Resurfaced Photos Highlight a Time Walt Disney Came to Kalamazoo
While Facebook tends to be the social media app that I try to avoid during my free time, today I was pleasantly surprised to see that a public figure I, as a Floridian, am very familiar with once visited southwest Michigan.
The Facebook page, Gull Lake History Page, recently shared a series of pictures from the time that Walt Disney himself dropped by the Gilmore Family's property on Gull Lake.
Like stepping back in time, the 50+ photos show a crowd of fans waiting to greet him as he steps off a boat onto the shore in front of the Gilmore Family's residence. Since his visit was in 1964, most of these gems are in black and white. Take a look:
According to the post made by Gull Lake History Page, Disney also visited The Gilmore Car Museum as well as the Upjohn Company.
The Upjohn Company was a pharmaceutical manufacturing company that was established in 1886 and owned by Pfizer from 2015 to 2020. The company has since merged with Mylan to form Viatris. You can read more here.
It turns out, as I'm still learning, there were family ties between the Upjohn family and the Gilmore family which would explain why Disney visited those two companies specifically. MLive.com covered a brief history of the family in a 2015 article which you can read here.
However, these photos from Disney's visit made me wonder...was he planning on opening up a theme park here in Michigan?
While my search was fruitless in discovering any plans for a Disney park in Michigan I did discover a rumor that had circulated back in 2018. The rumor was that a Disney park was going to be built in the town of Escanaba in the UP of all places.
Apparently, according to Snopes.com, a story was widely shared promoting the future arrival of a brand new Disney park but it originated from,
An obscure satirical web site managed to trick many readers with a fabricated story in the summer of 2018.
Whoops. That had to be an incredible let-down for those Disney fans who find themselves in the great state of Michigan instead of Florida or California.
Regardless, what a wonderful reminder that Kalamazoo has a rich and sometimes random history. Thank you to Gull Lake History Page for sharing these photos!
Speaking of vintage photos, you won't believe how cheap things used to be in Kalamazoo according to these vintage newspapers...