Today Walt Disney World theme park includes:
• Magic Kingdom
• Disney's Hollywood Studios
• Disney's Animal Kingdom
along with other attractions including
• Blizzard Beach
• Typhoon Lagoon
• Disney's Boardwalk
• ESPN Wide World of Sports
• Walt Disney World Speedway
• Downtown Disney.
The Planning of Walt Disney World, Florida
Following the success of Disneyland, California which opened in 1955, Walt Disney envisaged an even more ambitious theme park to serve the eastern states which would include hotels, golf courses and a host of entertainment, sports and recreation. As part of his new plan, he wanted to build a new planned city which he called the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow". Do you recognize the acronym? That project eventually became EPCOT, but more of that later.
Initially Walt Disney looked at land in South Florida but eventually settled upon the area south of Orlando in Orange and Osceola counties. Knowing his interest in buying large tracts of land would skyrocket the low land prices, he arranged to buy the tracts of swamp land under various other business names during 1965. In all Disney bought 30,000 acres or 47 square miles of land, an area more than twice the size of Manhattan, although some areas have since been sold off.
Due to his powerful position in bringing revenue and jobs to the area, Walt Disney shrewdly negotiated some unique terms for the area. He created a special district, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which has the usual powers of an unincorporated city, such as being able to issue tax-free bonds to raise capital. However, the area was legally deeded to be immune from any current or future county or state land-use laws. The only concessions Walt Disney made were to property taxes and elevator inspections.
Unfortunately just a few months after he made the announcement to build Disney World Florida, Walt Disney died of lung cancer. The project was continued by his brother and business partner, Roy Disney, who eventually named the resort in Walt's memory. In his opening speech Roy said, "Walt Disney World is in memory of the man who started it all, so people will know his name as long as Walt Disney World is here". Just two months later, Roy Disney also died and the outline for the planned city was put on hold.
Progress and Development of Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World with its Cinderella Castle opened in 1971 and was an overnight success. Epcot took on a new direction and eventually evolved into the "community of tomorrow" showcasing new technology. It opened in 1982. The planned town ideas were eventually used in the nearby city of Celebration, a charming town built by Disney around a lake and town square with beautiful homes and great restaurants. Celebration is definitely worth a visit if you are visiting Walt Disney World.
Hollywood Studios opened in 1989 and the fourth theme park, Animal Kingdom, was added in 1998.
By 2011, 40 years on, Walt Disney World has 33 resorts and hotels within its boundaries, plus four theme parks, five golf courses, two miniature golf courses, fishing lakes and a host of rides and attractions. It also operates Disney's Magical Express that shuttles guests from Orlando International Airport to the resort, giving both American and international guests a great hassle-free welcome to Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney World Statistics
In 2011 attendance at the theme parks was reported as a total of over 47 million visitors:
16.97 million visitors to the Magic Kingdom
10.83 million to Epcot
9.87 million to the Animal Kingdom and
9.6 million to Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World Orlando employs 66,000 "cast members" and is the single largest employer in the U.S. As well as being a massive local employer, the company also operates an internship known as the World College Program allowing students the chance to live in the area and work at the resort.
Employees at Walt Disney World include 3,650 maintenance workers, 750 gardeners and 600 painters. It spends $1.2 billion per year on payroll and more than $100 million on maintenance, keeping Orlando buzzing even in these tough economic times.
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Day Trips Around Orlando Florida