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robert price foster

“Secret Agent” named Disney Legend dies shortly before being honored at the D23 Expo

The Disney Legends Committee named a “secret agent” to its roster of 2022 Disney Legends, but the honoree died before he could accept the prestigious award.

What's so special about a Disney Legends Award anyway? - Disney Dining

Credit: Disney Dining

Newscaster Paul Harvey hosted a radio program called “The Rest of the Story,” during which he endeavored to enlighten listeners about different viewpoints and additional details surrounding current events, news, topics of human interest, and more. It was successful because–truth be told–most people like to know more, rather than less.

After all, who doesn’t love a backstory?

During the first day of the 2022 D23 Expo held at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, thousands of Disney superfans who doubled as backstory lovers were served a real treat–the opportunity to be present as the Disney Legends Class of 2022 was honored during a ceremony that kicked off the Ultimate Disney Fan Event.

Credit: Becky Burkett

During the ceremony held in Hall D23 at the convention center in Anaheim, actors, actresses, and Imagineers were honored as the newest Disney Legends. But one honoree was neither an actor nor an actress. In fact, he wasn’t a celebrity at all. But his contributions to the Disney Empire are wholly responsible for the development of the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida.

His name was Robert Price Foster.

(Disney)

Credit: Disney

Foster began his Disney career in the 1950s, and per D23’s website, he was the man who carried out the task of securing land on which Walt Disney’s “Project X” would be built. Today, fans know the project by its more popular name: the Walt Disney World Resort.

[Foster] began at Walt Disney Productions in 1956, working in real property law and as a legal counsel for Disneyland. He later headed the property search and land acquisition for Walt Disney World and managed the legislative package that established the Reedy Creek Improvement District. In 1970, he was named president of the Buena Vista Land Company, which developed the 4,000-acre community of Lake Buena Vista. He left the company in 1975.

Not everyone loves Walt Disney and what he did to Florida

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney found the perfect spot for his new family park in the swamplands of Central Florida, but Foster knew that if Walt Disney’s name were any part of the transactions that resulted in acquiring the land on which to build the visionary’s newest project, the cost of that land would be, well, astronomical. So, instead of proposing to buy land from owners as Disney’s proxy, he transacted business using fictitious entity names, and in doing so, he saved Disney millions upon millions of dollars.

For his efforts and accomplishments, Foster was often called a “secret agent,” and his work yielded him a place of honor among the windows of Main Street, U.S.A., at Magic Kingdom.

magic kingdom windows

Credit: Orlando Sentinel

And this year, he was also named among the list of honorees to receive the coveted title of Disney Legend.

On Friday morning, during the 2022 D23 Expo Disney Legends Ceremony, however, Foster was absent. As he had acted on behalf of Walt Disney so many years before, Foster’s daughter acted on his behalf, standing in for her father and graciously accepted the award.

During her acceptance speech, Robert Price Foster’s daughter shared stories of her father taking her and her friends to Disney World, and she talked about people referring to him as a “secret agent.” Sadly, however, she said that just after Foster was told he had been chosen as a Disney Legend, he passed away.

As Foster’s daughter accepted the award on her father’s behalf, she expressed her approval of the honor, saying that long before her father became a Disney Legend, he was first a legend to her.

About Becky Burkett

I'm an enthusiastic writer who finds joy in random things like cold weather, snow, "I Love Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," journals full of blank paper, countdowns to Christmas, the month of December, "Toy Story," "Sleeping Beauty," my 4 kids, my 4 shih tsus, Disney Parks history, Imagineering and visiting the parks. I think Walt Disney is the standard against which genius should be measured. I love to write about Disney Parks, Disney history, all things Imagineering and PIXAR. I adore the colors, story and art direction of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (Team Make it Blue!), and "Toy Story" is life (minus "Toy Story 4"). I believe Walt Disney was so much more than an entertainment and theme park tycoon; I believe he was a savant with a vision for life and how it could be if happiness and kindness are strived for. I love Biergarten at EPCOT and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian. You can find me croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room, chillin' on the PeopleMover or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. I'm always looking for Imagineers in the parks, and I'd rather meet Joe Rohde and Tony Baxter than anyone in Hollywood! Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!