There would be no Walt Disney World Resort without Robert Price “Bob” Foster, and today, one of the most influential persons in Disney history was named a Disney Legend at the 2022 D23 Expo.
Many of you reading this article will be familiar with the term “Project X,” Walt Disney’s then-super secret project in the 1960s to buy the 27,000+ acres in Central Florida that would become Walt Disney World and the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Behind the plethora of land acquisitions and political lobbying, there was one man: Robert Price “Bob” Foster.
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Bob’s daughter, Debby Swinston, had to take the D23 Expo stage to accept his posthumous award on his behalf.
“In the early 60s, my father secretly negotiated the deals that laid the groundwork for what is today the most popular vacation Resort in the world, Walt Disney World,” she explained. “He began crisscrossing the country, and unbeknownst to us and under the watchful eye of Walt Disney, he was quietly scouting for and purchasing over 27,000 acres of land that would become Walt Disney World. Using an alias and diverting attention from himself and his employer, he single-handedly negotiated with over one hundred landowners across the United States. He’s been compared to a secret agent, for covertly negotiating one of the largest purchases ever made by a single corporation and for implementing the improvement district that would allow Walt Disney World to become a reality.”
Bob passed away earlier this year at the age of 97. One week after learning that he was to receive this recognition. The land that he helped acquire and set up with special self-governing privileges in Orange County and Osceola county would provide the foundation upon which The Walt Disney Company would build four Theme Parks, two water parks, a shopping and dining center, a plethora of Resort Hotels and two cities, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, and troves of conservation space.
This recognition and celebration come as Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District has been the recipient of a different kind of attention. And if the powers that be at Disney and Reedy Creek cannot alter the make-up of the special district to properly adhere to the Florida State Constitution and win back the approval from the politicians in Tallahassee, Disney World will lose its special realm of self-governance by June 2023.
We at Disney Fanatic will continue to share breaking news and stories from the D23 Expo as new developments continue to come to light.