You Won't Believe Where Disney World was Almost Located

Before Orlando became its home, Disney World was almost built in a Midwestern city
You Won't Believe Where Disney World was Almost Located

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This location change made a world of difference for Disney World.

To many folks, Orlando is synonymous with the name “Disney.” Of course, there are other theme parks there (such as Universal Studios), but none is more famous than Disney World.

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Walt Disney first built the park in 1971 as a supplement to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which the animation legend had opened 16 years earlier, on July 17, 1955. However, Orlando wasn’t the initial location that Walt considered for his second park. Plans had actually been drawn up in 1963 for an indoor theme park that was to be built in downtown St. Louis.

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At the time, it made a lot of sense. Research showed that only five percent of Disneyland’s guests traveled from east of the Mississippi River, despite the fact that 75 percent of America’s population lived on that side of the country — and Walt desperately wanted the extra business. When the plans were drawn up, St. Louis was booming, the landmark Gateway Arch in St. Louis was under construction (it debuted in 1965), and Busch Stadium (est. 1966) was being built just a few blocks away.

However, the would-be Missouri Disney World hit a few roadblocks. Anheuser-Busch beer baron August A. Busch Jr. (who ran much of the city) allegedly insisted that the theme park sell beer, which Walt refused to do in the name of a family-friendly environment. Additionally, Disney was only willing to pay for the rides and attractions, hoping St. Louis’ redevelopment corporation would pay for the building that was to house them. The corporation balked at the idea, and Disney officially scrapped his plans in 1965.

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According to 13 pages of blueprints that went to auction late last year, the plans for the St. Louis park included rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad — all of which are now fixtures at the Florida park.

The blueprints fetched $27,000 at the December 2015 auction.

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