The Strange Neighborhood on WDW Property

By Keith Mahne

You see that marker on the map above? I’m going to zoom in on it in a moment, but isn’t that strange? It’s a tiny neighborhood on WDW property! But who lives there? Who are these lucky people and why has Disney allowed them to stay there so long? Let’s get our detective hats on and try to find out what exactly is going on at this tiny piece of paradise after the page break…

Let’s start by zooming in on the location and taking a real close look over the property…

What in the world could this be? How in the world are there 9 houses tucked away on Disney World property? Well let’s see what it looks like at street level just by using Google Maps…

We see Disney manufactured street signs marking the road to this secret location, but what’s going on in the next picture…

Can you see all those signs telling you to stay out?!? No wonder there isn’t a Google Maps street view of the neighborhood. That first sign…can you make it out? It reads “Service & Authorized Vehicles ONLY”. But this is a neighborhood, why do we have to stay out?

In order to fully understand what I believe this neighborhood is we have to take a look back to the beginning of the Walt Disney World Resort and a little thing called the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) is the immediate governing jurisdiction for the land of the Walt Disney World Resort. As of the late 1990s, it comprised an area of 38.6 sq mi (100 km2) within the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties in Florida. The RCID includes the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, and unincorporated RCID land.

After the success of Disneyland in California, Walt Disney began planning a second park on the East Coast. He also disliked the businesses that had sprung up around Disneyland, and therefore wanted control of a much larger area of land for the new project. As a result, Disney used multiple shell companies to buy up land at very low prices from unknowing landowners in the area that would eventually become the district. These company names are listed on the upper story windows of what is now the Main Street USA section of Walt Disney World, including Compass East Corporation, Latin-American Development and Management Corporation, Ayefour Corporation (named because of nearby I-4, or Interstate 4), Tomahawk Properties, Incorporated, Reedy Creek Ranch, Incorporated and Bay Lake Properties, Incorporated.

On March 11, 1966, these landowners, all fully owned subsidiaries of what is now The Walt Disney Company, petitioned the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, which served Orange County, Florida, for the creation of the Reedy Creek Drainage District under Chapter 298 of the Florida Statutes. After a period during which some minor landowners within the boundaries opted out, the Drainage District was incorporated on May 13, 1966, as a public corporation. Among the powers of a Drainage District were the power to condemn and acquire property outside its boundaries “for the public use”.

Original EPCOT Model

However, Walt Disney knew that his plans for the land would be easier to carry out with more independence. Among his ideas for his Florida project was his proposed EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, which was to be a futuristic planned city (and which was also known as Progress City). He envisioned a real working city with both commercial and residential areas, but one that also continued to showcase and test new ideas and concepts for urban living.

Therefore, the Disney Company petitioned the Florida State Legislature for the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which would have almost total autonomy within its borders. The planned EPCOT city was also emphasized in this lobbying effort. Chapter 67-764[1] of the Laws of Florida was eventually signed into law by Governor Claude R. Kirk, Jr. on May 12, 1967, creating the District. On the same day, Governor Kirk also signed the incorporation acts for two cities inside the District: Bay Lake (Chapter 67-1104) and Reedy Creek (Chapter 67-1965). (The City of Reedy Creek was renamed the City of Lake Buena Vista around 1970.)

Map showing RCID cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. The arrow points to the location of our strange neighborhood.

So what does all of this have to do with our original question of what in the heck that little neighborhood is doing on Disney World property? Well this is what I believe it is…

You see, a five-member Board of Supervisors governs the District, elected by the “landowners of the District. These members, senior employees of The Walt Disney Company, each own undeveloped land within the District, the only land in the District not technically controlled by Disney or used for public road purposes. The only residents of the District, also Disney employees or their immediate family members, live in two small communities, one in each city. In the 2000 census, Bay Lake had 23 residents, all in the community on the north shore of Bay Lake, and Lake Buena Vista had 16 residents, all in the community about a mile north of Downtown Disney. These residents elect the officials of the cities, but since they don’t actually own any land, they don’t have any power in electing the District Board of Supervisors.

So there you have it folks! These lucky residents of a quant little community on Walt Disney World property are the reason we see this neighborhood hidden away. Time to figure out two more things…the first, where is the other community hidden, and the second….how in the hell do I become a resident?!? Keep your eyes open until we meet again with the answers to the remainder of the puzzle and let us know what you think about all of this in the comments below. That was fun!!

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Andre the Giant visits Disneyland – 1975

By Keith Mahne

As the picture states, “Disneyland has many astonishing wonders. Another wonder was added, if only for a day, as it was treated to a rare visit by Andre The Giant. It was a visit neither Disneyland nor Andre will ever forget.” Today, we’ll travel back to 1975 and visit Disneyland the day this wrestling wonder had the time of his life at the Happiest Place On Earth. We will even see a photo of Andre posing with the rarely seen Main Street Cinema ‘phantom’ somewhere in Fantasyland…a rare sight indeed! Continue after the page break and have a look as Andre The Giant has a little fun at Disneyland in 1975…

WHOA!!! Can you believe this used to be a character on Main Street?!?!

Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

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Weird Disney: A Strange Look at Disney’s Past

By Keith Mahne

The Disney parks contain some of the most spectacular attractions and experiences the world has ever known. But just like everything else, it takes time to perfect that Disney quality. Back in the early days of the Disney Company, particularly Disneyland, several strange and just downright weird things were created to entertain guests or for marketing purposes. Things you wouldn’t have thought were capable of existing in a Disney theme park. Well, as you’ll witness today, they sure had a few doozies. Join us as we have a look at some of the strangest things to ever exist in Disney history…

Aunt Jemima Pancake Race:


One of the weirder promotional stunts that was ever held at Disneyland was the annual Aunt Jemima Pancake Race. The Pancake Races were a relatively short-lived phenomenon at Disneyland. These amateur athletic events were only staged in the Park from 1957 through 1964.

 America on Parade Float with a Witch Being Dunked:


The Aluminum Pig:

This was part of the Kaiser Aluminum attraction in Tomorrowland at Disneyland until July 1960. The mascot of this exhibit was KAP, the Kaiser Aluminum Pig, which is a reference to pig aluminum (the unmilled rough form of aluminum).

The Crane Bathroom:

Sponsored and installed by Crane Plumbing Company, their handout brochure boasted, “This fabulous bathroom, actually designed for the future, is available for your home today!”
Located in the same building as the Hall of Chemistry and Hall of Aluminum, the Bathroom of Tomorrow (built only to be seen, not used) featured a wide array of modern conveniences. The fixtures, styled by celebrity industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, were a vibrant citrus yellow (the ones that weren’t plated in 24-karat gold, that is). Because this was an unusual exhibit, it called for an unusual dedication. Instead of a formal ribbon cutting, Walt was joined by Dreyfuss and Crane Co. President Frank F. Elliot for a fun valve-turning ceremony.

Fishing in Frontierland:

Walt Disney doing a little fishing.

In Disneyland’s early days, the Rivers of America were stocked with fish. Kids could rent a rod and, if lucky, catch a fish to take home! That attraction was phased out, fairly early on.

A Silly Symphony Character Line Up:

During the 1930’s, Mickey Mouse Clubs were organized by local movie theater owners and allowed to come up with their own promotions. The picture above is one of the results.

Pinocchio and Edward G. Robinson:

During the 1940’s the studio tried to get creative in promoting new releases. Above is a publicity shot with a Marionette and a gangster.

100 Little People Dressed as Pinocchio:

For the premiere of the film, 100 little people were dressed as Pinocchio  and placed on the top of a marquee.

Scary Minnie Mouse:

One of the original Minnie Mouse costumes used in Disneyland’s early days…hope you don’t have any small children around while looking at this one.

Big Headed Mickey and Minnie:

Here are a couple of costumes of Minnie and Mickey that followed the “scary” ones. A step in the rite direction but definitely a part of Weird Disney history.

The Three Little Scary Pigs:

“Hi kids..we’re the three little pigs…can we have a hug…”

The White Rabbit:

Walt Disney riding with Alice and, what can only be described as the Donnie Darko Rabbit. Between the scary rabbit and the terrifying Minnie Mouse behind him, I think Walt may have needed a new pair of pants that day.

The Main Street Phantom of the Opera:

“Oh look little Jimmy this is Main Street, USA and over there is….RUN!!!!!”

Believe it or not there was once a Phantom of the Opera character haunting the Main Street Cinema in Disneyland’s early days.

The Space Family:


 Tomorrowland’s own Space Family.

The Dairy Bar:


Not a lot of info is available on this particular “exhibit” in Tomorrowland, other than its operating dates of January 21, 1956 to September 1, 1958. One thing we can assume is that Walt needed some cash and the American Dairy Association stepped up to the plate. Using the slogan, “Today’s Food Builds Tomorrow’s Man,” Disney was able to justify the presence of this exhibit in the middle of Tomorrowland. Guests could see what future farming might be like before partaking of a glass of “Nature’s most nearly perfect food” at the Dairy Bar.

Well there you have it folks, some of the weirdest ideas and creations that have come out of the Disney company. Do you have some other weird Disney history you think should have made the list? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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