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Just How Big IS Walt Disney World?

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The use of the word “world” in Walt Disney World Resort did not come about accidentally, nor can it be counted as some sort of elaborate embellishment. In fact, Disney World is so massively huge compared to all the other Disney Park and Resort locations worldwide that it truly is a world unto itself for all intents and purposes. But how big is the overall area comprising Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, really? When you tally up the totals for all the land accounting for the more than 20-some Disney Resort accommodations, theme park designations, Disney Springs area, and other acreages (both public and private), the final numbers may surprise you indeed. Here’s an overview analysis of the land that makes up Walt Disney World.

Main Welcome Sign When Entering Disney World Premises

Credit: Disney

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The Overall Area 

The grand total for the expansive area encompassing Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, falls just shy of 30,000 acres (at 27,52 acres, to be exact), or 47 square miles really. By contrast, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, accounts for only 510 acres. So, where Disney World is comparable in size to the city of San Francisco, Disneyland could fit easily into Disney World’s largest Park—Disney’s Animal Kingdom with room to spare. However, both final totals were lower at one time, as each location has since grown considerably.

While anyone can easily look at Walt Disney World Resort and be impressed by its gargantuan size, the actual numbers, when presented on paper, can be surprising when put into perspective. That’s because only about 7,100 acres of Disney World land has yet to be developed. These developments include four major theme parks, two water parks, 20+ Disney Resorts, 12 additional on-premises accommodations not owned by Disney, Disney Springs, and other known Disney-associated areas, including four professional golf courses. With all that plus so much more ground area to spare, ongoing expansions are definitely in the foreseeable future.

Disney World Map Overview

Credit: Orlando Escape

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Why Is It So Much Bigger?

To fully understand and appreciate why Disney World is such an incredibly massive marvel requires first delving into a little Disney background history and the reasoning behind such meticulous methods put in place by Walt Disney himself. In hindsight, one of Disney’s regrets after building Disneyland Park was that he did not buy up enough of the surrounding land. As a result, other businesses eventually moved into the vicinity. Disneyland was surrounded by many obscuring outside shops, hotels, dining establishments, and other detractions to the magical image Walt Disney was trying to encompass. That’s what influenced him to think bigger and better where his next project was concerned—the establishment of Walt Disney World. He knew keeping all the surroundings well within his control was key to carrying out his magical vision both metaphorically and literally.

Aerial View of Old Disneyland

Credit: ABC

At first, it was all a great secret. Walt Disney had done a lot of scouting around, searching for a location close enough to a major city with good weather year-round, and tons of affordable land. Orlando, Florida, was perfect!

Walt Disney Surveying Florida Land

Credit: D23

To avoid drawing unnecessary attention and as not to let on to the fact that the Walt Disney Company was behind a massive land purchase in Orlando, Florida, Walt Disney assumed many made-up corporate aliases. He then proceeded to buy up various land tracts ranging in swamp land, scrub forests, and what many would easily discard as worthless terrain. The developments and all the foundational background work needed to make the land usable and the dream doable would be nothing short of a fairytale endeavor. But we all know that Disney has always been in the business of making dreams come true. The first business matter would be establishing a Magic Kingdom and two onsite hotels.

Map Showing Land That Disney Purchased

Credit: D23

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Magic Kingdom Park

Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park sits on a surrounding total land tract that is closer to 142 acres. However, only a little over 100 of those acres have yet to be developed for public use, mainly in the way of Park attractions, shops, and dining. Other areas in Magic Kingdom comprise off-limits locations that only Cast Members may access, including the seldom-seen underground Utilidor System, as Magic Kingdom Park was really actually constructed on the second story of the Park’s two-story setup. Cinderella Castle stands regally at 189 feet high, although it seems a lot higher through forced perspective. In fact, the zenith part of Big Thunder Mountain is actually taller at 197 feet.

Six different lands grace the developed areas of Magic Kingdom Park. These include Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, Frontierland (including Tom Sawyer’s Island), Adventureland, and Main Street, U.S.A.

Aerial View of Magic Kingdom

Credit: bioconstruct

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EPCOT 

Disney World’s second Park, EPCOT, is considerably larger than the Magic Kingdom, with a total land area of 305 acres. Only about 200 of those acres, though, are accessible public terrain. Like Magic Kingdom, EPCOT does feature some Utilidors, although on a much smaller scale. There is also the massive World Showcase Lagoon dissecting a large portion of the Park and the iconic EPCOT geosphere, which stands 180 feet tall and houses the Spaceship Earth attraction.

There are four different “neighborhoods” making up EPCOT. These include World Nature, World Discovery, and World Celebration in the frontmost section of the Park, and the World Showcase on the other side of its namesake lagoon. The latter showcases 11 national pavilions of great acclaim, laden with various attractions, unique shopping, and dining designations serving authentic regional classics.

An Aerial View of EPCOT

Credit: Jonathan Michael Salazar

Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios, formerly Disney-MGM, boasts a total of 154 acres. However, as is the case with other Parks, significantly less of that area actually accounts for public access sites, like attractions, shopping, and dining venues. As the recent expansions over the years have demonstrated firsthand, plenty of areas remain to grow this Park even further.

Hollywood Studios is divided up into seven different themed sections. These include Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Animation Courtyard, Grand Avenue, Echo Lake, Toy Story Land, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The highest point in the Park is the topmost part of the thrilling Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction, which stands 199 feet high.

An Aerial Overlook View of Hollywood Studios

Credit: Jonathan Michael Salazar

Animal Kingdom

Not only is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park the largest Park in all of Walt Disney World Resort, but it is the largest Disney Park worldwide. Comprising a grand total of 580 acres, even with only about 300 acres available to the public, it is massive compared to all others. The Park’s anchoring attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris, spans 110 acres. That makes it even larger than all of developed Magic Kingdom Park.

The Animal Kingdom is divided into seven distinct areas: Discovery Island, The Oasis, DinoLand U.S.A., Asia, Africa, Pandora—The World of Avatar, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The tallest point in the Park is the uppermost zenith of the Expedition Everest roller coaster, which tops even the Tower of Terror in height, tapering off at 199.5 feet.

An Aerial Shot of Expedition Everest

Credit: Jonathan Michael Salazar

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Water Parks

In addition to the four major theme parks, Disney World is home to two exciting water parks. They are Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Both locations deliver refreshing, riparian adventures and boast an array of aquatic attractions that keep to the ongoing motif each one presents. As you’d expect by the names, Typhoon Lagoon is more tropical-based, whereas Blizzard Beach follows the storyline of serving as the melted remains of a one-time ski resort. Both locations are impressive and have so much to offer. Comparable, for the most part in size, Typhoon Lagoon encompasses 61 acres, whereas Blizzard Beach boasts 66.

Disney's Two Water Parks

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Disney Springs

Disney World’s on-location mega shopping and dining complex, Disney Springs, comprises 120 acres and more than 150 venues. These range in shopping and dining locations as well as entertainment stage areas and places to stroll about and enjoy the surroundings. Four distinct areas divide the area: The Landing, Marketplace, West Side, and Town Center. The bodies of water surrounding Disney Springs also account for the total area acreage.

An Aerial View of Disney Springs

Credit: Jonathan Michael Salazar

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Other Land

After making his multitude of grand land purchases, and before doing anything else, Walt Disney immediately designated 7,500 acres to serve as a conservation area. By leaving this land untouched, undisturbed, and establishing that nothing would ever be built on it, the area would serve as a protective, ecological buffer to preserve the surrounding cypress trees and provide habitual needs to Florida’s natural animal residents.

The Land Comprising Disney World

Credit: D23

Disney Imagineering also created an elaborate system of canals and levees, spanning more than 55 miles. This was done to help control surrounding water levels in what was previously untamed marshland. Imagineer John Hench is credited with designing this intricate network of waterways to blend in with the natural landscape both visually and systematically. In fact, the mechanism that controls the water levels is all automated, requiring minimal maintenance and almost no regular monitoring.

Developed Disney World Water Ways

Credit: Disney

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Again, there is still so much Disney World land that has yet to be developed. That leaves so many opportunities open, not only for the brand-new attractions guaranteed to come about one day, but also for all the new Resorts, and Park expansions we can only dream about. Maybe even a new Park or several will be added to the mix someday.

Walt Disney acknowledged that work would never be completed and that the magical dream would forever be a work in progress. What he said of Disney World and its vast opportunities was that there is “enough land to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.” And time has shown us that sentiment continues to ring true.

About Laura

Laura Catherine aka “LC” is a writer who resides in Maryland with her family and several pets. She visits Walt Disney World whenever she can. Additionally, she is a published author of three novels, a children’s book, and has a passion for gardening.