The Beginning of WED
As Walt became increasingly serious about the idea of a park, he needed to find a way to involve talented employees. In the early 1950s, Walt didn't have the support of the Disney company itself. By this time, it was publicly held, and Roy was concerned that stockholders would rebel if they heard that their company was embarking on something as risky as Walt proposed. “But I kept working on it,” said Walt, “and I worked on it with my own money. Not the studio’s money. My own money.”
In December 1952, WED Enterprises was created. The company, which eventually metamorphosed into Walt Disney Imagineering, was named using the initials of Walt’s name. It’s formation provided Walt money, since part of the deal with the larger Disney organization involved a licensing agreement in which WED was paid by Walt Disney Productions for the use of Walt’s name. WED also gave Walt the opportunity to put together a small group of his animation staff and some of Hollywood’s finest art directors to begin serious work on Disneyland.
Early on, Walt brought in brother-in-law Bill Cottrell to run the place, an art director named Dick Irvine, and treasurer Mickey Clark to oversee the finances. When Walt would travel, he enjoyed bringing back treasures -- both physical ones and ideas -- from his trips. As his friend, famed writer Ray Bradbury, commented, Walt was always searching for “a good metaphor. He was a jackdaw in the meadow, in the fields of the lord. When he found a bright object, he’d think, ‘Oh my God, that’s good,’ and carry it back.”