Walt Disney, Southerner
It's always an honor anytime someone decides to publish your work on their website. I found myself in that situation again this week when Field Trips with Sue published an article on fireworks at Walt Disney World.
ABG Curator Sam Burnham, Southerner-at-large writing about Disney. It's not as strange as you might think. Just consider my thoughts from last summer. I truly enjoy going to Walt Disney World and even find it inspiring to my craft as it was along the Boardwalk last summer.
Besides all that, allow me to make a few other points about Disney.
Walt's parents, Elias and Flora were married in Kismet, FL. Kismet was a small town near Lake Akron, about 40 miles north of what is now Walt Disney World. Regardless of what anyone thinks about the Southern-ness of Florida, Kismet was more southern than where you live. The area known as Downtown Disney is currently undergoing a massive renovation that will re-theme the place as Disney Springs, a small turn-of-the-century central Florida town in the spirit of Kismet and about a billion other little hamlets that once dotted the entire peninsula of Florida.
Walt may have been born in Chicago but his path was shaped by small communities, which is evident in the presence of a sort of physical paraphrase of Marceline, MO as the opening stanza of every Magic Kingdom that bears his name.
Disneyland began in California and was quickly surrounded by a modern urban mess. Like a farmer standing at the mailbox and finding himself in a cookie-cutter cul-de-sac made of vinyl siding and minivans, Walt knew he needed room. It was time for his magnum opus. And that is when Walt Disney did what might be the most Southern thing in the entire history of the South. He went back to the area where his family started their story, got in a helicopter and searched for more land than he thought he'd ever be able to use. Then he started about 100 different real estate companies to begin buying up all that land secretly, parcel by parcel to keep from paying inflated Disney prices for it all. And then he made plans to build his greatest work smack in the middle of it. Walt knew that the only thing better than good neighbors, is no neighbors. And so Walt Disney World was born.
Sure, there's 478.000 Wal Marts and every sort of outlet selling every disposable plastic Chinese-made Florida souvenir that anyone can dream up. But you can't see any of that from Walt's porch. He made sure of that before he died. His dream is safe and secure, sealed off from the real world by moss draped bald cypress tress and gator infested waters.
And what Southerner doesn't dream of that?
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire