Having decided to build his new city in Florida, Walt set about buying huge quantities of land there -- ultimately, twice the total acreage of Manhattan Island. The purchases needed to be handled in secret to avoid a dramatic escalation in the price of the land. Disney attorney Bob Foster, using the name Robert Price, traveled down to Florida in April 1964.
Several months later, he was joined by Roy, wearing dark glasses and a fake beard and going by the name Roy Davis. The purchase of the first major pieces of Orlando property was finalized in August 1964, after several months of intense negotiations
Said longtime Disney executive Dick Nunis, “In the early days, the code name was Project X. When any of us would travel to Florida, we never bought a ticket that would take us directly to Florida. We would go through another city to get into Florida so no one could track us back to California.”
Executive Card Walker remembered one particular trip: “One night, we were having dinner in a small restaurant, and this waitress spotted Walt and came over to the table, saying, ‘I think I know who you are. You’re Walt Disney.’ At first he denied it -- ‘Oh, no, I’m not Walt Disney’ -- but finally Walt said, ‘Promise me you won’t tell anybody who I am.’ I think she wanted his autograph.”
Naturally, word started to get out in Orlando that somebody was buying up land. A guessing game ensued about the buyer. When Walt was finally identified, he went public. On November 15, 1965, Walt, Roy and Florida’s then governor, Haydon Burns, held a press conference.
It wasn’t remarkably informative at first. Walt conceded that he was building something that might be called Disney World, but details were minimal. Finally, a reporter asked the big question: Was it possible that it would be “what we think of as a city of tomorrow?”
Walt hemmed and hawed a bit, and finally became far more forthcoming: “I would like to be a part of building a city of tomorrow, as you might say, facilities for the community, community entertainments. I’d love the part of building up a school of tomorrow.”