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On November 22, 1963, one airplane flight changed the course of Central Florida – and in many ways the entire nation. Aboard the plane was Walter Elias Disney, the creative genius who had ushered in a new era of American entertainment through his animated features and Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. From his window seat, Disney looked down on acreage of undeveloped land, including rural swampland and citrus groves – a physical environment that hardly seemed ripe for what would soon become one of the largest private developments in the United States. Yet, as was his skill, Disney saw an opportunity where others did not – so much so that a small team of Disney confidants soon began acquiring 27,000 of these isolated acres for what would ultimately become the iconic Walt Disney World Resort.

This Article analyzes the legal and regulatory events that enabled Disney’s vision to become a reality. This series of events uniquely melded public governance with private enterprise to create a system designed to facilitate Disney’s massive project without resorting to a large public investment.