"The Power of a Dream" was the theme of today's luncheon presentation by Tom Moses, city manager for the City of Lake Buena Vista, FL. Tom, who worked for the Reedy creek Improvement District - a 40-square-mile independent governmental entity whose biggest landowner is the Walt Disney World Company - for more than 30 years, today talked about his perspectives on the vision and development of the Disney empire, truly one of the happiest - and safest - places on earth.
Tom said that in 1969, he was lured away from a career in Birmingham, AL, by a phone call from Roy Disney. He said Mr. Disney flew him to California to meet with a team of architects and engineers who had worked on the Disney property in Anaheim, but had bigger and better plans for a 28,000-acre parcel of land in central Florida. Tom said he was impressed by all of the creative thinking and the intense planning that was going on, but didn't think the plan was feasible. Famous last words! Tom eventually signed-on with the project, thinking it might be a "fun proposition" for the next few years.
Fast forward several decades and Tom can now look back at a career where he's helped overee fire- and life-safety for a succession of Disney developments, including Disney World’s four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. About 46 million people visit Disney World’s various resorts each year.
One of the many stories Tom shared with today's luncheon attendees was that right from the start, it was decided that the Disney properties in Florida would all be protected with automatic sprinkler systems. "It was the best decision we ever made," he says proudly, noting that in the past 43 years, the total fire loss for the complex that includes 4 theme parks, more than 30 hotels, and hundreds of commercial facilities, is less than $250,000.
Tom also talked about the many fire and life safety features that were built into the properties, all a reality, he says, because someone had a vision. He encouraged meeting attendees to think big. "The key to better, safer communities is the ability to dream,' he said.
You can read an interview with Tom Moses and Jerry Wooldridge, who Tom hired in 1998 and now serves as building official and manager of building and safety for the Reedy Creek Improvement District, in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.
Tom Moses poses with Jerry Wooldridge, Building Official and Manager of Building and Safety for the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and Robert Solomon, manager of NFPA's Bullding Fire Protection and Life Safety Codes division.