it’s an interesting read to find out how such an empire begins – apparently swimming in boxers and splashing in the water was a crucial part of it..

According to the Post, it started with a 20-something, Sherman Adler, “driving around rural Palm Beach County in a dusty old pickup truck with John D. MacArthur and Walt Disney.”

John D. MacArthur was a Palm Beach tycoon, making his mint in the insurance business and real estate investments in Florida. And that’s where Disney comes in.

Word started to spread that Disney was looking for land to build, this eventually reached MacArthur. The two met and hit it off. They then had an agreement in Old Florida style.

The Post wrote that Adler saw “the two American titans of industry and entertainment strip down to their boxer shorts and splash one another in the Intracoastal Waterway one afternoon,” and  “that he knew he had witnessed something he would never forget.”

Two moguls. Boxer shorts. Some good ol’ Florida outdoors activities. The deal was done – almost.

Even though, the two had a handshake deal to bring Disney World to Palm Beach County, Disney confided in Adler, “Sherman, I’m not sure I trust him.”

Adler said it was MacArthur (who owned more than 100,000 acres in Florida) who then pointed Disney north to Orlando, where he owned – and eventually sold – a large chunk of land to Disney as part of its purchase of nearly 30,000 acres.

 

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