Travel - Destinations
By: - at June 4, 2014

15 Fascinating Facts About Disney World

15 Fascinating Facts About Disney World.

It's the most magical place on Earth, goes the saying, and with roughly 17 million visitors annually, it seems like the saying might be right. Disney World in Orlando, Florida is one of the top attractions for people of all ages, from families with children to adults who simply want to escape their grownup responsibilities and play like kids for a while. Walt Disney's vision for a theme park in central Florida has come to fruition in spectacular fashion, even though the visionary founder did not live to see all of his ideas come to life. The staff at Disney World works extremely hard to keep the magic alive, giving every guest a truly wonderful time during their stay at the parks.

Disney World has a unique history with complex multiple theme parks in one location and the crew has determination to keep many of the parks' inner workings out of public view in order to avoid spoiling the magic. There are numerous fascinating facts about Disney World to explore and here are 15 of the highlights.


15)  Lost and Found
When people travel and sightsee, it's inevitable that occasionally their personal possessions are lost. With the number of great activities available at Disney World, it's even more inevitable that distracted guests will misplace their phones, sunglasses, hats, bags, or other items now and then. Every year, approximately 6,000 phones, 3,500 digital cameras and 18,000 hats are turned in to Disney's lost and found. Since it is Disney World, the process of retrieving lost items is approached through art. A travel reporter describes his own adventures with lost and found items, gives some insight into the process by which Disney does its best to reunite every lost possession with a grateful owner. Every two hours all lost and found items are taken to the main Guest Relations office at the front of each theme park, where owners can ask for their missing items if they lost them earlier in the day. At the end of the day, any unclaimed items go to a special Lost and Found office located near the Transportation and Ticket Center. This office has its own phone number where guests can inquire about their lost items.

A few of the most unusual items ever submitted to Disney World's Lost and Found office include a potty trainer, a prosthetic leg and a glass eye. All of them, incidentally, were later claimed.

Walt Disney World Lost and Found
Walt Disney World lost and found.
Courtesy of blog.touringplans.com


14)  It's Enormous. No, Really Enormous
Anyone who has walked all day exploring even one of Disney World's theme parks, especially the sprawling Epcot or Animal Kingdom, can tell you about the size of the parks. Their aching feet might state the case even more eloquently and that is because the property owned by Disney in Florida is truly epic in scale. When Walt Disney was planning for his new theme park project in Florida, he was guided by the experience of Disneyland in California where it was in a built up area with little room to grow. Unsatisfied with the constraints of that location, Disney wanted a vast area where his visions for a new theme park and resort could really come about. As a result, Disney World actually owns more than 30,000 acres of land in central Florida, roughly 43 square miles. This is twice as large as Manhattan, or roughly the same size as Boston and San Francisco. Only about 35 percent of this land has been developed.

Aerial view of Magic Kingdom, just a fraction of Walt Disney World
Anyone who has walked all day exploring even one of Disney World's theme parks, especially the sprawling Epcot or Animal Kingdom, can tell you about the size of the parks.


13)  The Work Never Ends
Talking about working in a place like Disney World should be a sin, you are there to have fun! Forget about things like customers, deadlines, or working shifts. None of that exists in Disney World, except for all the people that work there. Itís odd to think about the people that get to dress up as princesses, talking animals or even pirates as working but thatís what they are doing nonetheless. There are also myriad people who work their shifts every day in Disney World. From the ones you see, like workers at resorts and restaurants, to the ones you canít see, milling around in the shadows and behind closed doors to make sure everything works as it should, so nothing can ruin your days of fun.

The number of people working in Disney World is as staggering as the size of the park but perhaps precisely because of how big it is, it should not surprise you to know that Disney World hosts a horde of more than 62,000 workers. It is the largest single place employer in the whole USA. There are towns smaller than that and considering that many live right there in the park, itís as if Disney World is its own country.

Disney Crew


12)  The Miceís Wardrobe
You would think that a mouse and his rodent girlfriend wouldnít need much clothing. You are already grateful enough that Walt Disney designed Mickey Mouse to wear pants and that Minnie wears a dress. Considering that the characters hardly, if ever change clothes in the cartoon, what kind of wardrobe Mickey and Minnie Mouse have is not something you stop to think about.

Thatís why itís such a shocker when you hear that Mickey has more than 290 outfits,  that's more clothes than most people have in their life. The Mouse has everything from scuba suits to tuxedos and Mickey is not the only one of course, his girlfriend boasts an impressive wardrobe of 200 pieces herself that range from cheerleader outfits to night gowns. Itís interesting to note that Mickey has more outfits than his girlfriend, the sassy rascal! You have to wonder if he is a fashion victim but more importantly, when would he ever need to wear a scuba suit?

Mickey and Minnie in Lavish Clothing


11)  Those Socks Smell Awful
Everybody hates doing laundry because itís annoying, it takes time and having to shuffle through smelly clothes that have been sitting all week is not the most pleasant experience. But there is no choice because you donít have enough clothes to do laundry every day and who does that anyway?

Disney World does that every day, several times in fact!  Just imagine it, all of those workerís uniforms, suits, costumes and stuffed animal suits. It never ends and in Disney World, itís laundry day every day. Just so you can raise your eyebrows really high and never again complain about washing your undies; you should know that Disney World washes a total of more than 285 thousand pounds of clothes every day. It would take you 52 years to go through so much laundry.

And just to make things funnier, there is the addition of having to dry clean more than 32 thousand items a day, too. Guess fake fur is not exactly something you can shove into the washing machine with your undies after all.

Tiny Pile of Laundry compared to Disney World's
It never ends and in Disney World, itís laundry day every day.


10)  Itís All in Your Eyes
Disney World is all magic and fantasy but what you donít expect is to be tricked into seeing things that are not even there. Thatís not magic, just a very clever and neat optical illusion. If you have ever heard or seen a picture of forced perspective, this is what allows those cool chalk paintings on the pavement to look like they are real and three dimensional. Seen from the right angle, it can make you seem like you are about to walk into a chasm.

Thatís what they did for the Cinderella castle but in a more incredible manner, if that is possible. The fiberglass building is not small, not at all. Itís a full 179 feet high but that is not quite impressive enough for a castle. Thatís why the bricks and windows at the top are smaller than the ones at the base, this makes it look like they are higher up. The main road to the castle is also angled in such a way that the castle always looks to be further away than it really is and like it should be smaller. Itís cranking the forced perspective trick up to eleven but a little tricking is worth it when the result is so spectacular.

Cinderella Castle
Cinderella Castle uses forced perspective.


9)  Message from the Afterlife
Morse code is not exactly a skill everyone learns, mostly because it stopped being useful centuries ago. Learning it nowadays wouldnít help you find a job or boast much to your friends, unless you hang out with octogenarians. Back in the days of the Old West, Morse code was used as much as the Internet or cellphones are nowadays. Thatís why at the entrance of FrontierLand they are constantly clicking a message in Morse code.

The good part about it is that itís not just a random message urging you to buy more Coke or Mickey-eared hats. No, the message you can hear is none other than the opening day speech that Walt Disney had prepared for the inauguration of the park. Sadly, the man died from lung cancer complications before the first brick was even put in place, so instead you have this Morse message. Itís nice to hear Waltís welcoming speech every day for the inauguration that he never lived to see.

FrontierLand Entrance


8)  Animal Wars

All the animals you see in Disney World are of the cuddly, stuffed kind that hides a sweaty, half-dehydrated person inside. Not only those but there are many other animals in rides, statues, figures,  projections, and animatronics. You donít usually expect to see living animals except at the petting zoo. Thatís why it comes as such a shock when you encounter a feral cat roaming around parts of Disney World.

There are not just a couple of them either, a whole army of cats patrol Disney Worldís territory like a very scary and small version of Mufasa's family. These cats are not some workerís pets that run away and started having kittens, either. Disney World has them on purpose and they have a very clear task, dealing with rodents. No, they are not going to maul Mickey and Minnie any time soon! Itís real rodents that these cats hunt down and keep under control because pests are never fun, even less in your thematic park.

Feral Disney Cat at Work

Another cute animal with a hunting job in Disney World is the ladybug. These adorable dotted bugs are released to fight and eat other more pernicious insects. The park has a lot of gardens and flowers that need to be cared for, so the little black and red warriors help the gardeners keep the plants pest free.

Ladybugs help with plant pests
Ladybug on Disney World Flowers


7)  The Early Bird Catches the Worm
When you are on vacations the last thing you want to think about is waking up early, nobody likes rising with the sun if you donít have to because thatís something you already have to do when you go to work. Of course, your kids would disagree a thousand percent of the time on that account. School days are to procrastinate via waking up ten minutes before the school bus arrives but vacations are days to get up as early as humanly possible and still be able to say itís morning.

At least in Disney World, the kids have an excuse and itís worth it! For really early visitors, you can participate in special events that only happen first thing in the morning. For example, if you go to Tinkerbellís shop then your children will have the privilege of waking her up. Letís hope she is a morning person and doesnít demand breakfast in bed.

Tinkerbell's Nook
Tinkerbellís shop then your children will have the privilege of waking her up.


6)  Where Is the Car, Again?
If there is something about Disney World you cannot complain about, it's the parking space. Okay, there are a million things you canít complain about in Disney World because itís Disney World! You would have to be the biggest grump in the world to be complaining while in there but returning to the matter at hand, the parking space would not be one of them even if you were a curmudgeon with a severe allergy to fun. For starters, each of the parking areas is named after one of the dwarves in Snow White. There can be little joys in life better than being able to say that you parked all the way up in Grumpy. The other reason is the space because Disney Worldís parking lot is huge, really huge. If you think the Magic Kingdom is big, know that the parking lot could have the MK inside and still have space to fit 500 cars. You are going to need a car ride to get to where you parked, and thankfully there are shuttles to bring you to the area where you parked.

Epcot Parking Lot
Epcot Parking Lot


5)  Secret Tunnel

Disney World Tunnels
There is a very infamous rumor going around that says that there is a secret tunnel labyrinth going all around Disney Worldís underbelly and unlike many rumors, this one is 100 percent true.
Courtesy of www.disneyorama.com

There is a very infamous rumor going around that says that there is a secret tunnel labyrinth going all around Disney Worldís underbelly and unlike many rumors, this one is 100 percent true. The net of tunnels was built very intentionally and for a very normal reason. Itís Disney World sure but donít think a system of tunnels can only be built for some ham fisted villain scheme to conquer the world.

The tunnels are used by the workers to travel from one point to the other of the facilities without being seen by the visitors of the park. You donít usually see any maintenance workers, cleaning crews or dozens of laundry carts being pulled around the place because they are all under your feet. Actors and performers also use the tunnels to go to their scheduled performances without being stopped by every tourist and never make it in time.

The most interesting part about these tunnels is that they are not underground and they have never been. They are actually at ground level and Magic Kingdom was built on top, using the soil extracted to make the Seven Seas lagoon to build up the kingdomís slopes.


4)  Cinderella Suite
Perhaps the Cinderella castle is smaller than your eyes tell you but that doesnít mean itís still not big enough to have plenty of room inside. Enough room to build a whole apartment within its walls was the plan Walt Disney had for it. The man had planned to build a living space for him and his family at the top of the fiberglass building so they would have a place to stay at when visiting Florida.

Due to his premature death, the project was never finished. However, Disney World decided to carry on with the plan and build a deluxe hotel suite in 2006 that's not only for the obscenely rich. Every day the suit is assigned to a random visiting family, who can spend the night in lavish comfort. How lavish do you say? It has 24-karat gold floor tiles and a secret mirror that turns into a TV, there must be a lot of luggage checks to make sure nobody tries to get some floor tiles home as a ďsouvenirĒ.

Cinderella Castle Suite


3)  Thatís One Heavy Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain is a very well known attraction of Disney World and one heck of a roller coaster ride. It's obviously no surprise that it took a lot of planning, hard work and tons of material to turn it from a draft on a paper to reality. What is surprising is just how much planning, work and material it required. After all itís just some steep slopes, dips, loops and thatís all. Right? Wrong.

The designers of Big Thunder Mountain would strongly disagree; they would disagree for about ten years. Thatís how long it took to design and plan the rollercoaster. The building part took far less time, clocking in at a mere 18 months. This coaster took more than your standard concrete, paint and steel seams. In all, 650 tons of steel, 4,675 tons of a specially designed mud and 9,000 gallons of paint were needed. Big Thunder Mountain ended costing 17 million dollars, just as much has the whole Magic Kingdom cost when it was built in 1955.

Big Thunder Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain is a very well known attraction of Disney World and one heck of a roller coaster ride.

By Burail1, via Wikimedia Commons


2)  Copycats
Disney World is a magic, unique place in the world or it was, until other Disney theme parks began cropping up around the world. Disneyland came first, so in a way Disney World was a bigger and brighter copy of the original. Since then, other parks have been built in Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. Some of the most popular, iconic rides that have been reproduced on the other Disney parks are Space Mountain, Country Bear Jamboree, Innoventions and Mickeyís House. So the mouse is not just happy with having a bigger wardrobe, he also has six residences abroad!

One thing that Disney World doesnít have and Disneyland does is the secretive, exclusive Club 33. This club is hidden from prying eyes inside the park, only members know how to enter and can do so because the waiting list is years long. On top of this distinction, each of the international Disney parks have features of their own that set them apart from food items to cultural touchstones that have meaning to their host countries. Each park therefore is at once familiar and new with something unique to offer visitors despite their similarities to each other.

Belle's Castle in Disney, Paris
Disney World is a magic, unique place in the world or it was, until other Disney theme parks began cropping up around the world.
By Topalaska, via Wikimedia Commons

Club 33 is an exclusive members only area of DisneyLand, CA.
By Mxreb0, via Wikimedia Commons


1)  Hidden Mickeys
Probably one of the funniest games you can play during your visit at Disney World is trying to find all of the Hidden Mickeys. These secret pictures of the world's most famous mouse head were at first a private joke between the Imagineers, the designers of Disney World, but soon it became a sort of tradition. You can find some of the most obvious ones as paintings on walls and corners but some of the hardest ones to find can be shadows, silhouettes or statues that only have the right shape when you see them from a special angle. Disney World updates the list of hidden Mickeys regularly, adding new entries that the visitors can find during the stay but the real number of them might be Disney Worldís best kept secret!

Hidden Mickey
Probably one of the funniest games you can play during your visit at Disney World is trying to find all of the Hidden Mickeys.


Conclusion
Disney World is certainly a magic place but itís not only because of the rides and cartoon characters going around giving free hugs, while staying in character. There is a magic that lies deep in the bones of the place from when and how it was conceived, built and operated even to this day. It's in the way everything is designed to make you feel like you've really been transported to a fairy tale or in this case, the stories that made up your childhood. This sense of wonder, nostalgia and happiness is what makes Disney World one of the most magical places on the planet. It's why so many people flock every year to see it, most returning several times during their lives.

Fantasy and imagination are the way people escape from the harshness of reality. You do it every day too, when work is too taxing, when money is tight, when your health is not the best. Usually itís small escapes:  watching a TV show you enjoy, reading a good book or playing a favorite game. However, itís only in Disney World where you can completely forget what worries are for a whole day or for as long as you stay. It's about getting immersed in that wonderful fantasy you dream about and itís the reason it will keep having thousands of visitors every year, for years to come. As long as there are dreams and imagination, there will be a Disney World.



 

 

 

 

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