2008 Phil Smith

Many NFFC Disney Legends dreamed of working for Disney before they were hired, but Phil Smith may be the only one who began his career without knowing that he was working for Disney. He was hired in November of 1965 to work as legal counsel during the final assembly of land plots that today comprise Walt Disney World. The Florida project remained a well-guarded secret, so it was only after being hired that Phil learned that he was working for Disney. Once hired, Phil became the first permanent Cast Member at Walt Disney World, and he even lived on the Disney property (he was the only resident) during early construction. At the time he was hired, Disney was still buying small parcels, and Phil worked to ensure that the company had clear title on its purchases. Phil worked with the Florida legislature to establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The District, which established immediate governing jurisdiction for Walt Disney World, was approved in 1967. During construction of Disney World, Phil reviewed all construction contracts and learned the laws governing theme park operations. He also negotiated all the contracts for the initial sponsors of the Magic Kingdom. After the resort’s opening in 1971, Phil oversaw all day-to-day legal issues. In 1973, he assumed the additional title of Vice President, Legal. He later was responsible for all contracts for Epcot. After Epcot’s 1982 opening, Phil became Vice President of Administration. He was promoted to Senior Vice President of Administration in 1987. In those roles he was responsible for such operations as backstage shops, engineering, safety, food distribution and more. Phil retired in 1992, after 27 years with the Company.

 

 

Phil Smith

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