Published: September 14, 2012 at 3:10 AM
(Source: Jim Hill Media)
In the early 1960s, Mr. Disney and his company kicked around the idea of building a theme park in St. Louis. According to JHM one of the reasons Mr. Disney elected not to follow thru on the park was "... a rude remark allegedly made by beer baron August A. Busch, Sr. (At a dinner party attended by Walt, Busch supposedly said that "Any man who builds an amusement park in St. Louis that doesn't serve beer is a fool.") reportedly got back to Walt. Immediately after this, Disney lost his enthusiasm for building an indoor theme park along the waterfront in St. Louis.
Source: All Ears Network: - Topic Seeking a Location for Walt Disney World.
"Walt and his team spent a considerable amount of time talking with officials from each location, making as many trips as necessary to insure all questions from each side would be answered. During one trip, Disney Company Vice President Donald Tatum was asked a simple question regarding a certain Disney Company policy. It involved selling liquor in the Magic Kingdom theme park, or I should say The Disney Company's decision to NOT sell liquor in the Magic Kingdom. Tatum maintained that the company would never allow liquor to be sold on the Disney premises. The Disney brand and image would be tarnished if they began selling alcohol to the public. Tatum and the other members of the team hoped they had made this clear to city and state officials and businessmen."
The story continues reporting on the St. Louis incident:
"Apparently not, as one fateful night in 1963 the issue was raised again. Not only was it the wrong time to raise the issue, but the manner in which it was raised would prove to be somewhat fatal. Walt had made the trip with a dozen of his top executives including Vice-President for Construction Admiral Joe Fowler and another Disney VP, Card Walker. This was a big deal. Everything was oh-so-close. As a matter of fact, Disney officials had gotten to the point where all the financial arrangements had been set and were already composing a letter of commitment to be signed and delivered the next day.
It was an exciting time for Walt and his team.
Then there was that fateful night before all this would take place. On that night Walt and his team attended a huge dinner party. Attending this party were all the local and state government officials, local bankers and prominent businessmen from the area who too were excited about the impending partnership. You would have thought that with everything in place, with almost all the T's crossed and I's dotted that nothing would have prevented this project from becoming a done deal. If there was ever evidence as to the power of words, this night would surely be a showcase for such.
During the dinner the following remark was made: "Any man who thinks he can design an attraction that is going to be a success in this city and not serve beer or liquor ought to have his head examined."
Everyone at the party, most importantly, Walt himself, heard these words. To his credit, Walt did not offer a response. But Joe Fowler, Card Walker, and the rest of Walt's team saw Walt's right eyebrow rise a bit and they knew that Walt had taken offense to what was said. Furthermore, they knew that it was one thing to offend Walt, but to do it in public was ten times that sin. The remark had offended both Walt's sense of ethics and morality as well as his business acumen.
After the party, back in Walt's suite, he called in Card Walker and asked what was the earliest time in the morning they could leave. Walker did not understand. He reminded Walt that the next day was filled with meetings and announcements and legal papers to sign. As Walker explained all this Walt held up his hand to interrupt and said, "It's finished."
Walt had two more simple sentences. "We're not coming. Forget about it." Walt and his team would move on to the next location, Central Florida, which would become the future home of the World's most popular vacation destination.
So I guess it's not really "What Would Walt Do" but rather "What DID Walt Do?"