Magic Kingdom Fun Facts

By: N. J. Lutes

Opening Day

On Nov. 11, 1965, over forty years ago, Walt Disney announced what he called his Florida Project. Six years later, Walt Disney World officially opened on October 1, 1971. Planners expected 100,000 visitors, but only 10,000 appeared. That disappointment was short lived. Since 1971, Walt Disney World has been host to 130 million people from more than 100 nations.

The day it opened, there were 23 attractions in six themed areas: Main Street, U.S.A. Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.

Property Purchases

M.T. Lott Realty was one of Walt's pseudonyms used to privately purchase land around Orlando. If you say fast, it sounds like: 'Empty Lot.' A curious reporter from Miami did some digging and learned that the owner of M.T. Lott Realty was Mrs. Minnie Mouse. Walt did this so that property owners would not escalate the prices -- knowing who he was. He bought his first acre of land for $80 and his last for $80,000. So his plan worked for a short time anyway.

Designing the Castle

Artist, Herbert Ryman, joined the creative team at Walt Disney Studios in California in 1938. He worked on films such as Dumbo and Fantasia. In 1953, Walt asked Ryman to sketch the original design for Disneyland, taking him in a new direction in his career. (It was during these years that Walt Disney coined the word Imagineering.)

Ryman was then asked to design Cinderella Castle at Disney World. He began with a charcoal sketch, which he developed into a painting. He used several French castles for his inspiration, as well as the Cinderella movie. Construction of the castle began in late 1969, and it took 18 months to complete. Six hundred tons of steel were used in the framework. The Castle is 189 feet tall. Inside the Castle, an apartment for the Disney family was designed and built inside the upper floors, but it was never completed or occupied.

What's inside the castle now? A shop which sells glass crystal ornaments, and a restaurant called Cinderella's Royal Table.

Cinderella's Golden Carousel

1967, Disney purchased Cinderella's Golden Carousel from the Olympic Park in Maplewood, New Jersey. The carousel was originally built in 1917 by The Philadelphia Toboggan Company, one of the most prestigious carousel companies. Ninety of the horses are from the original carousel, hand carved from wood. In addition, there are eleven fiberglass horses made by Disney.

Cinderella's own horse can be found in the second rank of horses. It is the only one that has a golden bow on its tail. The horses on the outside of the carousel are the largest, decreasing in size to the smallest horses in the center. Next time you're on the carousel, notice that only the side that faces outward is intricately detailed. The side that faces inward is very plain.

Early Morning Rehearsals

Since the members of the Cinderella Castle Stage Shows cannot rehearse while visitors are in the park, they have to schedule a time before the park opens. They report for rehearsals on stage at five in the morning. Now that's early!! Rehearsals run until the park opens.

It takes nearly 60,000 cast members to keep the show going at Walt Disney World. With more than 3,000 different job roles available, one could not find a more diverse group anywhere.

Costumes for Everyone

Costuming is a major undertaking at Disney World. Creative Costuming designs, creates or purchases all of the costumes worn by Walt Disney World performers - some 3500 of them. This department also provides costumes for the entire Magic Kingdom property including parks, resorts, firefighters, security, bus drivers, landscapers, food service, and ranch hands. And don't forget the 926 Audio-Animatronics® figures. All 12,000 are supplied with costumes as well.

Over a million yards of fabric are used for new costumes, while more than more than 2 million yards are kept in the overall inventory. That's a lot of cloth.

Magical Moments

Dream Squad members are required to take in-depth training on company heritage and culture. On the job, they create personalized guest interactions, such as setting up a coloring station for little ones near a height-restrictive attraction. Or they may randomly award prizes, such as a return trip to Walt Disney World Resort or a Dream FASTPASS, as part of the Disney Dreams Giveaway. These caring and energetic cast members enjoy creating Magical Moments as they share their passion for Walt Disney World Resort with guests of all ages.

Animal Friends

Disney's Animal Kingdom is home to 33 species listed as endangered or threatened. The facility participates in internationally cooperative breeding programs that take strategic measures to increase animal populations through captive propagation.

These programs ensure that populations of these endangered species will grow. Since the park opened, more than 116 species have reproduced at Disney's Animal Kingdom. These successful births include mandrills, lowland gorillas, black rhinos, white rhinos and okapi.

Giant Mountains

Everything at Disney World is gigantic. Walt Disney World is home to the two tallest 'mountains' in Florida: Big Thunder Mountain, which stand at 197 feet tall and Space Mountain in Tomorrowland, which is 180 feet tall. The Magic Kingdom's third mountain is Splash Mountain, standing 87 feet tall above

Frontierland.

Big Thunder Mountain took 10 years of planning and 18 months of construction to complete. The construction used 650 tons of steel, 4,675 tons of specially-formulated 'mud,' and more than 9,000 gallons of paint. The cost of $17 million equals that of the California Disneyland opening in 1955. Additionally, $300,000 was spent on authentic set decorations.

Spic and Span

Walt Disney's penchant for cleanliness comes to the foreground as Disney World sanitation crews work 24 hours a day. They pick up the garbage and dump it into the AVAC systems throughout the park. Garbage is then sucked to a central location for processing. The AVAC system moves garbage through pipes at 60 miles per hour using compressed air. The system operates at 20 minute intervals. Some have compared the sound to that of a tornado quickly approaching, then passing you by. The system moves the garbage from all points around the park to a central location where it processed and recycled.

Bottom Line

Whether you look at the headliner events or go behind the scenes to learn the little-known fun facts, it equals the same message: Disney World is definitely magical place where dreams really do come true.

A quote from Walt himself sums it up nicely:
"In my view, wholesome pleasure, sport, and recreation are as vital to this nation as productive work and should have a large share in the national budget."

Let's all write to our legislators!

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