Now-Deceased Anaheim City Manager Explains How Disneyland Became Disneyland: Video

Chuck Schmidt's recent Staten Island Advance story is about the 50th Anniversary of Tomorrowland DVD that documented the 2009 Disneyland event.

But the more interesting story Schmidt found involved the relationship between former Anaheim City Manager Keith Murdoch and Walt Disney and his theme park.

Murdoch, one of several speakers Ape Pen Publishing enlisted to speak on the DVD, was Anaheim's city manager from 1950-1976, so he was at the center of it all before the park opened in 1955. He died in 2011 at age 92.

As Schmidt makes clear in "Valuable Disneyland Lessons Available on 50th Anniversary of Tomorrowland DVD," Anaheim wanted Disneyland as much as Disney wanted his theme park there.

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"We were looking to improve the economic status of the city by attracting new industries," Murdoch says on the DVD. "We looked at Disney as another industrial opportunity."

But Anaheim had to quietly woo Uncle Walt, who was being wooed by others all over Southern California. After the jump is video of Murdoch telling "How Disneyland Became Disneyland" ...

Murdoch and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce invited Disney to send a representative to judge the city's annual Halloween parade. "It was a good sales tool," Murdoch said.

Disney sent his personal rep Nat Winecoff, who supervised many aspects of Disneyland's development from 1952 through its opening, to serve as the parade judge. "After the parade, we adjourned to a car in an alley nearby," Murdoch remembered with a laugh, "and Nat outlined the criteria of Walt's dream."

The big guy wanted the site to be in an undeveloped area with a major highway nearby. After several proposed spots were shot down, the current site near Katella and Harbor was presented, although at the time Cerritos Street ran right through the heart of the property.

"What are we gonna do with that street?" Disney asked when he looked at the map.

"We've closed streets before for no reason," Murdoch answered. "Why not close that one?"

"If you can close the street," Disney replied, "we've got a deal."

The deal was, of course, done, and there's now a Cerritos Street on one side of Disneyland and an East Cerritos Street on the other. Moving a mountain--the Matterhorn--was probably a snap after that.

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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