25 November 2011

A friend in deeds

Names have a power in Walt Disney World, whether you notice them or not. They lend an authenticity to the crates and cargo found from Frontierland to Tomorrowland and they pay respect to the individuals who have helped shape the Vacation Kingdom. Sometimes, however, a well-crafted name is as historically significant as it is hysterical. Take, for instance, this window on Main Street, U.S.A. credited to M. T. Lott and Donn Tatum.

Donn Tatum was Roy’s right-hand man and started with the company in 1956 and would rise as high as chairman within the company. During the exploration process into what would become Walt Disney World, Tatum was tasked to evaluate the financial standing of the cities the Disney group were considering as possible sites for the new resort area. The real story in this window, however, comes from M. T. Lott and its subsidiaries: Tomahawk Properties, Latin American Development, Ayefour Corporation, Bay Lake Properties, Reedy Creek Ranch Lands and Compass East Corporation.

As you may have put together, Bay Lake and Reedy Creek are fairly recognizable names to Walt Disney World guests by this point in time. Along with the rest, these were the dummy companies used to purchase the land that would become Walt Disney World. The cleverest of the names belonged to Ayefour, as in I-4 the interstate running along the boundary of Walt Disney World. So, where does M. T. Lott come into play?
In late 1964 and early 1965, Disney set up a half-dozen dummy corporations, all based in Miami, to take title on the land. Ayefour Corporation was listed and run by [Robert] Foster; Bay Lake Properties and Tomahawk Properties, by Bob Price; Compass East and the Latin American Development & Management corporations, by Roy’s [Disney] alias, Roy Davis, and Reedy Creek Ranch Lands, by the mythical M. T. Lott.

--pp. 27, Realityland by David Koenig, 2007

So there you have it, they story behind the holdings of M. T. Lott. And in case you haven’t caught on to the joke by now, say ‘M. T. Lott’ out loud a couple of times, I’m sure you’ll get the picture!

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