Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited and largest recreational resort in the world, containing four theme parks; two water parks; twenty-three themed hotels; and numerous shopping, dining, entertainment and recreation venues. Owned and operated by the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts segment of The Walt Disney Company, it is located southwest of Orlando, Florida. The property is often abbreviated Walt Disney World, Disney World or WDW.

It opened on October 1, 1971, with the Magic Kingdom theme park, and has since added Epcot (on October 1, 1982), Disney's Hollywood Studios (on May 1, 1989), and Disney's Animal Kingdom (on April 22, 1998).

History and development

In 1959, Walt Disney Productions, under the leadership of Walt Disney, began looking for land for a second park to supplement Disneyland, which had opened in Anaheim, California in 1955. Market surveys revealed that only 2% 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 site (one of many) on November 22, 1963, the day of the Kennedy assasination. He previously flew over, and appealed to, the Sanford, Florida city council to allow him to build Disney World in Sanford, but his appeal was declined. The citizens of Sanford did not want the crime that was sure to come with tourism. He saw 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, and immediately fell in love with the site.Шаблон:Fact When later asked why he chose it, he said, "the freeway routes, they bisect here."Шаблон:Fact Walt Disney focused most of his attention on the "Florida Project", both before and after his participation at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, but he died on December 15, 1966, five years before his vision was realized.

To avoid a burst of land speculation, Disney used various dummy corporations and cooperative individuals to acquire 27,400 acres (110 km², 43 mi²) of land. The first five-acre (20,000 m², 217400 ft²) lot was bought on October 23, 1964, by the Ayefour CorporationШаблон:Fact (a pun on Interstate 4). Others were also used with a second or secret meanings which add to the lore of the Florida Project, including M.T. Lott Real Estate Investments ("empty lot").

In May 1965, major land transactions were recorded a few miles southwest of Orlando in Osceola County. 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. In addition to three huge parcels of land were many smaller parcels, referred to as "outs."

Much of the land had been platted into five-acre (20,000 m², 217400 ft²) lots in 1912 by the Munger Land Company and sold to investors. In most cases, the owners were happy to get rid of the land, which was mostly swamp. Yet another problem was the mineral rights to the land, 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.

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 soon was organized for November 15. At the presentation, Walt Disney explained the plans for the site, including EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, which was to be a futuristic city (and which was also known as Progress City). Plans for EPCOT would drastically change after Disney's death. EPCOT became EPCOT Center, the resort's second theme park, which opened in 1982. Concepts from the original idea of EPCOT would be integrated into the community of Celebration much later.

The Reedy Creek Drainage District was incorporated on May 13, 1966 under Florida State Statutes Chapter 298, which gives powers including eminent domain to special Drainage Districts. To create the District, only the support of the landowners within was required.

Walt Disney died 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. The Disney Company worked with Robert Hart, a New York architect and founder of Hart Howerton, an architecture firm that specializes in large-scale land use, to develop the initial master plans for the park.Шаблон:Fact Hart had previously worked with John Carl Warnecke & Associates, which designed the John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.Шаблон:Fact

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 Walt Disney World to succeed, a special district would have to be formed: the Reedy Creek Improvement District with two cities inside it, the City of Bay Lake and the City of Reedy Creek (now the City of 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 on May 12, 1967. The Florida Supreme Court 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. Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground 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.

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, barely three months after the property opened.

Disney subsequently opened EPCOT Center in 1982, a theme park adapted from Walt Disney's vision for a "community of tomorrow". The park permanently adopted the name Epcot in 1996. In 1989, the resort added Disney-MGM Studios, a theme park inspired by show business, whose name was changed to Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2008. The resort's fourth theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, opened in 1998.

Meg Crofton was named president of the resort in August 2006, replacing Al Weiss, who had overseen the site since 1994.


Despite marketing claims and popular misconceptions, the Florida resort is not located within the Orlando city limits, but is in its own cities: Lake Buena Vista, and Bay Lake, just south of the city within southwestern Orange County, with the remainder in adjacent Osceola County. Most of the resort's land is located in the Orange County cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, about Шаблон:Convert southwest of Orlando. Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista are controlled by Disney through the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The Шаблон:Convert 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 Шаблон:Convert or 47 square miles (120 km²), 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.


Theme parks

Walt Disney World Resort features four theme parks. Each park is represented by an iconic structure:

  • Magic Kingdom - Cinderella Castle
  • Epcot - Spaceship Earth
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios - The Sorcerer's Hat
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom - The Tree of Life

Other attractions

  • Typhoon Lagoon
  • Blizzard Beach
  • Disney's Wedding Pavilion
  • Disney's BoardWalk
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Walt Disney World Speedway / Richard Petty Driving Experience
  • Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney consists of three sections, Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and West Side, that contain many shopping, dining, and entertainment venues. They include the DisneyQuest indoor arcade, a House of Blues restaurant and nightclub, a Planet Hollywood restaurant and a Cirque du Soleil theater and original production, La Nouba. Pleasure Island was closed in September of 2008.

The resort has a small aircraft runway located east of the Magic Kingdom parking lot. When the resort opened in 1971, Shawnee Airlines began regular passenger service from Orlando's McCoy Air Force Base (now Orlando International Airport) directly to Disney World's STOLport (Short Take Off and Landing) on a daily basis, with flights lasting only a few minutes. Today, the runway mostly is used as a staging area for buses and no longer is in service for aircraft.

Golf and recreation

Disney's property includes five golf courses. The four 18-hole golf courses are the Magnolia, the Palm, Lake Buena Vista and Osprey Ridge. There is also a nine-hole walking course called Oak Trail, designed for young golfers. 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.

Resorts and hotels

On-site Disney resorts

There are 32 resorts and hotels located on the Walt Disney World property. Of those, 23 are owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company. The Disney resorts are classified into five categories: Deluxe, Deluxe Villa, Moderate, Value, and Campground. The other hotels are owned by private, non-Disney hospitality companies such as Starwood (Westin and Sheraton), Holiday Inn, Best Western, and Hilton.

Guests arriving at Orlando International Airport can be transported to their Disney resort from the airport using Disney's Magical Express service, and have their bags picked up and transported for them through a contract with BAGS Incorporated. Guests board custom motor coaches, watch a video about the Walt Disney World Resort, and their luggage is later delivered directly to their rooms.

Value Resorts

  • Disney's Pop Century Resort
  • Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney's All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney's All-Star Sports Resort

Moderate Resorts

  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney's Port Orleans Resort French Quarter
  • Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside

Deluxe Resorts

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort
  • Disney's BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Cabins and Campgrounds

  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Deluxe Villas


  • Disney's Old Key West Resort
  • Disney's BoardWalk Villas
  • The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney's Beach Club Villas
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas

On-site non-Disney hotels

  • Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel
  • Doubletree Guest Suite Resort
  • Regal Sun Resort
  • Hilton, located in the Walt Disney World Resort
  • Holiday Inn in the Walt Disney World Resort
  • Royal Plaza
  • Shades of Green (owned and operated by the United States Department of Defense and used for vacationing active and retired military personnel, their families, and DOD civilians only)
  • Buena Vista Palace Resort & Spa
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin (owned and operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide)
  • Walt Disney World Swan (owned and operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide)

Future resorts on Disney property

  • Treehouse Villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa: 60 new single-family villas built in place of the original Treehouses, located near Downtown Disney and the Lake Buena Vista golf course, scheduled to open in the summer of 2009.
  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort: Permits were filed with the South Florida Water Management District in November 2006 for the construction of a 16-story tower containing approximately 300 Disney Vacation Club units. The property will open in the fall of 2009.
  • Four Seasons: On March 1], 2007] Disney announced plans to convert its Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge golf courses into a new Шаблон:Convert luxury resort that will include a Four Seasons hotel, an 18-hole championship golf course, plus single- and multi-family vacation homes and fractional ownership vacation homes. The hotel is estimated to open in 2010.

Never-built Disney resorts

  • Disney's Asian Resort
  • Disney's Persian Resort
  • Disney's Venetian Resort
  • Disney's Mediterranean Resort
  • Fort Wilderness Junction

Former Disney resorts

  • 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 permanently decommissioned 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.


  • President, Walt Disney World Resort - Meg Crofton
  • Senior Vice President of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort - Erin Wallace
  • Senior Vice President, Walt Disney World Resort - George Aguel
    • Vice President, Magic Kingdom - Phil Holmes
    • Vice President, Epcot - Dan Cockerell
    • Vice President, Disney's Hollywood Studios - Rilous Carter
    • Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Val Bunting
    • Vice President, Downtown Disney - Kevin Lansberry
    • Vice President, Disney Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney Water Parks - Reggie Williams
      • Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Walt Disney World Resort - Shannon McAleavey
      • Vice President, Community Relations and Minority Business Development, Walt Disney World Resort - Eugene Campbell
      • Vice President Government Relations, Walt Disney World Resort - Bill Warren
      • Vice President Engineering, Walt Disney World Ressort - Trevor Larsen
      • Vice President, Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives - Dr. Jackie Ogden
  • Former President, Walt Disney World Resort 1994-2006 - Al Weiss
  • Former Senior Vice President of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort - Lee Cockerell
  • Former Senior Vice President of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort - Karl Holz
    • Former Vice President, Magic Kingdom - Erin Wallace
    • Former Vice President, Epcot - Jim MacPhee
    • Former Vice President, Epcot - Brad Rex
    • Former Vice President, Disney's Hollywood Studios - Michael O'Grattan
    • Former Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Dr Beth Stevens
    • Former Vice President, Downtown Disney - Djuan Rivers
    • Former Vice President, Downtown Disney - Karl Holz


The May 2008 issue of trade magazine Park World reported the following attendance estimates for 2007 compiled by Economic Research Associates in partnership with TEA (formerly the Themed Entertainment Association):

  • Magic Kingdom, 17 million visits (No. 1 worldwide)
  • Epcot, 10.9 million visits (No. 6)
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios, 9.51 million visits (No. 7)
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom, 9.49 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 Resort has more than 3,700 job classifications.

The resort also sponsors and operates the Walt Disney World College Program, an internship program that has American college students live on site and work for 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 has college students from all over the world.


In a March 30, 2004, article in The Orlando Sentinel, then-Walt Disney World president Al Weiss gave some insight into how the parks are maintained:

  • 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% 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 available for guests at no charge. 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. Taxi boats link some locations.

The Walt Disney World Monorail System also provides transportation at Walt Disney World. A fleet of 12 monorail trains operates 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, whilst 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.

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 resort's original logo was an oversized "D" with a Mickey Mouse-shaped globe containing latitude and longitude lines, with the property's name presented in a modern, sans-serif font.

Walt Disney World Resort retired its original font and symbol during its 25th anniversary celebration in 1996-97. The old "D" symbol still can be found in many places, however, including the front car of each monorail, manhole covers, select merchandise items and flags flown at several sites across the property.

Development timeline

1965 Walt Disney announces Florida Project
1967 Construction begins
1971 Magic Kingdom
Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses
Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney's Polynesian Resort
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
1972 Disney's Village Resort
1973 Disney's Golf Resort
1974 Discovery Island
1975 Disney's Village Resort
Walt Disney Village Marketplace
1976 Disney's River Country
1980 Walt Disney World Conference Center
Disney's Village Resort - Club Lake Villas
1982 Epcot
1988 Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
1989 Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
Pleasure Island
1990 Disney's Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts
Walt Disney World Swan
Walt Disney World Dolphin
1991 Disney's Port Orleans Resort
Disney Vacation Club
1992 Disney's Dixie Landings Resort
Bonnet Creek Golf Club
1994 Disney's All-Star Sports Resort
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
1995 Disney's All-Star Music Resort
Disney's Blizzard Beach
Disney's Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion
Walt Disney World Speedway
1996 Disney Institute
Disney's BoardWalk Inn and BoardWalk Villas
1997 Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex
Downtown Disney West Side
1998 Disney's Animal Kingdom
1999 Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
2001 Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
2002 Disney's Beach Club Villas
2003 Disney's Pop Century Resort
2004 Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
2007 Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas

See also

  • Carolwood Pacific Railroad
  • Hidden Mickey
  • Incidents at Disney parks
  • 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
  • Walt Disney World Speedway

External links

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15 July 2012
Definitely the "Happiest Place on Earth"! Take 2 days to the Magic Kingdom. There is so much to see! Also get a copy of Birnnaum's Disney if it's your first trip. Tons of useful tips on what to do!!
Dave Mc
6 August 2018
Really the best of all the Disney locations, make sure you get the meal plan though, food is really expensive! ????
Aurora De Lucia
13 October 2013
Go in January for marathon weekend! A fun way to make your way through all the parks (plus ESPN's Wide World of Sports) in one morning.(If you're a Gatorade drinker, pack it! Disney uses Powerade.)
Jyotirmoy Banerjee
7 December 2012
It's a magical place! Be on main street after the electric light parade for the show projected on the castle, amazing! And stay for the fireworks, you won't be disappointed...Magical
15 September 2015
The most visited theme parks in the World. Four amazing parks in a big world, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios.
500 Miles For SMA
13 March 2015
Try the boardwalk or beach club hotels for easy access to Epcot. Try the Poly for access to the TTA and the Magic Kingdom. Victoria and Alberts = best restaurant in the universe:
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