Walt Disney World logo

Walt Disney World Resort
Theme parks

Magic Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Animal Kingdom

Other attractions

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
Disney's Blizzard Beach
Downtown Disney
ESPN Wide World of Sports
Disney's BoardWalk

Walt Disney World resorts

The Walt Disney World Resort is the world's largest and most visited recreational resort,Template:Fact covering a 40 square mile area and encompassing four theme parks, two water parks, 24 on-site themed hotels, and other entertainment and recreational venues. Located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, the resort complex is owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, a division of The Walt Disney Company. The property is often abbreviated as 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

Cindyrella's Castle @ Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle, the icon of the Magic Kingdom

Spaceship Earth at EPCOT

Spaceship Earth, the icon of Epcot

MGM sorcererhat

The Sorcerer's Hat, the icon of Disney's Hollywood Studios

WDWAK Tree of Life

The Tree of Life, the icon of Disney's Animal Kingdom

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.[1]

Walt Disney flew over the Orlando site (one of many) on November 22, 1963. He had previously flown over Sanford, Florida and approached the city council to allow him to build Disney World there, but was denied. 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, he immediately fell in love with the site. When later asked why he chose it, he said, "the freeway routes, they bisect here." Disney focused most of his attention on the "Florida Project" where he purchased land for Disney World, both before and after his participation at the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair, but he died on December 15, 1966, and never saw his vision complete.

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 Corporation (a pun on Interstate 4). Others were also used with second or secret meanings which add to the lore of the Florida Project, including M.T. Lott Real Estate Investments ("empty lot").[2] Some of these names are memorialized on a window above Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom.

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.[2]

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.[1]

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.Template:Citation needed Hart had previously worked with John Carl Warnecke & Associates, which designed the John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.Template:Citation needed

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.[1]

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, about Template:Convert southwest of Orlando within southwestern Orange County, with the remainder in adjacent Osceola County. Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista are controlled by Disney through the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The Template:Convert[3] 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 Template: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


Disney World Park Ticket.

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

Water parks

*Typhoon Lagoon
*Blizzard Beach

Other attractions

*Downtown Disney
*Disney's BoardWalk
*Disney's Wedding Pavilion
*ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
*Walt Disney World Speedway / Home To The: Richard Petty Driving Experience

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. Additional recreational activities include watercraft rentals, surrey bike rentals, and firework cruises that launch from several resort marinas.


On-site Disney Resorts

There are 32 resorts and hotels located on the Walt Disney World property. Of those, 24 are owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company. The Disney resorts are classified into five categories: Deluxe, Moderate, Value, Disney Vacation Club Villas, and Campground.

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

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

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

Cabins and Campgrounds

*Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Disney Vacation Club Resorts

Main article: Disney Vacation Club

*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 (including the Treehouse Villas)
*Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas
*Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney's Magical Express

Guests with a Disney Resort reservation arriving at Orlando International Airport can be transported to their Disney resort from the airport using the complimentary 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.

On-site non-Disney hotels

*Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel
*Doubletree Guest Suite Resort
*Regal Sun Resort
*Hilton Orlando 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

*Four Seasons: On March 1, 2007 Disney announced plans to convert its Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge golf courses into a new Template:Convert luxury resort that will include a Four Seasons hotel, an 18-hole championship golf course, and single- and multi-family vacation homes plus fractional ownership vacation homes.[4] Construction delays have pushed the planned opening from 2010 to 2012.[5]

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.[6] The Treehouse Villas opened during the summer of 2009.

Executive Management

* President, Walt Disney World Resort – Meg Crofton
* 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 — Dan Cockerell
** Vice President, Disney's Hollywood Studios – Rilous Carter
** Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom — Michael Colglazier
** 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 Promotions, Disney Destinations LLC. – Greg Albrecht
** Vice President Engineering, Walt Disney World Resort — Trevor Larsen
** Vice President, Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives — Dr. Jackie Ogden
** 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

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 Vice President, Magic Kingdom 2000-2001 – Erin Wallace
** Former Vice President, Magic Kingdom 1987-1994 - Bill Sullivan
** 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 —
** 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 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 [7], 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.


Disney bus in Walt Disney World, Florida

A Disney bus, one of several transportation modes within the Walt Disney World Resort

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.

Previously there were 12 operational monorails although a crash occurring in July 2009 meant that the Pink and Purple monorails were taken out of service. Parts of the Pink and Purple monorails were used to create a new monorail with the colour Teal which was put into operation in November 2009 taking the total amount of monorails to 11. 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, 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.

WDW Logo

Walt Disney World logo (1997-present)

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.

Twin town

As part of a competition run by Disney for 2010, Walt Disney World Resort will have an unofficial twinning (sister city) with:
* Template:Flagicon Swindon, England, since 2009[8][9]

Development timeline

Walt Disney announces Florida Project
Construction begins
Magic Kingdom
Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses
Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney's Polynesian Resort
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Disney's Village Resort
Shades of Green (resort)
Discovery Island
Disney's Village Resort
Walt Disney Village Marketplace
Disney's River Country
Walt Disney World Conference Center
Disney's Village Resort — Club Lake Villas
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
Pleasure Island
Disney's Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts
Walt Disney World Swan
Walt Disney World Dolphin
Disney's Port Orleans Resort French Quarter
Disney Vacation Club
Disney's Old Key West Resort
Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside
Bonnet Creek Golf Club
Disney's All-Star Sports Resort
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Disney's All-Star Music Resort
Disney's Blizzard Beach
Disney's Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion
Walt Disney World Speedway
Disney Institute
Disney's BoardWalk Inn and BoardWalk Villas
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex
Downtown Disney West Side
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney's Beach Club Villas
Disney's Pop Century Resort
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas
Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Treehouse 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


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Fogleson, Richard E. (2003). Married to the Mouse. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. pp. 274. ISBN 978-0300098280. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Koenig, David (2007). Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World. Irvine, CA: Bonaventure Press. pp. 334. ISBN 978-0964060524. 
  3. [ Walt Disney World News] Press Release on Resort Landscape Facts (2008)
  4. "Four Seasons to Anchor New Disney Luxury Resort". Walt Disney World Public Affairs. 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  5. Clarke, Sara (August 26, 2008). "Walt Disney World sells land to Four Seasons, releases rendering". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  6. "Treehouse Villas To Be Replaced By New Treehouses At Walt Disney World". 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  7. "Disney Profile". Hospitality Online. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  8. "Walt Disney World to become twin town of Swindon". BBC News Online. 
  9. "Swindon twinned with Disney World". 2009-12-07. 

External links

*Walt Disney World Resort
*Shades of Green - military hotel at Walt Disney World Resort
*Walt Disney World Resort rating at the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida