Montgomery author’s book explores the inside story behind the creation of Disney World

Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World - File photo
Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World - File photo

Montgomery, AL – Local writer Chad Emerson has been fascinated with theme parks since his first visit to Walt Disney World with his wife several years ago.

“It was Betty’s first trip and the first one that I really remembered although I had been when I was much younger,” said Emerson. “We really enjoyed the feeling of ‘getting away from it all’ that we felt at Disney World.”

“From there, I began writing magazine columns, law reviews articles and now a book about the amusement industry,” he continued.

Emerson’s book, Project Future, The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World, was released at the end of February, and it explores one of the most comprehensive and successful private developments in U.S. history – the Walt Disney World Resort.

The 189-page paperback takes Disney fans, theme park enthusiasts and lovers of Americana and pop culture on the ride with Walt Disney and his advisors in the early 60s as they evaluate locations like St. Louis, Niagara, Monterey, California, Ocala, Florida, and the Miami area as possible sites for the new “Disneyland-East.”

The author also puts readers in Conference Room 2E at the company’s Burbank headquarters as the most senior Disney officials sort through the optimal parcels of land to place the “real working city” and planned entertainment development.

The Professor of Law at Faulkner’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law spent more than two years researching the history of Walt Disney’s Florida project while interviewing a variety of key players, such as Harrison “Buzz” Price, Robert Price Foster, Governor Claude Kirk, and Tom DeWolf.

Project Future does an excellent job providing rich details and historical context to the incredible efforts that individuals like Walt and Roy Disney, Bob Foster, Tom DeWolf, Paul Helliwell, Roy Hawkins and many others took to make Walt Disney World a reality,” said Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President for Operations at the Walt Disney World Resort.

The book’s attention-grabbing cover art also has local ties and was created by Jennifer Solt, creative director and owner of 24 Communications, a boutique advertising and public relations firm based in Montgomery. 24 Communications also designed the book’s layout and the website.

Area residents can meet the author and check out Project Future at a book signing in the Capital City on April 13, 12:30 PM, at the Jones School of Law Library.

The Michigan native moved to Montgomery to attend college and law school and has been in the area ever since. He and Betty have three young children: eight-year-old Owen, Dawson who is six, and Cullen, three years old.

Emerson is in the process of working on another book that explores how Disney, SeaWorld, and Universal all came together in the 1980s to make Orlando the theme park capital of the world.

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Article by Melissa Parker

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