The continues to make additions to the in the form of new interactive lands at each Disney , as well as the addition of new attractions, rides, and other experiences in the parks and at Disney Springs.
But construction of the Walter Elias Disney Airport at must be completed by June 30, 2023, which would be a massive undertaking.
The , which lies in and in , continues to expand, as if himself had a vision of the future he wouldn’t live to experience when he spoke about the massive land purchase compiled in multiple transactions, each one under an alias business name so prospective sellers wouldn’t know Walt was behind them.
“Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland: the blessing of size,” Walt said. “There’s enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.”
Walt’s first purchase of land in was in the amount of 8,380 acres of swamp and was transacted in October 1964. It was sold by Florida State Senator Irlo Bronson for just over $100 an acre. But the transaction wasn’t publicly recorded until May 3, 1965. When it was all said and done, had purchased nearly 30,000 acres in and at a cost of more than $5 million from more than 50 different landowners under the guise of fictitious business names, according to KnowledgeStew.com.
After efforts to keep his land purchases quiet began to fail thanks to a few super-sleuths at the Orlando Sentinel, and his brother Roy Disney finally met Florida Governor Haydon Burns on November 15, 1965, and formally announced plans for Disney’s East Coast park, saying the project would cost approximately $100 million to build.
The announcement, however, “inspired” some landowners to charge as much as $80,000 per acre in Walt’s subsequent land transactions.
Reedy Creek Improvement District
would serve as its own governmental authority. Further, the would have the same authority and the same responsibilities as a county government, meaning could levy , write its own building codes, create its own infrastructure, maintain itself, and build anything it wanted, including a nuclear power plant and an airport for Guests if the District so chose.
The was passed by the in 1967.
Lake Buena Vista STOLport
When purchased the land in , he already had plans for an “airport of the future.” The airport would serve the residents of his new planned city, called E.P.C.O.T., as well as the industries there. The new airport would also serve Guests.
The the development area. (Today, that area is the site of the Town of Celebration, Florida.) can be seen at the bottom of this diagram, at the southernmost end of
Credit: Disney Archives
‘s plans called for the airport to be connected by a central monorail line to a transportation hub and entrance plaza, the planned industrial park, E.P.C.O.T city, and the resort area which would become situated around and near .
When was first under construction, the area had a great need for a new , according to a site dedicated to ‘s original plans for his new Florida Project and for his E.P.C.O.T. city:
“The desire for to have its own wasn’t as arbitrary as it might seem today. In 1971, when the resort opened, what has now become the bustling was known as the Orlando Jetport at McCoy, a small commercial airstrip that operated out of a portion of the much larger McCoy Air Force Base.
“For a passenger terminal, the Jetport had inherited an old missile hangar from the Air Force. Even after the government decommissioned the base in 1975 and transferred the entire site to the city of Orlando (leaving as a legacy its IATA code, MCO, which the were greeted by the same primitive Quonset hut terminal until more modern facilities opened in 1981. uses to this day*), air travelers arriving at the newly-named
“For a brief time in the early 1970s, though, it was possible for the jet-set to wing their way to the Vacation Kingdom of the World courtesy of Disney’s very own landing strip, the . This facility, a private-use , designated “DWS” by the IATA, was essentially a featureless 2000-foot landing strip and taxiway.”
The was located just east of the former . As planned, the and was provided by ,” served Guests visiting the , and “scheduled passenger airline service to according to Disney Fandom. At the time, there was “a vision for a larger, full-service itself.” within
But passenger service was discontinued by the 1980s because of the expansion of the Monorail System, but travelers along toward Disney’s and Ticket Center may be able to see the fully intact runway.
The End of Disney’s
Today, the majority of non-Florida resident Guests visiting the arrive via airplane at . But as frequent flyers to the parks can tell you, is not in Orlando. In fact, it’s located about 20 to 25 miles from Orlando. For this reason, one of the smartest moves Disney ever made was the development and implementation of Disney’s .
Disney’s Hotel, such as Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Art of , Disney’s , or any other Resort Hotel. Guests could take the from the all the way to their Disney Hotel. was a convenient bus service offered to Guests of who had booked reservations at a
And believe it or not, the service was free. Perhaps that’s why it ended in January 2022.
At that point, Guests had a few choices in car rental services, or rideshare options like Uber and Lyft. from the to the parks: , the , Mears Car Service, Service,
But Disney’s continues to be one of the most missed services at . And it makes sense for Disney to cut out the middleman, as it were, and build the that grew in the creative minds of and his closest confidants (away from any part of the property where elevated tracks for any form of such as the monorail might be installed at a later date, of course.)
Instead of featuring the “Buena Vista” name, the should honor Walt himself and be officially named the Walter Elias Disney International .
While no plans have been announced by The for an airport on property, it’s perhaps one of the most needed offerings Disney could give its valued and loyal Guests at this time. There’s just one major problem: for the first time since 1967, is running out of time to do so.
Since the passing of the which formed Disney’s in 1967, The has had the right to build any conceivable structure within the area, including an airport. But on April 22, voted to repeal the during a . After signed into law the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill, Disney immediately made a statement, saying “should have never passed” the bill and that the company was devoted to helping efforts to have the law repealed.
In response, began to assert that Disney might lose its “” in Florida, afforded to them under . Shortly thereafter, a bill was drafted, voted on, and passed. by the
Per the new law, Disney’s and the privileges and autonomy afforded Disney in Florida by that are set to expire, effective July 1, 2023, giving Disney less than 13 months to build that airport if they were ever going to do so.
If ever an were needed on Disney property, it’s now. But now might just be 55 years too late.