How the CIA Helped Disney Conquer Florida

Walt DisneyThe Daily Beast – by T.D. Allman

Starting in the mid-1960s when Disney set out to establish the Disney World Theme Park, they were determined to get land at below market prices and Disney operatives engaged in a far-ranging conspiracy to make sure sellers had no idea who was buying their Central Florida property. By resorting to such tactics Disney acquired more than 40 square miles of land for less than $200 an acre, but how to maintain control once Disney’s empire had been acquired? The solution turned out to be cartoon-simple, thanks to the CIA.  

Disney’s key contact was the consummate cloak-and-dagger operator, William “Wild Bill” Donovan. Sometimes called the “Father of the C.I.A,” he was also the founding partner of Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine, a New York law firm whose attorneys included future C.I.A. director William Casey. Donovan’s attorneys provided fake identities for Disney agents; they also set up a secret communications center, and orchestrated a disinformation campaign. In order to maintain “control over the overall development,” Disney and his advisers realized, “the company would have to find a way to limit the voting power of the private residents” even though, they acknowledged, their efforts “violated the Equal Protection Clause” of the U.S. Constitution. Here again the CIA was there to help. Disney’s principal legal strategist for Florida was a senior clandestine operative named Paul Helliwell. Having helped launch the C.I.A. secret war in Indochina, Helliwell relocated to Miami in 1960 in order to coordinate dirty tricks against Castro. At a secret “seminar” Disney convened in May 1965 Helliwell came up with the approach that to this day allows the Disney organization to avoid taxation and environmental regulation as well as maintain immunity from the U.S. Constitution. It was the same strategy the C.I.A. pursued in the foreign countries. Set up a puppet government; then use that regime to do your bidding.

Though no one lived there, Helliwell advised Disney to establish at least two phantom “cities,” then use these fake governments to control land use and make sure the public monies the theme park generated stayed in Disney’s private hands. On paper Disney World’s “cities” would be regular American home towns—except their only official residents would be the handful of hand-picked Disney loyalists who periodically “elected” the officials who, in turn, ceded complete control to Disney executives.

In early 1967, the Florida legislature created Hallowell’s two “cities,” both named for the artificial reservoirs Disney engineers created by obstructing the area’s natural water flow. When you visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom, you are visiting the City of Bay Lake, Florida. The other was the City of Lake Buena Vista. In both “cities,” in violation of both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions the Disney-engineered legislation established a property qualification for holding elective office, requiring that each candidate for office there “must be the owner, either directly or as a trustee, of real property situated in the City” in order “to be eligible to hold the office of councilman.”

Finding Florida by T.D. Allman

Though enacted by the legislature, this and other crucial pieces of Disney-enabling legislation, which would reshape central Florida and affect the lives of tens of millions of people, was written by teams of Disney lawyers working in New York at the Donovan firm, and in Miami at Helliwell’s offices. Disney lawyers in California signed off on the text before it was flown to Tallahassee where, without changing a word, Florida’s compliant legislators enacted it into law. “No one thought of reading it,” one ex-lawmaker later remarked. Later, after  the houses there were sold, compliant legislatures excluded all the residents of Celebration from Disney’s domain, to prevent them from voting.

Those who were there never forgot the day Disney inaugurated what truly would be a magic kingdom in Florida – magically above the law. The Governor and his Cabinet came down from Tallahassee. TV crews were in attendance, along with Florida’s most eminent civic leaders. Right on schedule, the curtains parted. On the screen, Walt Disney gave his much beloved, self-deprecating smile, then announced that in Florida he was going to create a new kind of America, not just a theme park.

There would “be no landowners, and therefore no voter control,” Disney responded, when asked how he planned to maintain control.

If Florida, among all the many melodramas of the last 500 years, could be said to have had only one defining moment, this was it because in this place, at this particular time, the distinction between reality and fantasy—nature and names—vanished entirely. Walt Disney was dead when he made this presentation. A chronic smoker, he had died of lung cancer seven weeks earlier. As the lips of the dead Disney moved, people in the audience murmured their agreement. As his hands gestured, they nodded their approval. The posthumous Walt Disney, like the mechanical Andrew Jackson in the Hall of the Presidents, had joined Mickey, Donald, and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in that special world where it doesn’t matter whether you’re real or not.

A month before he died Disney confirmed it was all a trick. There would “be no landowners, and therefore no voter control,” Disney responded, when asked how he planned to maintain control.

Of course he was right about creating a new kind of America. By turning the State of Florida and its statutes into their enablers, Disney and his successors pioneered a business model based on public subsidy of private profit coupled with corporate immunity from the laws, regulations, and taxes imposed on actual people that now increasingly characterizes the economy of the United States. Over the decades Disney World has showed that, once tasted, partial impunity is never enough. As Disney World’s powers increased, its lobbyists made sure the State of Florida lost even the authority to protect the public from injury and death there. In June 2005 Rob Jacobs, at the time chief of Florida’s Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection, summed up the human meaning of such impunity. “We don’t have the authority to close the park down or close the rides.”

One reason no federal court has ever ruled on the unconstitutionality of Disney World’s violation of voting rights is that no one so far has challenged it. It is as though a crucial sector of the New York metropolitan area—Wall Street, for instance—were exempted from democracy as well as taxation, government regulation and the rule of law, and no one so much as protested.

5 thoughts on “How the CIA Helped Disney Conquer Florida

  1. By pure chance, I happened to catch a joyride hop on a US Navy CH-43 from Norfolk NAS to Orlando on the Thanksgiving weekend that Disney World opened in 1971. Before landing at the Orlando airport, the pilots decided to take a turn over the Magic Kingdom. Astonishingly, the view showed the entire site as being solid people — not one square foot of sidewalk that was not occupied. The freeway entering the area was backed up for twenty miles in both directions. Just how tight Disney Corp wanted to control the area was shown when a small civilian helicopter challenged and pursued our huge military chopper to clear “their” airspace. They were no match for our speed, and we left when we’d seen enough.

  2. Take back teh property and give it to the people of Floriduh. Same with Big Oil rigs that polluted the gulf a million times. Take teh assets of disney, CIA and politicians that set up this RICO scam. Give the assets to the people of FloriDUH

  3. Red flags should abound when a 33rd degree Mason creates what’s billed as “The happiest place on Earth”.

    For children.

  4. my buddies and I used to invade Disney World ever few weeks shortly after it was opened. there were plenty of lightly traveled roads nearby, off Disney property, and you could hike your way in, over a few monster dunes they built, through the underground city entrances for deliveries, up stairs or elevators a few stories, and you could find your way through retail storage areas, walk in through the back of a retail store on Main Street, or go into any of the hotels. what a hoot. one time everyone got busted but me. we always went in 1 or 2-person groups, no more, every man for himself. we always would hook up in front of a giant hat store on Main Street. I am wondering around for 30 minutes trying to find my buddies – nada. after a while, one of them comes running up and says “we all got busted. you got to come take us out of the Disney jail. he was closely followed by Disney security, who were very pissed and escorted me down into their own jail. After an hour of lectures, they took me to the van we came in, I followed them back to jail, then they released my buddies and escorted off Disney property. We were outlawed from ever going to Disney ever again, either as a paying customer or otherwise.

    Once more we did the unthinkable, few months later, and had one hell of a time. this was back when they had A,B,C,D,E tickets, and the place was very porous. Oh to be a young adult again. Early 70’s before the oil embargo, and even after it. Missed the Vietnam draft by a mere few months.

    Disney is a Zionist-MK Ultra-CIA-Mossad-Vatican-Monarchy hell hole. everything about them wreaks of soulless devil worship and child pedophilia. F-em and the horse they raped and rode in on. haven’t been there in 15-years (have kids and before I knew).

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