[Originally published January 29, 2003.]

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May 2, 1953

Dear Walt,

Greetings from sunny Anaheim! For the past two days, we’ve been touring the grounds you’ve selected for your forthcoming theme park, “Disney-Land”, and let us just say: We think you’ve picked a swell location. We couldn’t really appreciate it until we saw the property for ourselves. It’s beautiful, Walt, really, really beautiful. We have no problem at all with the location.

That said, Walt, we’d like to discuss some of the other aspects of the park. We’ve now seen the artist’s renderings, and have toured the exhibits under construction, and frankly, we’re a bit concerned. When you told us that you were planning on building something called “Disney-Land,” we imagined a park devoted to your lovable animated characters. In fact, it didn’t even occur to us that you might have something else in mind. We know now that one of us should have asked. We blame ourselves, Walt.

While all of us agree that a 28-acre interactive romp through your body does provide an enlightening educational experience, we wonder if the market for such a tour is considerably more limited than you seem to realize. Please don’t get us wrong — it’s nothing personal about you, Walt. In case we’ve never mentioned it before, you’re a very handsome man. (We’ve been meaning to ask: Have you been working out?) But your handsomeness notwithstanding, we fear that your target demographic of young families might feel a bit wary about riding a log flume through your lower intestine.

That’s not to say we feel the park is a disaster — far from it! Indeed, every aspect of the park bears that distinctive stamp of Disney genius! It’s just that we feel that a few small changes may be required to make it the success we all believe it should be. For instance: We think the idea of greeting guests with costumed animals is a swell one. But instead of having them announce that they represent undigested meat, perhaps they could be characters you’ve created, and be mute? You see? A little change can make a big difference!

Similarly, the boat ride need not take visitors on a trip through your sinuses — it could just as easily be, we don’t know, the Caribbean. This would not only obviate the need for the scrub-down of visitors afterward, it could maybe help explain the singing pirates you have planned. (Frankly, Walt, the pirates confuse us. Are you feeling okay? How long has it been since your last vacation?) We’re just blue-sky’ing here. We’ll think of something. We all had a terrific time on the spinning-teacup ride — all we need to do is come up with a better name for it than “My First Experience With Mescal.” As for the “Trip Through the Fraught Terrain of My Nightmares,” while we agree that having thousands of dolls from around the world shriek the same damn song at you over and over is indeed nightmarish, our marketing boys think that we can persuade visitors that it’s actually a ton of fun. They sold Darby O’Gill and the Little People; they can sell this.

Obviously, retooling like this will take money, and to save costs, there’s one major attraction we feel can be cut entirely. We know that it’s a favorite of yours, but the attraction you’ve dubbed the “Extremely Protuberant Cyst or Tumor” can probably be cut from the park. We should add, though, that we like the giant-sphere idea, and the acronym “EPCOT,” and we feel that both can probably be revisited at some later date. Also, Walt, on a personal note: You might want to have a doctor take a look at that.

We know that this wasn’t the reaction you were expecting, and it is, after all, your park, so yours is the final decision. That said, if you take heed of none of our other advice, please do consider changing the large cylindrical structure located at the dead center of the park. We think you know the one we mean. Might we suggest that, with minimal modifications, it could be converted into a castle?

Sincerely yours,
The Board