Walt Disney World
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2010)|
|Industry||Amusement parks and resorts|
|Founded||October 1, 1971|
|Headquarters||Lake Buena Vista, Florida, U.S.|
|Key people||George Kalogridis (President)|
|Owner(s)||Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
(The Walt Disney Company)
|Walt Disney World|
The Walt Disney World Resort, also known as Walt Disney World or simply Disney World, is an entertainment complex that opened on October 1, 1971 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and is the most-visited such complex in the world. It is owned by The Walt Disney Company through its division Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The property covers 30,080 acres (12,173 ha; 47 sq mi), in which it houses twenty-four themed resorts, four theme parks, two water parks, and several additional recreational and entertainment venues. The Magic Kingdom is the original theme park on the complex, though the property opened Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Designed to supplement Disneyland in Anaheim, California which had opened in 1955, Walt Disney developed the complex in the 1960s, though he died in 1966 before construction on "The Florida Project" began. After extensive lobbying, the Government of Florida created the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special government district that essentially gave The Walt Disney Company the standard powers and autonomy of an incorporated city. Original plans called for the inclusion of an "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow", a planned city that would serve as a test bed for new innovations for city living.
In 1959, Walt Disney Productions began looking for land for a second park to supplement Disneyland, which opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955. Market surveys revealed that only 5% of Disneyland's visitors came from east of the Mississippi River, where 75% of the population of the United States lived. Additionally, Walt Disney disliked the businesses that had sprung up around Disneyland and wanted control of a much larger area of land for the new project.
Walt Disney flew over the Orlando-area site (one of many) in November 1963. Seeing the well-developed network of roads, including the planned Interstate 4 and Florida's Turnpike, with McCoy Air Force Base (later Orlando International Airport) to the east, Disney selected a centrally-located site near Bay Lake.
To avoid a burst of land speculation, Disney used various dummy corporations to acquire 27,443 acres (11,106 ha) of land. In May 1965, some of these major land transactions were recorded a few miles southwest of Orlando in Osceola County. Also, two large tracts totaling $1.5 million were sold, and smaller tracts of flatlands and cattle pastures were purchased by exotic-sounding companies such as the Latin-American Development and Management Corporation and the Reedy Creek Ranch Corporation (Some of these names are now memorialized on a window above Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom). In addition to three huge parcels of land were many smaller parcels, referred to as "outs."
Much of the land acquired had been platted into 5-acre (2 ha) lots in 1912 by the Munger Land Company and sold to investors. Most owners were happy to get rid of the land, which was mostly swamp. Another issue was the mineral rights to the land, which were owned by Tufts University. Without the transfer of these rights, Tufts could come in at any time and demand the removal of buildings to obtain minerals. Eventually, Disney's team negotiated a deal with Tufts to buy the mineral rights for $15,000.
After most of the land had been bought, the truth of the property's owner was leaked to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper on October 20, 1965. A press conference was soon organized for November 15, when Walt Disney explained the plans for the site, including EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, which was to be a futuristic planned city (and which was also known as Progress City). He envisioned a real working city with commercial and residential areas that also continued to showcase and test new ideas and concepts for urban living.
Walt Disney died from lung cancer on December 15, 1966, before his vision was realized. His brother and business partner, Roy O. Disney, postponed his retirement to oversee construction of the resort's first phase.
On February 2, 1967, Roy O. Disney held a press conference at the Park Theatres in Winter Park, Florida. The role of EPCOT was emphasized in the film that was played, the last one recorded by Walt Disney before his death. After the film, it was explained that for Disney World, including EPCOT, to succeed, a special district would have to be formed: the Reedy Creek Improvement District with two cities inside it, Bay Lake and Reedy Creek (now Lake Buena Vista). In addition to the standard powers of an incorporated city, which include the issuance of tax-free bonds, the district would have immunity from any current or future county or state land-use laws. The only areas where the district had to submit to the county and state would be property taxes and elevator inspections.
The legislation forming the district and the two cities was signed into law by Florida Governor Claude R. Kirk, Jr. on May 12, 1967. The Florida Supreme Court then ruled in 1968 that the district was allowed to issue tax-exempt bonds for public projects within the district despite the sole beneficiary being Walt Disney Productions.
The district soon began construction of drainage canals, and Disney built the first roads and the Magic Kingdom. The Contemporary Resort Hotel, the Polynesian Village, and Fort Wilderness were also completed in time for the park's opening on October 1, 1971. The Palm and Magnolia golf courses near the Magic Kingdom had opened a few weeks before. At the park's opening, Roy O. Disney dedicated the property and declared that it would be known as "Walt Disney World" in his brother's honor. In his own words: "Everyone has heard of Ford cars. But have they all heard of Henry Ford, who started it all? 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." After the dedication, Roy Disney asked Walt's widow, Lillian, what she thought of Walt Disney World. According to biographer Bob Thomas, she responded, "I think Walt would have approved." Roy O. Disney died on December 20, 1971, less than three months after the property opened.
Much of Walt Disney's plans for his Progress City were abandoned after his death, after the company board decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a city. The concept evolved into the resort's second theme park, EPCOT Center (renamed Epcot in 1996), which opened in 1982. While still emulating Walt Disney's original idea of showcasing new technology, it is closer to a world's fair than a "community of tomorrow". Some of the urban planning concepts from the original idea of EPCOT would instead be integrated into the community of Celebration much later. The resort's third theme park, Disney-MGM Studios (renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2008), opened in 1989, and is inspired by show business. The resort's fourth theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, opened in 1998.
George Kalogridis was named president of the resort in December 2012, replacing Meg Crofton, who had overseen the site since 2006.
Despite marketing claims and popular misconceptions, the Florida resort is not within Orlando city limits, but is actually about 21 miles (34 km) southwest of downtown Orlando, much of it in southwestern Orange County, with the remainder in adjacent Osceola County. The property includes the cities of Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake which are governed by the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The 25,000 acres (10,117 ha; 39 sq mi) site is accessible from Central Florida's Interstate 4 via Exits 62B (World Drive), 64B (US 192 West), 65B (Osceola Parkway West), 67B (SR 536 West), and 68 (SR 535 North), and Exit 8 on State Road 429 (Florida), the Western Expressway. At its peak, the resort occupied approximately 30,000 acres (12,141 ha; 47 sq mi), about the size of San Francisco, or twice the size of Manhattan. Portions of the property since have been sold or de-annexed, including land now occupied by the Disney-built community of Celebration.
- Magic Kingdom, opened October 1, 1971
- Epcot, opened October 1, 1982
- Disney's Hollywood Studios, opened May 1, 1989
- Disney's Animal Kingdom, opened April 22, 1998
- Downtown Disney, opened March 22, 1975
- Disney's BoardWalk, opened July 1, 1996
- Disney's Wedding Pavilion, opened July 15, 1995
- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, opened March 28, 1997
- Walt Disney World Speedway, opened November 28, 1995
- Richard Petty Driving Experience, opened November 28, 1995
Golf and recreation
Disney's property includes five golf courses. The four 18-hole golf courses are the Palm (4½ Stars), the Magnolia (4 Stars), Lake Buena Vista (4 Stars) and Osprey Ridge (4½ Stars). There is also a nine-hole walking course (no electric carts allowed) called Oak Trail, designed for young golfers. The Magnolia and Palm courses play home to the PGA Tour's Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Arnold Palmer Golf Management manages the Disney golf courses. Additionally, there are two themed miniature golf complexes, each with two courses, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland.
Catch-and-release fishing excursions are offered daily on the resort's lakes. A Florida fishing license is not required because it occurs on private property. Cane-pole fishing is offered from the docks at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Disney's Port Orleans Resort.
Additional recreational activities include watercraft rentals, surrey bike rentals, and firework cruises that launch from several resort marinas.
- Disney's River Country: The first water park at the Walt Disney World Resort. It opened on June 20, 1976 and closed on November 1, 2001.
- Discovery Island: An island in Bay Lake which was home to many species of animals and birds. It opened on April 8, 1974 and closed on April 8, 1999.
Of the thirty-three resorts and hotels on the Walt Disney World property, twenty-four are owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. These are classified into five categories: Deluxe, Moderate, Value, Disney Vacation Club Villas, and Cabins and Campgrounds, and are located in one of five resort areas: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or Downtown Disney resort areas.
On-site Disney resorts
|Name||Opening Date||Theme||Number of Rooms||Area|
|Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge||April 16, 2001||African Wildlife preserve||1,307||Animal Kingdom|
|Disney's Beach Club Resort||November 19, 1990||Newport Beach cottage||576||Epcot|
|Disney's BoardWalk Inn||July 1, 1996||Early 20th Century Atlantic and Ocean City||378|
|Disney's Contemporary Resort||October 1, 1971||Modern||655||Magic Kingdom|
|Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa||July 1, 1988||Victorian seaside resort||867|
|Disney's Polynesian Resort||October 1, 1971||South Seas||847|
|Disney's Wilderness Lodge||May 28, 1994||Pacific Northwest||729|
|Disney's Yacht Club Resort||November 5, 1990||Martha's Vineyard Resort||621||Epcot|
|Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort||October 1, 1988||Tropical Islands||2,112||Epcot|
|Disney's Coronado Springs Resort||August 1, 1997||American Southwest||1,915||Animal Kingdom|
|Disney's Port Orleans Resort French Quarter||May 17, 1991||New Orleans French Quarter||1,008||Downtown Disney|
|Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside||February 2, 1992||Antebellum South||2,048|
|Disney's All-Star Movies Resort||January 15, 1999||Disney films||1,920||Animal Kingdom|
|Disney's All-Star Music Resort||November 22, 1994||Music||1,604|
|Disney's All-Star Sports Resort||April 24, 1994||Sports||1,920|
|Disney's Art of Animation Resort||May 31, 2012||Disney films||1,120||ESPN Wide World of Sports|
|Disney's Pop Century Resort||December 14, 2003||20th century American pop culture||2,880|
|Cabins and campgrounds|
|Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground||November 19, 1971||Rustic Woods Camping||800 campsites
|Disney Vacation Club|
|Disney's Old Key West Resort||December 20, 1991||Early 20th Century Key West||761||Downtown Disney|
|Disney's BoardWalk Villas||July 1, 1996||Early 20th Century Atlantic City||583||Epcot Resort Area|
|The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge||June 1998||Pacific Northwest||136||Magic Kingdom|
|Disney's Beach Club Villas||July 1, 2002||Newport resort||282||Epcot|
|Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa||May 17, 2004||1880s Upstate New York resort||1,260||Downtown Disney|
|Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas||August 15, 2007||African safari lodge||458||Animal Kingdom|
|Bay Lake Tower||August 4, 2009||Modern||428||Magic Kingdom|
|Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort||Fall 2011||Varies||450 homes||Magic Kingdom|
On-site Non-Disney hotels
|Hotel Name||Opening Date||Theme||Number of Rooms||Owner||Area|
|Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel||November 21, 1972||None||325||Best Western||Downtown Disney|
|Doubletree Guest Suite Resort||March 15, 1987||229||Hilton Hotels Corporation|
|Wyndham Lake Buena Vista||October 15, 1972||626||Wyndham Hotels & Resorts|
|Hilton Walt Disney World||November 23, 1983||787||Hilton Hotels Corporation|
|Holiday Inn in the Walt Disney World Resort||February 8, 1973||323||InterContinental Hotels Group|
|Royal Plaza||October 1, 1972||394||N/A|
|Buena Vista Palace Resort & Spa||March 10, 1983||1,014||Blackstone Group|
|Shades of Green||February 1, 1994||Upscale Country Club||586||United States Department of Defense||Magic Kingdom|
|Walt Disney World Dolphin||June 1, 1990||Underwater||1,509||Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide||Epcot|
|Walt Disney World Swan||January 13, 1990||Underwater||756|
- The Golf Resort — Became The Disney Inn, and later became Shades of Green.
- Disney's Village Resort — Became the Villas at Disney Institute and then Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. The "Tree House" Villas were decommissioned for a time because they were not accessible to disabled guests. Until early 2008, they were used for International Program Cast Member housing. In February 2008, Disney submitted plans to the South Florida Water Management District to replace the 60 existing villas with 60 new villas. The Treehouse Villas opened during the summer of 2009.
- Celebration (A town designed and built by Disney, now managed by a resident run association.)
- Lake Buena Vista (Disney originally intended this area to become a complete community with multiple residences, shopping, and offices, but transformed the original homes into hotel lodging in the 1970s, which were demolished in the early 2000s to build Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa)
- Disney's Asian Resort
- Disney's Persian Resort
- Disney's Venetian Resort
- Disney's Mediterranean Resort
- Fort Wilderness Junction
Disney's Magical Express
Guests with a Disney Resort reservation arriving at Orlando International Airport can be transported to their resort from the airport using the complimentary Disney Magical Express service, and have their bags picked up and transported for them through a contract with BAGS Incorporate. Guests board custom motor coaches, watch a video about the Walt Disney World Resort, and their luggage is later delivered directly to their rooms.
- President, Walt Disney World Resort—George Kalogridis
- Senior Vice President of Operations and Next Generation Experiences, Walt Disney World Resort—Jim MacPhee
- Senior Vice President of Operations, Sales, and Alliance Development, Walt Disney World Resort—George Aguel
- Vice President, Magic Kingdom—Phil Holmes
- Vice President, Epcot—Erin Young
- Vice President, Disney's Hollywood Studios—Dan Cockerell
- Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom—Josh D'Amaro
- Vice President, Downtown Disney—Keith Bradford
- Vice President, Resort Operations—Kevin Myers
- Vice President, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney Water Parks—Ken Potrock
- Vice President, Transportation, Sports, and Golf—Jim Vendur
- Vice President, Global Relationship Marketing, Disney Destinations LLC—Greg Albrecht
- Vice President Engineering, Walt Disney World Resort—John Watkins
- Vice President, Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives—Dr. Jackie Ogden
- Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Walt Disney World Resort—Brian Besanceney
- Vice President, Community Relations and Minority Business Development, Walt Disney World Resort—Eugene Campbell
- Vice President Government Relations, Walt Disney World Resort—Bill Warren
Former executive management
- Former President, Walt Disney World Resort 1994–2006—Al Weiss
- Former Executive Vice President of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort 1994–2006—Lee Cockerell
- Former Senior Vice President of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort 2006–2009—Erin Wallace
- Former Senior Vice President of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort—Karl Holz
- Former EVP Marketing 1973–1996 Tom Elrod
- Former EVP Marketing 1996–2006 Linda Warren
- Former Vice President, Magic Kingdom 2000–2001—Erin Wallace
- Former Vice President, Magic Kingdom 1987–1994—Bill Sullivan
- Former Vice President, Epcot 2011—Rilous Carter
- Former Vice President, Epcot 2009–2011—Dan Cockrell
- Former Vice President, Epcot 2007–2009—Jim MacPhee
- Former Vice President, Epcot 2001–2007—Brad Rex
- Former Vice President, Epcot 1994–1996—Linda Warren
- Former Vice President, Epcot 1987–1990—Norm Doerges
- Former Vice President, Disney's Hollywood Studios—Michael O'Grattan
- Former Vice President, Disney-MGM-Studios—Bruce Laval
- Former Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom and Animal Programs—Dr. Beth Stevens
- Former Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom—Val Bunting
- Former Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom—Kevin Lasnsberry
- Former Vice President, Downtown Disney—Kevin Lasnsberry
- Former Vice President, Downtown Disney—Djuan Rivers
- Former Vice President, Downtown Disney—Karl Holz
The June 2011 AECOM Theme Park Attendance report for the year of 2010, included the following information:
- Magic Kingdom, 16.97 million visits (No. 1 worldwide)
- Epcot, 10.83 million visits (No. 5)
- Disney's Animal Kingdom, 9.67 million visits (No. 7)
- Disney's Hollywood Studios, 9.60 million visits (No. 8)
When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the site employed about 5,500 "cast members". Today it employs more than 66,000, spending more than $1.2 billion on payroll and $474 million on benefits each year. The largest single-site employer in the United States, Walt Disney World has more than 3,700 job classifications. The resort also sponsors and operates the Walt Disney World College Program, an internship program that offers American college students (CP's) the opportunity to live about 15 miles (24 km) off site in 4 Disney-owned apartment complexes and work at the resort, providing much of the theme park and resort "front line" cast members. There is also the Walt Disney World International College Program, an internship program that offers International college students (ICP's) from all over the world the same opportunity.
- More than 5,000 cast members are dedicated to maintenance and engineering, including 750 horticulturists and 600 painters.
- Disney spends more than $100 million every year on maintenance at the Magic Kingdom. In 2003, $6 million was spent on renovating its Crystal Palace restaurant. 90 percent of guests say that the upkeep and cleanliness of the Magic Kingdom are excellent or very good.
- The streets in the parks are steam cleaned every night.
- There are cast members permanently assigned to painting the antique carousel horses; they use genuine gold leaf.
- There is a tree farm on site so that when a mature tree needs to be replaced, a thirty-year-old tree will be available to replace it.
A fleet of Disney-operated buses on property, branded Disney Transport, is complimentary for guests. In 2007, Disney Transport started a guest services upgrade to the buses. SatellGPS systems controlling new public address systems on the buses give safety information, park tips and other general announcements, with music. They are not to be confused with the Disney Cruise Line and Disney's Magical Express buses, which are operated by Mears Transportation. The Walt Disney World Monorail System also provides transportation at Walt Disney World. They operate on three routes that interconnect at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), adjacent to the Magic Kingdom's parking lot. One line provides an express non-stop link from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom, while a second line provides a link from the TTC to Epcot. The third line links the TTC and the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian resorts. Disney Transport also operates a fleet of watercraft, ranging in size from water taxis up to the ferries that connect the Magic Kingdom to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
The major roads within the resort (World Drive, Osceola Parkway and Epcot Center Drive) have segments that are built as freeways with full grade-separated interchanges. World Drive enters Walt Disney World from U.S. Route 192 and heads north to the Magic Kingdom Resort Area. Osceola Parkway heads east from the Animal Kingdom Resort Area to Interstate 4. Epcot Center Drive is a freeway for most of its route, running east from World Drive, past the Epcot parking lot to Interstate 4. Buena Vista Drive is a major surface street, running east from the Animal Kingdom Resort Area to Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Epcot Resort Area, and Downtown Disney.
Name and logo
During the resort's early planning stages, Walt Disney referred to the project as Project X, The Florida Project, Disney World, and The Disney World. Early visual references used the same medieval font as Disneyland. Walt Disney was very involved in the site selection and project planning in the years before his death. The secretive names were chosen because of the high confidentiality of the project during the initial planning. After Walt Disney's death, Roy O. Disney added the name Walt to Disney World as a permanent tribute to his brother.
The original logo had an over-sized "D" with a Mickey Mouse-shaped globe containing latitude and longitude lines, with the property's name presented in a modern, sans-serif font. It was retired during its 25th anniversary celebration in 1996–97, but can still be found in many places, including the SpectroMagic title float, the front car of each monorail, manhole covers, survey markers, select merchandise items and flags flown at several sites across the property.
As part of a competition run by Disney for 2010, Walt Disney World has an unofficial twinning (sister city) with Swindon, England, since 2009. Rebecca Warren's submission to the competition granted Swindon to be the twin town of Walt Disney World, which is famous for its intersection with six roundabouts. Warren and the mayor of Swindon were invited to a "twinning" ceremony, where a plaque revealing the connection will be placed.
- Incidents at Walt Disney World Resort
- Walt Disney Travel Company, Incorporated
- Walt Disney World Casting Center
- Walt Disney World College Program
- Walt Disney World Company
- Walt Disney World Explorer
- Walt Disney World Hospitality and Recreation Corporation
- Walt Disney World International Program
- Fogleson, Richard E. (2003). Married to the Mouse. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-300-09828-0.
- Mannheim, Steve (2002). Walt Disney and the Quest for Community. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 68–70. ISBN 0-7546-1974-5.
- Koenig, David (2007). Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World. Irvine, CA: Bonaventure Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-0-9640605-2-4.
- Walt Disney World News[dead link] Press Release on Resort Landscape Facts (2008)
- August 24, 2011 (August 24, 2011). "Disney golf: Disney World to turn its golf courses over to Arnold Palmer - Orlando Sentinel". Articles.orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved April 22, 2013. Text "By Jason Garcia, Orlando Sentinel " ignored (help)
- "Grand Floridian Construction Project". Laughing Place.
- "Treehouse Villas To Be Replaced By New Treehouses At Walt Disney World". Netcot.com. 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- "Disney Profile". Hospitality Online. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
- "Walt Disney World to become twin town of Swindon". BBC News Online. December 7, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- Gammell, Caroline (2009-12-07). "Swindon twinned with Disney World". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- Dewayne Bevil (December 9, 2009). "Disney World taps "twin town"". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- Kellehe, Michael. "Images of the past: Historical Authenticity and Inauthenticity From Disney to Time Square".
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- Walt Disney World Resort
- Shades of Green (Hotel at the Walt Disney World Resort for service members and their families.)