For diehard fans of Walt Disney World, the experience of being in the parks never grows old. Rather than becoming desensitized to the sights and sounds that make Disney magic palpable, fans of the Most Magical Place on Earth keep coming back for more. But it’s not just the excitement of the rides, attractions and experiences that draws Guests in. Devout Disney fans are also brought back again and again by their love for the many amazing and impressive things they know about the parks that clearly set this vacation destination apart from all others. Are you familiar with these 10 impressive and intriguing facts about Disney’s central Florida park?
10. So far, the magic takes place within an area the size of San Francisco.
The Walt Disney World Resort encompasses some 47 square miles. More than half of the land owned by Disney has yet to be developed, but there’s—as Walt once said—“enough land to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.” He called it “the blessing of size,” something Disneyland has never had because of that park’s mostly landlocked location. Disney World is the size of the city of San Francisco. What’s more—it’s TWICE the size of the island of Manhattan. So far, the largest park of all is Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Guests and animals share the space of more than 570 acres.
9. Guests roam Magic Kingdom for hundreds of millions of hours each year.
Let’s clarify. Before the parks were forced to implement new policies and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Disney World’s oldest park—Magic Kingdom—averaged around 21 million visitors annually. On average, those 21 million people spent about 12 hours a day in Magic Kingdom, yielding an average of 252,000,000 visiting hours at Disney World’s nearly 50-years-old park.
8. It’s true: Magic Kingdom is almost 50 years old!
Can you believe it? Disney World’s oldest park will celebrate its 50th anniversary on October 1, 2021. When the park first opened to adoring Disney fans in October of 1971, a general admission ticket cost $3.50 per person. If you figure in inflation, that would be equivalent to a ticket price of $21 per person today. However, Disney won’t be restricted by normal inflation rates, and today, the price for your one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom is not only determined by the date you’re visiting, but it can also run you over $150 a day if you’re visiting during the busiest seasons of the year.
7. The opening of Disney World was Life magazine’s main focus.
When the “Florida Project” first opened as Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971, all eyes were on Central Florida. The country had waited with great anticipation for the new Disney park to open, and on October 15, 1971, Life magazine hit newsstands with its now-collectors’ edition of the periodical. The front cover was completely dedicated to Disney’s new park, with the title “Disney World Opens” in big bold letters.
6. Disney World favors an open-door policy.
Before 2020, Disney World had only ever closed its gates a handful of times—in September of 1999 because of Hurricane Floyd, 2 days in September 2004 because of Hurricane Frances, September 26, 2004 because of Hurricane Jeanne, October 7, 2016 because of Hurricane Matthew and October 10 and 11 because of Hurricane Irma. The parks were forced to close in March of 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak and wasn’t able to welcome Guests back until mid-July.
5. When it comes to new construction and Guest experiences, Disney spares no expense.
Between November 16, 1965 when plans for Disney’s new Florida park and October 1, 1971 when it first opened, Disney spent $400,000,000 constructing Magic Kingdom. By contrast, in the late 1990s, Disney World spent $300,000,000 to build a singular attraction at Epcot—Test Track—known for being the fastest ride at the resort. And speaking of Epcot, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, the long-running nighttime spectacular that came to a close at the park in 2019, cost Mickey and friends a whopping $25,000 per evening performance. No cutting corners here!
4. The Walt Disney Company is a big player in the state of Florida.
And we’re not just talking revenue from Disney World. Disney has long been one of the biggest employers in the Sunshine State. In 1971 when Disney World opened, 5,500 Cast Members were on the payroll. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, closer to 75,000 Cast Members made up Disney World’s workforce. The pandemic has caused layoffs and furloughs that have affected thousands of beloved Cast Members, and we can’t wait to see them all back as soon as possible!
3. Have a Coke and a smile—lots of them!
It stays sunny and relatively warm throughout the majority of the year at Disney World, so it’s no wonder a lot of Guests get thirsty! Very thirsty, in fact! In a normal year at the parks, Cast Members sell/serve more than 75,000,000 Cokes!
2. Some of the urban legends about Disney World are as crazy as they sound. Others are, well, true.
You’ve probably heard your fair share of myths and urban legends that surround the Disney World experience. Although they are not fabricated by the Disney company, some of them seem to have stood the test of time—and even grown with time! You can probably think of some you’ve heard over the years, and while it’s NOT TRUE that Walt is buried somewhere beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney World or Disneyland, it IS TRUE that Guests often think of the Haunted Mansion attraction as the perfect final resting place for loved ones who really enjoyed the attraction and were cremated after their passing. Many are surprised to learn that Disney doesn’t allow the spreading of ashes anywhere on its property.
1. Galaxy’s Edge’s numbers are some of the most impressive of all.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at Walt Disney World in 2019 to a multitude of thrilled Guests—many who were already Star Wars fans and some who would become fans because of the new park. Galaxy’s Edge encompasses 14 acres, 3 acres more than Toy Story Land, and it cost Disney a cool $1 billion to build. It also created 5,500 construction jobs in central Florida and 1,700 new Cast Member jobs in the forms of new janitors, attraction attendants and operators, food service Cast Members and other roles.