Walt Disney Co., the Burbank-based entertainment conglomerate, has quietly acquired control of 2,045 acres along Interstate 4 in Osceola County, letting the company determine what type of development will be allowed near its theme park and other holdings.
The tract of dead citrus and scrub could prove vital to Disney's long-range growth plans, which hinge on the eventual alignment and completion of several road projects, including the planned extension of the Orlando Beltway, the Orlando Sentinel reported Sunday.
Disney officials said they do not plan to expand their own borders. But they will work with neighboring landholders to ensure the right kind of development occurs in the area, something Disney has not done before.
The deal could help Disney control its own destiny and that of its neighbors, the Sentinel reported. It is believed the company is trying to avoid the sort of congested development that has occured outside Disneyland in Anaheim.
The series of land deals was completed in April, three weeks after Disney announced plans to build a $2.5-billion, high-tech "dream city" in Osceola County.
Fifteen neighboring landholders deeded 276 acres to Herman J. Heidrich & Sons, an Orlando citrus firm with 1,769 acres along Disney's southwest border, the Sentinel reported.
The parcels were consolidated under a $17-million single mortgage guaranteed by Disney.