“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they are in the park (Disneyland). I want them to feel they are in another world”- Walt Disney
Do you know of the exact incident that sparked Walt Disney’s idea of building Walt Disney World? Well…when Walt was alive, he used to stand at the exit of Disneyland wishing the guests a farewell at the end of the night. According to him, no oneleft before closing time. One night, a family walked by him as they were leaving the park, before closing time, and Walt stopped them. He asked them why they were leaving early, worried that maybe a cast member had been rude or something bad had happened. They said everything was wonderful, but when they were on the sky ride, they were able to see the highway and they could see there was a lot of traffic. They wanted to get a head start home in order to beat some of that traffic. Walt wouldn’t hear of it; so he decided that day that he would build a bigger park in a location with lots of room to build. He wanted it to be such that once you entered, you would have no ties with the outside world.
Since Disneyland was in the middle of the city and was so small, he couldn’t accomplish that goal in California. He started searching for a location, preferably in the eastern United States, where he could develop such a place. When he found it, he was very excited. He told the press, “Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland…the blessing of size. There’s enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.” And I’ll tell you a very interesting fact that I found out on my Keys to the Kingdom Tour. Do you know that with all of the Walt Disney World Resort combined; including the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom park, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Downtown Disney Marketplace and Pleasure Island, all 32 resorts, 81 holes of golf on five courses, Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex and Downtown Disney’s entertainment-shopping-dining complex, that only 1/4 of the land Disney owns has actually been developed? That is AMAZING!
The land purchased by the Disney Company is 47 square miles (27,000 acres) altogether. Disney set aside a 7,500 acre Conservation Area in 1970, which would never be built on. This would preserve cypress trees as well as provide land for the area’s natural inhabitants. Over the years, an additional 3,000 acres was purchased by Disney, bringing the Walt Disney World Resort’s total size to over 30,000 acres. It is a world within itself – Walt’s dream world.
When people ask me for my opinion on whether they should stay on Disney property or not, I always encourage them to reserve a room on-property. I have stayed off property before and it is disappointing to have been having a magical day in a beautiful place, then have someone ruin it by being less than kind off-property. It is worth staying on-site in order to achieve that “surrounded by Disney magic” feeling that I think is paramount when visiting Walt Disney World.
The magic is in the way the cast members treat you and the way Disney lovers treat each other; it is in your wake-up call and the greetings on your morning coffee run; it is in riding the Disney transportation, visiting Disney resorts and playing in the parks; it is on every ride, it is the ice cream and the Dole Whip; it’s in the amazement when a child’s face lights up when seeing Mickey or a princess for the very first time; it is the feeling you get when you are watching the amazing fireworks and thinking of how pleased Walt would be.
Once you are on the Disney property, there is no reason to leave. Walt made sure you would be able to be surrounded by the magic 24/7. The magic lives on property. Envelop yourself!
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