Harrison “Buzz” Price, the research economist who recommended Anaheim to Walt Disney as the location for Disneyland, passed away Sunday, August 15, at the age of 89. He had been in declining health during the last year, his family said, due to a chronic anemic condition.
“Despite his failing health, he continued to demonstrate his trademark humor, cutting edge wit and enduring love for family and friends,” his son David Price said on behalf of his mother, Anne Shaw Price, and the Price family. “His legacy of laughter, wit, love, passion and commitment leaves its mark on each of us – family, friends and colleagues in the leisure and recreation industry he loved.”
Funeral arrangements will be conducted privately by the family.
“Buzz” Price was recognized as the pioneer in the field of theme parks, resort and leisure-recreation project feasibility almost from the day in 1953 that Walt and Roy O. Disney chose him “to determine the economic feasibility of the best location for a new project – Disneyland.” Price, an engineering graduate of California Institute of Technology, had joined Stanford Research Institute after receiving his Masters in Business Administration from Stanford University.
“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.’” Price analyzed the potential sites in the Southern California area, ultimately focusing on Orange County after considering population trends, accessibility and climate factors.
They selected 160 acres of orange groves in Anaheim, just off the Santa Ana Freeway at Harbor Boulevard. “We hit it right on the nose,” Price later recalled, “dead center. That was the perfect place for it.”
Encouraged by Walt Disney, Price formed Economics Research Associates (ERA) in 1958. Ultimately, he conducted 150 studies for the Walt Disney Company (including site and feasibility analysis for Walt Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland) and “over 3,000 projects” for other clients.
“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.”
View the entire obituary PDF here.
Read facts and quotes from “Buzz” Price here.
Photos: Walt Disney, CV Wood, and Harrison Price; Harrison “Buzz” Price; Roy O. Disney and Buzz Price; Roy E. Disney and Buzz Price; “By the Numbers” book jacket
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