The window on Main Street in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom reads, “Olsen’s Imported Novelties & Souvenirs, ‘World’s Largest Collection of Keychains,’ Jack Olsen ‘The Merchant Prince.’” The window is a playful tribute to the 22-year Disney career of the man who stocked the shelves at Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom with T-shirts, plush toys, ceramics, books, toys, and yes, key chains, for two decades.
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1923, Jack moved to California in 1926. Following graduation from Grossmont High School, Jack attended Penn State College, where he majored in mathematics.
He served four years in the Armed Forces during World War II, for which he received two Purple Hearts and two Presidential citations while a tech sergeant with the 78th Infantry Division in Europe.
After the War, he managed artists’ supply stores and art galleries in the Los Angeles area, and had his own ceramics manufacturing and importing firm. He was, throughout his life, an artist, painting in oils and watercolors, and creating in ceramics and other art media.
Employed in early 1955 as a background artist at the Walt Disney Studios, Jack soon became manager of stores then operated by the Studio at Disneyland. He was transferred to Disneyland’s Merchandising Division in 1960 as manager of Product and Project Design and Development. In 1964, he became director of the Merchandising Division, and held that position until 1970 when, as vice president of merchandising, he contributed his many talents to the successful opening and operation of Walt Disney World.
Jack Olsen retired from Walt Disney World in 1977. He passed away in April 1980.