Disneyland Honors Harrison “Buzz” Price With Window on Main Street
Another window honoring a person who has contributed greatly to Disneyland legacy has been unveiled. This window honoring Disney Legend Harrison “Buzz” Price can be found on the left side of City Hall next to a small staircase. This window honors the man who was instrumental in picking the locations for both Disneyland and later Walt Disney World. He also went on to help start the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia at the personal request of Walt Disney.
This man was honored in a ceremony led by Tom Staggs (Chairman, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts) and Michael Colglazier (President, Disneyland Resort), the Dapper Dans of Disneyland, and Mickey Mouse. The ceremony, on a beautiful spring morning, was attended by family of Price (interview with his son, David Price below), honored guests, and Disney legends.
Harrison “Buzz” Price was born in Oregon City, Oregon on May 17, 1921. His family later moved to San Diego and Price went on to major in mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology. He want on to fight in World War II and then later get a Masters in Business Administration from Stanford before being asked by Walt and Roy O. Disney to help find a location for a theme park they were developing.
In 1953, Price was a part of the Stanford Research Institute when he was tasked with finding the best location for Disneyland. “I asked Walt if he had a bias about the location for his Magic Kingdom,” Price recalled years later. “‘Absolutely not!’ he said. ‘You tell me where the best location is.’” This began a search of Southern California by Price that eventually settled on Orange County based on climate, population trends, and accessibility. Nearly sixty years later, millions of people would probably agree that Price picked the perfect location for Disneyland.
Economics Research Associates
Many people would be surprised to learn that this man who was so instrumental in the shaping of Disney Theme Parks was actually not a cast member. In 1958, Price started a company called Economics Research Associates (ERA) with the support of Walt Disney. This company was in the business of economic consulting for the theme park industry.
“Buzz was the father of our industry of economic consulting,” notes Ray Braun, Entertainment Practice Leader for AECOM Economics (formerly ERA). “He invented the science. He was mentor to me and many of us in this practice. He set the course and paved the way for us.”
In 1969 he sold ERA and formed a company called the Harrison Price Company where continued to consult theme parks and provide economic feasibility analysis for companies around the globe.
For The Walt Disney Company alone, Price conducted over 150 studies. This included helping find the best locations for both Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney.
California Institute of the Arts
Harrison “Buzz” Price was one of the founders of California Institute of the Arts and continued as a trustee for over three decades. He was personally selected to do this by Walt Disney. In 1966 as Walt Disney was entering the hospital, Diane Disney remembers, “Dad had placed a stack of notebooks in Buzz’s hands, saying, ‘Here, take care of my school for me!’ Dad knew the hands to place his dream in, that Buzz would see it through… and he did.”
Since its first academic year in 1970, CalArts has expanded to six schools of study in Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater. It currently enrolls 1,441 students. It has been dubbed as “the Harvard Business school of Animation” by the Los Angeles Times. Both Walt Disney and Harrison “Buzz” Price’s legacies live on through this school. Alumni of CalArts include John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Tim Burton, Bob Rogers, Ed Harris, Andrew Stanton, Katey Segal, Bill Irwin, David Salle, Mike Kelly and Don Cheadle to name a few.
In 2003, Price was named a Disney Legend by Walt Disney Company Chairman/CEO Michael Eisner. In the ceremony Eisner said of Price, “Buzz Price was as much responsible for the success of the Walt Disney Company as anybody except Walt Disney himself, in that he worked with Walt not only on finding the sites of both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but on many other new initiatives, like the 1964 New York World’s Fair and the 1960 Winter Olympics in the Lake Tahoe area,” Eisner recalled. “But more than being a pioneer and visionary, he was one of the nicest and most professional and gentle friends of the company.”
Ten years later at the window dedication for Harrison “Buzz” Price at Disneyland, Tom Staggs (Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) said of Price, “Buzz Price was a true Disney Legend in every sense of the word whose extraordinary contributions left a lasting mark on Walt Disney Company that few can match,” said Tom Staggs. “In addition to helping Walt select the locations for both Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort, Buzz played a significant role in virtually every project that has made Disney Parks an iconic institution.”
Harrison “Buzz” Price not only left behind a legacy for the Walt Disney Company; he also left behind a legacy within his family. In an interview his son David Price talked about the legacy left behind by his father:
With the dedication of this window on Main Street, USA it is insured that the legacy of Harrison “Buzz” Price will be remembered. His contributions to the Walt Disney Company will not be forgotten.
His window says: