Page 12 - JUNE 2015
P. 12

The Florida Project:

How transformed Osceola County

                                                                                      By Liz Stemm

Osceola County was a tourist      advertising format and tourist     Ford Model Ts with canned
destination long before Walt      souvenir, with their famous        goods, extra tires, and extra gas
Disney, but the influence of his  “wish you were here” tagline.      in five-gallon cans. Once they
theme parks forever changed       In Kissimmee, hotels such as       arrived at their destination, the
the region.                       the Tropical Hotel attracted       tin-can tourists slept in their
In the early days of Osceola      wealthy tourists with their        cars at tourist camps.
County, the natural beauty        luxury accommodations. Prior       This change in the type
of Florida attracted real         to the addition of highways to     of traveler also changed
estate developers, artists,       the southern states, only the      their needs for vacation
photographers, game hunters,      wealthy could afford to travel by  entertainment. Roadside
naturalists, sports fishermen,    way of rail or steamboats. But     attractions began popping up
and the likes of industrialists   all of that was about to change.   all through Florida, Osceola
Hamilton Disston and Henry        Tin Can Tourists began             County included. Gatorland
Flagler.                          traveling to Florida in 1919.      was founded by Owen Godwin
In order to attract tourists and  Instead of staying in fancy        in 1949, originally opening
potential residents, real-estate  hotels, these vacationers packed   under the name “Snake Village
developers invited well-known     up their automobiles and           and Alligator Farm.” The
photographers to take pictures    headed for the tropical paradise   name proved to be too scary
of their hotels and help design   of Florida. They earned their      for guests, so it was renamed
tourist attractions. Penny        name from the method in which      in 1954. With the boom of the
postcards became a popular        they traveled - packing their      tourism industry in the 1960s,
                                                                     Gatorland became a popular

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