Walt Disney World might have been in St Louis were it not for a rude comment made at just the wrong time
In November 1963, Walt Disney, seeing his Californian Disneyland development doing so well, decided to open a second attraction. By all accounts he had settled on the town of Saint Louis as the location for his next venture, but this all changed at a cocktail party the night before he was due to sign the deal.
At the party, the then head of Anheuser-Busch Breweries, August Busch Jr., Stated that any man who designs an attraction in Saint Louis, expecting it to be a success, but does not sell beer and liquor ought to have his head read. Apparently this statement insulted the wholesome family image Disney was cultivating and he left the following day never having signed the deal.
In reality, the story might well have been an elaborate ruse to hide what Disney was really up to. Disney needed to purchase vast tracts of land in Orlando for his new development, but was acutely aware of the fact that, once land owners got wind of his plans, they would drive real estate prices up.
The cocktail party story, coupled with other rumours that Disney was interested in Saint Louis, served to keep attention away from Orlando. Disney was able to purchase the required 43 square miles for just $5 million, and by 1965 Walt Disney World Orlando was on it's way to becoming the most visited attraction in the world.