Walt Disney World is not only the most popular theme park in the world but it’s also the most iconic. Millions of people travel to Florida each year to experience what has been come to known as the magic of “mouse house.” Millions of those visitors grow into lifelong Disney World fans and like most fans, they love to learn secrets and interesting facts about Disney World. Due to the fact that Walt Disney World is a first of it’s kind type of tourist attraction, there is a lot of curiosity about Disney World and many things that most people never knew about.
As Disney World geeks ourselves, we have know about most of the secretsa and facts about the most magical place on earth, so we have narrowed down that information into 10 of the most interesting facts about Walt Disney World, including the resorts, parks, transportation, and more.
A Lot of Land
One of the most surprising facts about Disney World is it’s sheer size in terms of land mass is truly quite an impressive thing. In fact, the whole property covers about 43 square miles, which is roughly the size of the city of San Francisco! To think of it another way, you could fit 160 Disneylands into Walt Disney World! Keep in mind that most of that land is undeveloped, but this land mass allows Disney World the luxury of having many options for building future parks, hotels and more.
“Walt” added to the Name
When Walt Disney unexpectedly passed away in 1966, he was not able to see the finished product of Disney World and more specifically the Magic Kingdom, as it was still in the process of being constructed when he passed away. Walt’s brother, Roy Disney, took over Disney corporation and the Disney World project and saw it through to completion. As a kind of Memoriam to his late brother, Roy declared that the resort in which the Magic Kingdom resided would be named “Walt Disney World” instead of simply “Disneyworld,” as was previously decided.
Speaking of land, Walt Disney was very smart in how he went about purchasing the land in Florida that would eventually be Walt Disney World. At the time, in the 1960s, the area near Orlando that he was interested in was mostly swampland, but also close enough to a major city for his vision of the ultimate theme park. Walt knew that his name attached to the sale of the land would hike up the price, no doubt. So to hide his identity from potential sellers of the land, dummy corporations were set up under fake names to purchase the land indiscriminately. These names included “M.T. Lott” and “Reedy Creek Ranch Corporation.” Each of the corporations bought thousands of acres of land starting at $80 per acre. The secret eventually got out that it was in fact, Disney buying up all this land and the price for the remaining acreage he wanted to build Disney World, shot up to over a 1000 times the original price!
(Not So) Secret Tunnel
One thing that bugged Walt Disney about Disneyland was that you could see cast members taking breaks, exiting the park, taking out the trash and more. He felt this ruined the magic that he was trying to create for guests in his park. So in order to keep all the behind-the-scenes activities under wraps at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, they created man-made tunnels called “utilidors” that were built under the park. These tunnels are used by cast members for many reasons, such as exiting from the park, arriving to work, taking character breaks, and other employee functions. Many have described the underground area of the Magic Kingdom as an underground city of sorts even.
Dead People Everywhere
It’s a popular request for a loved one ask to have their ashes spread in Walt Disney World after they die, according to cast members. Although this is not allowed in the parks, it still happens all of the time, and cast members have to clean it up. Seems silly to spread ashes just so that someone will just vacuum it up right afterward!
Walt Disney World is constantly changing. New attractions, restaurants, and hotels are added, and old, rundown, or unpopular ones are taken away. Except, sometimes they are just closed, not replaced with anything new, and left to rot. This is evident by the remains left of Disney’s first water park, River Country. After officially closing over a decade ago, it still stands in a state of decay near the Fort Wilderness campgrounds. If you are curious, you can visit the site and see the area that is boarded up and fenced off – some of the water slides still remain in tact even. Other abandoned Disney places include Discovery Island, pavillions in EPCOT, and Pop Century Golden Years buildings (these later became hotel rooms used for Art of Animation). If you are curious about these abandoned areas of Disney World there are many videos on YouTube that explore these areas.
Hotel Construction of the Future
Disney’s Polynesian Village and Disney’s Contemporary Resort have the honor of being the first two hotels built for Walt Disney World in 1971. As a new construction technique, the plan was to build each hotel room offsite, then “slide” the rooms into the hotel building. Disney thought this would be an easier way to do things like complete renovations, perform repairs, and add updates to the rooms without disturbing guests with noisy construction. It was a nice idea, but it ultimately failed. After a few years of the hotels being built, two major problems arose: the buildings began to settle and the rooms were unable to be removed from the site, and the rooms that could be removed had a growing mold problem in the spaces between the room and the outer shell. So the process was scrapped and the changes made to the rooms function like all of the other hotels on Disney property.
Main Street, USA in the Magic Kingdom is loosely based on Walt Disney’s childhood hometown of Marceline, MO. It is also has some inspiration from Harper Goff’s hometwon of Fort Collins, Colorado due to Walt loving many of the features of the small town. Due to it’s popularity Marceline, MO has a Walt Disney-themed museum and small homages to Walt in the square and in the elementary school in which he attended.
A Mountain and a Movie
The popular water log ride in Magic Kingdom called Splash Mountain features Brer Rabbit going through a special journey, getting into trouble, and finding his way again. But did you know that Brer Rabbit and his friends were pulled from a movie called “Song of the South?” Even if you did, you have probably never seen the movie, as Disney has been proactive in making sure it have is never released via DVD or video. The movie over time has been deemed racist, insensitive, and politically incorrect which is the main reason for this.
Are you a fan of Aerosmith and Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? If you are, then it’s always a good idea to be at this ride on or around March 26th. That’s because Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith, likes to visit the park and ride the coaster on his birthday every year. You might even get to give him a high five if you are standing in line and he walks by. There is also a chance on any day at Disney World that you could run into many celebrities as it is a hot spot for celebriteis and their families, just like anybody else.
Be sure to check out our other articles about Disney and our line of Disney World inspired apparel that will let everyone know about your love of the most magical place on Earth!
By Jamie Lee
Jamie is a lifelong Disney fanatic that has been going to Disney parks since she was a child. She is the head writer here at Capture The Magic & co-host of the Capture The Magic Podcast. When she isn't planning her next Disney vacation, she can be found helping people plan their own Disney vacations and enjoying quality time with her family.