Letters to the Editor

Disney rejected Miami-Dade for theme park

Re the Dec. 27 story County wants forest land reclassified: I was shocked to learn from Miami-Dade Commissioner Dennis Moss’ quote that, “When Disney was looking to build Disney World, they came to Miami, and we told Disney to take a hike and they took a hike to Central Florida.”

I had no idea Moss was “in the know” in 1958 when Disney commissioned Economics Research Associates for a research study for a possible second theme park. That study recommended Florida as the premier location, and the 1961 follow-up study recommended Central Florida — Ocala or Orlando — not South Florida as the preferred location.

Then, in 1963, Roy Disney approved a confidential program to buy land in Central Florida under fictitious names, after Disney officials made a national tour to select the final location for the new theme park.

Moss was first elected to the County Commission in 1993. The groundbreaking began for Disney World in 1967.

I wonder who were the unidentified officials in then-Dade County who told Disney to “take a hike” when Disney does not seem to have ever expressed an interest in South Florida as a potential location for its Disney World attraction. To the contrary, official Disney history is that Disney particularly chose Central Florida in order to not compete with existing tourism areas on the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.

Is Moss trying to pull a fast one on the Miami-Dade residents in his haste to pursue a massive theme park development in his district, contending that we lost a nonexistent opportunity once and cannot afford to do so 50 years later? The people of Miami-Dade deserve to know the truth. Public officials’ obfuscation and misdirection should be denounced.

Benedict P. Kuehne, Miami