WQED mobile
menu
close menu


- CHAPTER 1 -
Our great American imagination

unusualBuildings

CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18

RICK Well, different places have different big things. If you find yourself in central Florida, and you’re driving through Kissimmee, you may come upon the Big Orange.

ELI You’re about two and a half miles east of the entrance of Disney, off of one-ninety-two.

RICK That’s Eli Sfassie from Gary, Indiana. He came down to this part of Florida when there were still orange groves everywhere.

ELI Turn around and look across the street. That’s what it looked like: nothing. Just trees. When Disney came here in 1971, I came over here, and ever since they been here, I grab a hold of their shirttail, and they pull me all the way to the bank.

JOE Well I saw this big old great orange, and I was down in Florida, so you have to stop and get some oranges when you are in Florida.

SISTER FRANCESCA And that‘s why we came here because we wanted to, to buy oranges. I wanted to send oranges back to the people that I, I left behind.

ELI I bought this property. It had an orange building on it but it didn’t have the dome. So we’re sitting in the restaurant there one day, and one of my friends come by and I’m telling him, Hey, we ought to put a dome on that thing and make it look like an orange. And the guy said Well, I can do that. Come to find out he’s in the fiberglass business, but the only thing he was making in the fiberglass was outhouses. Believe it or not.

RICK Building Orange World wasn’t easy. Lots of things went wrong. They called it Eli’s Folly. But in the mid 80s, six ironworkers from Michigan finished the Big Orange.

ELI There it is. And it probably tripled our business within two months.

NATHAN
Now they consider it as a landmark. It always makes me smile to see people you know that they come here to meet and know where they're going, you know.

JOHN This kind of place make you wonder what's on the inside you know, like if they have fresh squeezed orange juice for you or whatever. It definitely gets your attention.

NATHAN As they pass by, you see this place and like Oh my God! A big old orange! you know.

TINA They think it's all fruit. So they get a big surprise when they come through the door.

ELI If it was just a plain gift shop, we probably wouldn't even be here.

KAREN They think we should have everything that has an orange on it. They want orange key chains, they want orange cups, they want orange shirts.

ELI If you're coming to Florida, and you're... you know, just like you're saying, Let's go to Disney, Dad, or you're gonna go. If they say well, Let's go and get an orange or something like that, and they'll come...

NATHAN People that stop here, you want to take a picture. You see this place, you got to get a picture to take back home with you, you know.

ELI That's a pretty thing to compare: a little orange and compare Disney but that's the way it works.

NATHAN A lot of people come up and grab me, Get the Fruity Man over here, take a picture with him too, you know. So I take part in a lot of pictures myself you know.

ELI It's unusual. See, it's just something different. At night, it's lit up. We have neon on it. We've had movies taken of it. Meryl Street. Diana Keaton. You know. We don't care whether people know it's famous or not. I just like it because I own it.

 


BEHIND THE SCENES | ORDER A DVD | READ THE TRANSCRIPT | PRESS CLIPPINGS
OTHER RICK SEBAK PROGRAMS

Produced by Rick Sebak and WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh

Made possible by Viewers Like You and CPB The Corporation for Public Broadcasting,
a private corporation funded by the American people.

 

featured specials

  • Portraits for the Homefront: The Story of Elizabeth Black
    The poignant story unfolds as we explore Black’s lost art career, seek out elderly veterans who encountered Miss Black on the battlefield, and present to amazed and appreciative families portraits that never arrived.
  • Classical Crossroads
    Where classical music crosses paths with rock and roll, world music, folk music and jazz. Listen to interviews with people who make good music here.

featured specials

  • Portraits for the Homefront: The Story of Elizabeth Black
    The poignant story unfolds as we explore Black’s lost art career, seek out elderly veterans who encountered Miss Black on the battlefield, and present to amazed and appreciative families portraits that never arrived.
  • Classical Crossroads
    Where classical music crosses paths with rock and roll, world music, folk music and jazz. Listen to interviews with people who make good music here.

featured specials