43 Cool Facts About Walt Disney World

Ever since Walt Disney World, in Florida, greeted its first visitants in 1971, it’s rooted itself in the American cognizance in ways few other organizations ever have. But Disney’s triumph was no fluke. The park struck influential because of its unrelenting importance on its visitors and their experiences—and perhaps just a small bit of pixie dust.

Still, when your resort greets millions of guests each year, there is a whole lot of experience to handle. And generally, there’s a ton of things going on behind the scenes. From its clandestine underground tunnels that only a picked few will ever see to its 30,000 guest rooms that would demand 68 years of your life to stay in, the Disney World has a lot going on that most visitors never see—or know about.

Read on for 43 amazing facts about America’s beloved theme park. Oh, and if you’re concerned: We assure, no matter how much you know, it won’t destroy the spell.Image: Flickr

1. Highest Number of Employees

If you summed up the number of employees at every other Disney park globally—Disneyland Resort in California, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and Shanghai Disney Resort—you’d still fall about 5,000 people deficient of the 70,000 folks who work at Walt Disney World in Florida. What’s more, each of the park’s workers—from its costumed princesses to its front-desk clerks—are lovingly referred to as “cast members.” And with several people putting on the show each day, Walt Disney World is the biggest single-site employer in the United States.
Source: medium.com, Image: Flickr

2. Flag Ceremony

A military veteran takes part in a flag-lowering tradition every day at 5 p.m. on Main Street, U.S.A. in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

3. French Fry Engines

The steam engines on the Disneyland Railroad are fired by old French fry oil. After several days of its employment in the kitchens throughout the park, the oil is transformed into biodiesel that the trains can run on.
Source: disneypark.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

4. The Beatles Story

In 1974, at Disney World’s Polynesian Resort, the Beatles signed the documents that officially broke up the group.
Source: medium.com, Image: Flickr

5. Behind Dumbo Ride

The original Dumbo ride featured a mouse brandishing a whip to make the elephants fly. Since then, the whip has been replaced with a magic feather.
Source: medium.com, Image: Flickr

6. Identical Rides 

The track layouts for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland and the Dinosaur ride at Disney World are nearly identical.
Source: medium.com, Image: Flickr

7. Cinderella’s Castle

Cinderella’s Castle isn’t actually made of stone. it’s fiberglass that Disney had to get special permission from the government to use, as it doesn’t meet building code. Plus, the castle is built on a slight incline so it looks bigger and sits higher than the rest of the park.
Source: snopes.com, Image: Flickr

8. Not a Crook

Former President Richard Nixon delivered his infamous “I’m not a crook” speech in the ballroom of Disney’s Contemporary Resort in 1973.
Source: orlandoweekly.com, Image: Flickr

9. Hidden Rooms

Most of the Magic Kingdom sits atop a hidden two-story building that holds wardrobe and break-rooms for the cast and park technicians, among other things. More than 30 secret stairwells and elevators connect the building to the park.
Source: businessinsider.com

10. Overshoot Waiting Time

According to a Walt Disney World cast member, they overshoot wait times for rides by about five to ten minutes so that visitors are pleasantly surprised by the shorter-than-expected times.
Source: medium.com

11. Don’t Lose Your Sunglasses

Every single day, an average of 210 pairs of sunglasses are turned in to the incredible Lost and Found department at Disney World. Good luck sifting through that pile if your aviators go missing over in Toon Town.
Source: popsugar.com, Image: Flickr

12. Turkey Legs

Giant turkey legs were first introduced at Disney World the 90s and became such a popular item that they were quickly introduced to the other parks. More than 2 million turkey drumsticks are consumed at Disneyland and Disney World every year, and you can even buy all sorts of gear (t-shirts, hats, etc.) with pictures of turkey legs on them.
Source: disneypark.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

13. Cinderella Suite

There’s a hotel suite tucked away in Cinderella’s Castle that can sleep up to six and has flat-screen TV disguised as magic mirrors. Unfortunately, you can’t just make a reservation – overnight guests are winners that are chosen at random by the park each day.
Source: disneypark.disney.go.com

14. Inflammation in Tickets

When Disney’s Magic Kingdom first opened in 1971, adult admission cost $3.50. Today, it’s over $120.
Source: disneypark.disney.go.com

15. The City of Tomorrow

Walt Disney’s dreams of the “city of tomorrow” never came to fruition, but the entire resort is sort of its own self-governing city, complete with its own fire departments and emergency services.
Source: medium.com

16. For the Protection of Animals

Fifteen miles south of Disney World is the Disney Wilderness Preserve, which is a 12,000-acre wetlands mitigation project that Disney company bought it in the 90s. Disney provides funds for restoration and wildlife monitoring in order to offset the lands impacted by the development of Walt Disney World. Fair enough.
Source: disneypark.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

17. A Life Time Worth of Hotel Stays

If you spent one night in each hotel room in Disney World, it’d take you 68 years. And, no, they don’t rent by the hour.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

18. Not Really In Orlando

Forget everything you thought you knew. The majority of the Walt Disney World Resort is actually located in the city of Bay Lake. Orlando’s just its larger, more memorably named neighbor. It’s also a pretty legit city you should actually spend some time in. You might have thought Disney World was located in the City of Orlando, but it’s actually a part of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special taxing district that acts with the same authority and responsibility as a county government. Disney helped organize the district himself, so he could leverage more control over the areas surrounding his theme park. And technically, Reedy Creek is comprised of two cities of its own, the City of Bay Lake and the City of Lake Buena Vista. The district has its own contracts for fire, law, and traffic protection, and boasts just a few dozen full-time residents—all of whom work for Disney.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com

19. Impossible to Reserve

One of the most disappointing Walt Disney World facts is how little there really is to Cinderella’s Castle.  From the outside, it’s opulence is without question. On the inside, though, it merely features a restaurant, Cinderella’s Table, and the Bibbidi Bobbiddi Boutique, as well as a highly coveted hotel room that’s nearly impossible to reserve. (The hotel room was originally designed to be Walt Disney’s apartment.)
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com

20. Drink Without a Straw

At the Animal Kingdom, you’ll have to suck down that Coke without a straw. And be careful not to spill your beverage because you’re not getting a lid either. Disney World doesn’t offer either at this park as a precaution to the animals.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com

21. Cleanest Theme Park

At Disney World, you’re never more than 30 steps away from a trash can. As a result, it’s one of the cleanest theme parks in America.
Source: cheatsheet.com, Image: Flickr

22. Find the Hidden Mickey

Hidden Mickey’s are everywhere! The Mickey silhouette can be found in décor, table settings, buildings, and numerous other places. Keep your eyes open and make a game of it.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com

23. Bring Your Own Gum

If you’re a gum chewer, you better bring your own stash. In an effort to keep the parks clean, none is sold on-site.
Source: touringplans.com, Image: Flickr

24. Tricks Behind the Safari

If you’ve ever ridden the exceptional Kilimanjaro Safari, you’ll no doubt have seen exotic species like on the move and in easy-to-view places. How do they always cooperate with guests so easily? The naturalists on staff use a few tricks, such as shooting raisins towards the gorillas and putting honey on the top of safari vehicles for elephants. And that rock the lion is leisurely enjoying? It’s air-conditioned. The zebras and giraffes, however, are free-roaming and even cause roadblocks at times!
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

25. The Infamous 

Sure, a lot of sunglasses get lost at Disney World but what are the oddest items to get misplaces? Try a glass eye, prosthetic leg and potty trainer. Believe it or not, all were claimed!
Source: medium.com

26. The Secret of Screams

In my opinion, The Tower of Terror is the most thrilling ride at Disney World. Those sudden free falls make me scream every single time. One of the little-known Walt Disney World facts, though, is the screams you’re hearing on the ground and around the park aren’t real. Sure, some of them are but to induce an even more terror-filled allure the majority of what you hear has been pre-recorded.
Source: medium.com

27. Really That American?

The flags are required to be raised, lowered and flown at half-mast due to regulations. As a result, each flag on Main Street U.S.A. is missing a star and a stripe so they can be flown permanently.
Source: bbc.com, Image: Flickr

28. Haunting Rides

Sadly, when the Pirates of the Caribbean was being built, an Imagineer named George was killed. Legend has it his ghost haunts the ride to this day. Cast members say “Goodnight, George” at the closing of each night as a superstition to prevent ride closures the next day.
Source: bbc.com

29. All the Ghosts in the Park

One of the odder Walt Disney World facts is how many people wish to have their ashes spread at the park. It’s such a common phenomenon Disney World has cleaning protocols in place for this exact occurrence.
Source: wsj.com

30. Disney’s Hollywood Studios

In its original form, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was a real studio, not a theme park. Show like “The Mickey Mouse Club” was filmed there before it was transformed into its current iteration.
Source: wikiwand.com

31. Christmas Tree Spree

During the holiday season, more than 1,500 Christmas trees are on display throughout Disney World Theme Parks. In addition, there’s miles and miles of garland used to turn this park into a winter wonderland.
Source: explorethemagic.com, Image: Flickr

32. Number of Times Closed

Disney World has only closed four times since opening in 1971. The first was for Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The second was for the terror attacks on 9/11. And the third was a power failure in 2002. The fourth was for Hurricane Matthew in 2006. Interestingly enough, it took less than 30 minutes to evacuate thousands of guests on 9/11.
Source: explorethemagic.com

33. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

Did you know U2 was the original choice for Hollywood Studios’ Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster? They declined the offer and the rest is history…err…Aerosmith.
Source: explorethemagic.com, Image: Flickr

34. Miles and Miles of Mickey

If connected end to end, Mickey Mouse ear hats would span over 175 miles. That’s a lot of mouse ears!
Source: wdwnews.com

35. That Fashion-Sense Though

Mickey Mouse has quite a fashionable wardrobe—almost 300 pieces fill his closet. Minnie’s with around 200 pieces, is tame in comparison.
Source: shopdisney.com, Image: Flickr

36. The Tower of Terror

The Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom each stand exactly 199-feet tall. That’s no coincidence, either. Buildings taller than 200-feet are required to flash aviation lights. And, of course, that would ruin some of the magic.
Source: eater.com

37. Automated Vacuum Collection

To remove trash from the park, the Magic Kingdom uses an automated vacuum collection (AVAC) system that functions in the park’s vast underground utilidors, or underground tunnels. To use the system, custodians remove trash and dump it into special processors. From there, it’s brought underground and pushed along at 60 miles per hour to a central location where it is processed, compressed, and transferred to a landfill or recycling center.
Source: waste360.com

38. The Disney World Railroad

The Disney World Railroad in the Magic Kingdom offers a great photo opp—but it’s also worth noting that it’s a functional steam-powered train that carries 1.5 million passengers each year. The four trains were originally built between 1916 and 1928 and have been restored to run in tip-top shape.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

39. A Controlled Community at EPCOT

Walt Disney had big plans for Disney World, and one of them was to create a controlled community at Epcot, which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The seemingly dystopian plan was to select 20,000 people to live in the city, which would have shopping areas, residential properties, theaters, restaurants, and—most questionably—a climate-controlled setting. After Disney died, the project was deemed unrealistic, and it was scrapped.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

40. The Fountain at EPCOT

The fountain at Epcot Innoventions Plaza can shoot water 150 feet in the air. Keep in mind that the tallest fountain in the world, located in Busan, South Korea, shoots just 30-feet higher. If the Innoventions fountain released all of its shooters at once, it would emit 2,000 gallons of water.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com, Image: Flickr

41. Coca-Cola Beverages

Each year, guests purchase more than 75 million Coca-Cola beverages. That’s compared to just 13 million bottles of water. Hydration is key, people!
Source: theguardian.com, Image: Flickr

42. For the Nocturnals

Not all of the creatures in Disney’s Animal Kingdom love the daytime. To see the park’s nocturnal animals in their element, visitors can go on a thrilling nighttime safari. In addition to a trek through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve after hours, the experience also includes a meal of African-inspired dishes paired with regional beer and wine.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com

43. Economical Campsites

If you’re looking for a more rugged Disney experience, The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort have you covered. For around $55, visitors can pitch a tent on the park’s 750 acres of forest. If you’re lucky, you might spot some deer, rabbits, ducks, or armadillos.
Source: disneyworld.disney.go.com