MICKEY MOUSE lives. He is in temporary residence in central Florida wearing a hard hat and inspiring the construction of Walt Disney World, an enterprise he hopes will combine the best qualities of Utopia and Toyland. I didn't see Mickey on a recent expedition to the pine barrens and orange groves around Orlando, where the updated Disneyland is being built, but I could feel his nearness.
Mickey says the Magic Kingdom park, with its dreamy renditions of moated castles, Wild West saloons, jungle cruises, and a lot of playthings new to Disney followers, will open on schedule in October. Who is to doubt it? The original Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955, precisely on time, .just a year after groundbreaking. The Orlando branch will have taken longer to build, but, then, it hopes to accomplish much more. Disney publicity releases call it the largest non-governmental project presently under construction in the country. The whole of California's Disneyland occupies 350 acres; Disney World has 27,000 acres to work with. More than just an amusement center, it eventually will include five hotels, two golf courses, beaches, campgrounds, a 7,500-acre nature preserve, and, if signs are encouraging, a model community of 20,000 residents whose lives will be bles.sed \vilh all the futuristic conveniences the Disney labs can dream up.
Until Disney World started rising, Orlando was better known as a gateway to other places. About a third of the nation's citrus fruit is grown in a sandy belt across central Florida, and three-fourths of the phosphate is mined in nearby Polk County. Orlando does attract droves of retired couples and wintering Northerners, who can strike out on day trips to Cape Kennedy, Cypress Gardens, Daytona Beach, and dozens of lakes with such seductive names as Kissimmee and June in Winter.