This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
in the company of dogs. journey,not a


life is a


destination.


The mouse ears cast a pretty big shadow across Central Florida even before Disney World first opened in October, 1971. Before they opened, Harris Rosen had been hired by Walt Disney Company to be their Director of Hotel Planning for his experience, business acumen and creativity. He arrived in Orlando by way of New York City, Acapulco and Los Angeles backed by a career that included stints with the Waldorf Astoria, Hilton Hotels and the New Yorker Hotel. According to Harris Rosen's curriculum


vitae, he “left Disney in 1974 and purchased his first hotel...” Forty years later, Mr. Rosen, an affable


and humble man, is comfortable being candid about what really happened. “I was fired for not respecting the mouse,” he told us during an interview earlier this year. Apparently, it was clear to an executive


that he most likely would never become a fully integrated Disney person. He sealed his fate that day in his exit interview when he asked, sarcastically if the reason he was being terminated was because his ears were too small. And the hotel he purchased? Here is how


Mr. Rosen explains it. –by Anna Cooke 24 THE NEW BARKER


“Between 1973 and 1974, the Central Florida hotel industry was in shambles. With the stock market decline and the Arab oil embargo, virtually every hotel in Orlando was in serious financial difficulty with foreclo- sures and bankruptcies looming. So, I decided to buy a small 256-room Quality Inn that fronted both Interstate 4 and International Drive. In May, 1974, I met with the owner, Mr. Jim


Morgan, who was so pleased to have a buyer that he hugged me, saying God must have sent me. A week later, Jim, myself and a mortgage broker from Travelers Insurance Company met to discuss my interest in the hotel. The broker asked me how much money I had in the bank. I thought that was a strange question, but fig- ured it must have been important information for him to have. So, I told him I had twenty thousand dollars. He quickly extended his hand and said, ‘Harris, it looks like we have a deal. Congratulations. The down pay- ment will be $20,000 and we will ask you to assume the mortgage of $2.5 million dollars.’ The closing was June 24, 1974. I was now the


proud owner of the Quality Inn. But then I realized I had just given away all the money I had in the world for a hotel running at 15 percent occupancy and hem- orrhaging cash badly. I walked into my new office, put my head on the desk and cried, believing I had just done the dumbest thing in my life.” Thankfully, Harris had a plan of action that includ-


ed meeting with the top motor coach companies in New England, New Jersey and New York. He wanted to convince them to use his new hotel for all of their bus tours to Orlando. But first, he had to get in front of them. I didn’t have enough money to fly, so I hitchhiked


to New York City,” said Harris. When executives at the motor coach companies found out about Harris’s trav- el arrangements, he was provided with overnight accommodations and free transportation to wherever he needed to go. Harris met with the top seven motorcoach compa-


nies on the East Coast. He presented each operator with his business card and told them to write down a room rate they felt comfortable with. He told them that the rate would be honored for a minimum of one year. His last meeting was with Paragon Tours in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he met with Jim Penler, the president of the company, and Ed Camara, the chief operating officer. At the end of their meeting, Jim men- tioned that he knew of a couple who were leaving for Florida the following morning, and would be happy to drive Harris home, if he would provide overnight accommodations for them at the Quality Inn.


www.TheNewBarker.com


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104