As usual, money is creating new excitement in Florida. But prosperity has a habit of sweeping grandly into the state and often, very suddenly, sweeping out again. Few scars remain from the land boom of the 1920's, but Cape Kennedy, where space-program funds dropped from billions to millions, has a look of devastation. The money today is moving into and around Orlando, in anticipation of the October opening of Walt Disney World. This will be the most gargantuan vacation enterprise ever devised, dropped into America's most popular tourist destination. Around Disney World, the boom is on. Land values are jumping like frightened rabbits. Orlando, once the "city beautiful," is becoming Orlando, the rich and fat. Among the new faces in town are job seekers, along with sun-loving burglars and drug peddlers. In Tallahassee, the politicians are holding up their hands and saying: Stop! Not one more cent to attract more citizens. We"ve already got troubles enough. But the new settlers refuse to believe that. They're still pouring in.
Mickey Mouse, at the age of 42, is moving his bag and a billion-dollar share of his baggage to Florida. He will become permanent host when, on October 1, Walt Disney World—the entertainment spectacular of the century—opens for business on the principle that good clean fun spells crisp American dollars. Located 15 miles south of Orlando, near the center of the state, Disney's 27,400-acre holiday package is expected to draw eight million visitors the first year, and, in ten years, the accumulated equivalent of half the present population of the United States. Mickey money laid the foundation for the fortune that built this project, but nothing about it is mouse size. It is twice the area of Manhattan, almost 80 times larger than Disneyland in California. It will encompass two towns, five lakes, three golf courses, two railroads, a 7,500-acre wildlife Preserve and 200 ships. All this will continually change and grow. When Walt Disney announced it five and a half years ago, he noted that at last he had space to keep his creative people busy for 50 more years.