10. Every Role is in Guest Services
Each Disney cast member works in guest services in one way or another. While you may think of “guest services” as the people with the plaid vests in the front of the park, every cast member’s encompasses guest services as well. Take custodial cast members for instance. While their role does require certain tasks, such as sweeping main street and empting trash cans, guest service is a huge part of their role as well. If you look closely at a custodial cast member’s costume, you’ll notice that there’s a patch that actually reads, “custodial guest services.” This is because custodial is often the first point of contact for guests who need information. If you’re walking through the park, custodial cast members are most likely out and about, and you’ll probably end up speaking to them rather than finding someone else. While you may not think of certain roles as “guest services,” this instance is a prime example of how important working in guest services really is for each cast member at Walt Disney World.
There is an 8,500 acre wildlife conservation area located on Walt Disney World’s property. In addition, Disney also hosts the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, which allows guests to contribute (in Animal Kingdom, resorts, and the Land and the Seas pavilions in Epcot) to save animals all over the world. The conservation fund is an excellent way to encourage guests to conserve the environment, because Disney matches every donation and covers all overhead costs.
8. Presidential Seal
Have you noticed the presidential seal on the carpet in the lobby before you enter the Hall of Presidents show at the Magic Kingdom? The Hall of Presidents is actually the only place besides the Oval Office in the White House where the presidential seal is displayed, and Disney did have to receive permission from Congress to replicate it in the attraction.
7. Constant Expansion
Perhaps you went to Disney World once as a child and found it to be completely different (and probably much larger) when you came back as an adult. The Disney parks are constantly changing and expanding to continually meet the satisfaction of guests that may change with time. When Walt Disney World first opened with the Magic Kingdom in 1971, there were about 10,000 guests in the park. To give you some context for how much the park has been expanded, 10,000 guests in the park today would feel extremely empty.
6. Attention to Detail
Disney pays close attention to detail in a way that is seen very little in other locations in the theme park industry. No matter where you go at Walt Disney World, you are transported to an entirely different world, and you are able to become part of the story, all because of the attention to detail that goes into designing the Disney parks.
5. Remembering the Past
Walt Disney World has done a pretty good job of remembering attractions that have come and gone. Take a spin on Journey into Imagination with Figment in Epcot, and in the final scene you might notice a familiar drawing from the original ride (check the sheet music as your vehicle moves towards the exit.) On the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, you might find some references to the attractions that were formerly in this area, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and my favorite, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
When Walt Disney decided that he wanted to open a theme park, one of the major issues he wanted to avoid that was prevalent in the amusement park industry was the lack of cleanliness. Walt would take his daughters to other small amusement parks, and constantly note how his park would stick to a high standard of cleanliness. And Disney has some impressive, and otherwise little thought of ways to achieve this goal. You might notice lots of garbage cans in Disney—this is to discourage littering. Research was done to see the average amount of time that a person will hold on to trash before throwing it on the ground. The results of this research meant that trash cans would be placed every fifteen feet in Walt Disney World. You’ll also notice that the parks and resorts do not sell gum. This is simply to avoid gum being stuck on the ground, tables, railings, or anywhere else it doesn’t belong.
3. 70,000 Cast Members
Walt Disney World employs more than 70,000 cast members. That’s right, cast members—not employees. Because every element of Walt Disney World must add to the show, people who work in the park are not referred to as workers or employees, but rather as cast members. Disney cast members don’t even wear “uniforms” to work—they wear costumes! At about 70,000 total cast members, Walt Disney World is also the largest single site employer in the United States.
2. The First Floor of the Magic Kingdom
When you visit the Magic Kingdom, you’re actually on the second floor. After Walt Disney witnessed cast members in costumes specific to their “land” in Disneyland going through other lands in the park to get backstage, he devised a way of designing the Magic Kingdom so that this problem would be alleviated altogether. Today in the Magic Kingdom, cast members go backstage in their own locations and enter a tunnel called the Utilidor which brings them to wherever they need to go without guests having to see their costumes clash with other part of the park. The Utilidor also houses a number of cast member offices and other things necessary to keep the park up and running such as entertainment costuming, merchandise/food storage rooms, and more.
1. 44 Square Miles
The Walt Disney World Resort has a total area of forty-four square miles—twice the size of the island of Manhattan to put that into perspective. The size of the resort is the most impressive fact because it is amazing to think of what really goes into running an attraction of that scale. Consider all the resorts, transportation fleets, highways, the parks themselves, Disney Springs, the water parks, miniature golf, kennels, and all of the backstage and cast member buildings that you can’t even see on your trip to Disney. It’s incredible to imagine the scale of such a large vacation destination, and the kind of precise organization that makes this run smoothly despite the land area size.