There are literally thousands of ways to get Disney World discounts, but Disney isn’t giving away the secrets of those savings! You definitely have to know where to look if you want to get a discount.
For instance, most people traveling to Disney World buy a vacation package, believing they are getting the best deal available. Often this is not the case. Others know that it may be cheaper to book everything separately, but believe that there are few or no discounts available on Disney resort hotels. Even the major guidebooks and Disney’s own reservation department tend to reinforce these beliefs.
The fact is, there are lots of ways to get discounts at Walt Disney World on the resort hotels and vacation packages. You can also save substantial money on admission passes, meals, extra entertainment offerings, airfare, rental cars and more. Spend some time exploring this site, and you may be amazed at how many Disney World bargains and deals are floating around. Read a few of the testimonials from other MouseSavers.com readers and you’ll discover that some people have saved over a thousand dollars!
Use the links below or in the left panel to read more hints, tips and tricks that will help you become a true “MouseSaver”!
Here you’ll find a step-by step guide to planning a Walt Disney World vacation. If you’ve never been to Disney World before, this is the place to start.
The easiest and most obvious way to get a Disney World Resort hotel discount is simply to book in the off-season. Disney has multiple “seasons” at its Walt Disney World resort hotels during each calendar year. Value Season is the least expensive and least crowded time, followed by Regular Season, Summer Season, Fall Season, Peak Season and Holiday Season. So the most basic way to save money on Disney’s resort hotels is simply to book in the off-season. (Learn more about the seasons and room rates.)
However, beyond seasonal Disney World hotel discounts, you may be able to save much more. Depending on availability and current promotions, it is sometimes possible to save as much as 40% off the full price “rack rates” at the Disney World resorts. The savings can add up to hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.
Read about any current discounts and special codes that can help you save big money at Disney’s resort hotels. We list only resort discount codes that have been published in reliable public locations such as newspapers, magazines or the Disney website. Any restrictions are clearly noted.
Vacation packages for Disney World are often a good value. Watch for off-season and other “special” Disney World package discounts, rather than the standard packages offered year-round, which cost the same as buying all the package components separately at (gulp) FULL PRICE!
A lot of people like Disney vacation packages because they are convenient and worry-free. Fortunately there are sometimes worthwhile promotions on Disney World vacation packages.
There are some great deals available at non-Disney-owned hotels near Disney World. In this section we focus on the best of them, which we call the MouseSavers Preferred Hotels. We have negotiated special MouseSavers.com rates and collected specials and discounts on hotels that are reputable, convenient to the parks, and give you the most for your money. With insider knowledge and some planning, almost anyone can afford a very decent hotel in the Walt Disney World area.
Still haven’t found the perfect place to stay? On this page we provide even more ideas for getting a great deal on a hotel in the Orlando area, including special tips for military personnel and lots more.
Walt Disney World admission is expensive, and discounted Disney World tickets and passes can be hard to find. Disney tries to convince the public that the only place you can buy legitimate Disney World tickets is through “official” Disney outlets. That’s actually not true. We’ve collected a number of alternatives that will allow you to get a discount on new, unused, valid Disney World tickets — no timeshare scams, no partially used tickets, nothing illegal or shady.
There is also advice about how to get the most value out of your tickets, as well as information on the regular ticket prices.
Food and drink at Walt Disney World can literally “eat up” a huge portion of your budget. There are some discounts available for the restaurants at the Disney parks and resorts and you can save money by knowing a few tips and tricks, eating off-site, and finding Disney World dining deals and coupons.
This section covers discounts and special promotions for all kinds of Disney World activities, including tours, water parks, sports and driving experiences, boating, Splitsville, and more. If you want to experience some of the many “extras” beyond the park attractions, you should check out the link above.
Get great bargains and deals on all kinds of miscellaneous vacation-related items, including fun FREE and cheap things to do without going into the parks, plus ways to save on souvenirs, get stroller discounts and more!
Would you like to learn more about upcoming Walt Disney World special events and annual festivals in the theme parks, Disney resorts and Disney Springs? Check out this page for dozens of fun activities and experiences at Disney World.
We all know that a trip to Walt Disney World can be expensive, so maximizing your enjoyment of your vacation time is the smart thing to do! Who wants to spend the whole time standing in line or staking out that perfect spot for the parade? This section helps you plan a Disney World vacation more effectively, so that you truly enjoy your time there!
Get helpful answers to dozens of questions about Disney World, including the best times of year to go, how to pick the best tickets and get the best deals on Disney tickets, how to select the best Orlando accommodations, and lots more.
Shades of Green makes hosting special occasions easy, affordable and surprisingly stress-free for eligible guests and sponsors. With more than 15,000 square feet of flexible space, including the 7,500 square-foot Magnolia Ballroom, garden patio and versatile pre-function and breakout rooms, Shades of Green can accommodate virtually any meeting and occasion you can imagine.
UPDATED! Current News and Information About Travel to Disney World and Disneyland in 2021 | the disney food blog
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The house of mouse is the biggest and the most visited family-oriented entertainment complex in Orlando, Fl. It brings together four of the world’s most incredible and magically endowed theme parks in the world, including Magic Kingdom® Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, Epcot® and Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, plus two world-class water parks, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach. And if you want more Disney fun even while outside the parks, then head for Disney Springs – WDW’s one of a kind shopping, dining and entertainment district.
Magic Kingdom® Park is where the dreams come true for guests of all ages. It’s the ultimate family fun destination that Florida has to offer. Dotted with seven most enchanting areas and over 40 magical rides and attractions, the flagship Park is a storehouse of the world’s most enticing stories, ranging from classic Disney tales, to beloved character experiences, spectacular parades and firework shows, and much more. Crowned with the famous Cinderella Castle at one end of the Main Street USA, it brings to life the world of fairy tales unlike any other. With famous attractions such as the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarf Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Monsters, Inc., here you can have an experience of a lifetime.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park brings to you the largest and most magical representation of nature, populated with plenty of amazing creatures and wildlife adventures. With the giant tree (Tree of Life) as its centerpiece, the Park brings together epic jungle experiences, including trails, wildlife tours, special shows and night-time entertainment. Popular Animal Kingdom attractions include – Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, nightly entertainment such as Rivers of Light and, last but not the least, the incredible attractions and adventures inside Pandora – The World of Avatar.
Epcot® combines the best of both worlds – the amazing cultures and cuisine from across the continents at World Showcase and the yet to be conceived technological innovations of a Future World. The Park is a favorite haunt for food lovers and is host the world’s most anticipated foodie Event – the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Along with great culture and dining experiences, Epcot is home to some must-see attractions such as the Frozen Ever After Ride at the Norway Pavilion.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios® is where you will experience the magic of movies amidst an incredible array of rides, shows, adventures and special events with famous characters and personalities, heroes from your favorite movies and more. No other place on Earth celebrates Star Wars® like Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, where you’ll discover Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney’s biggest ever single-themed land expansion project. Another favorite is Toy Story Land, featuring attractions like Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania!
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park brings to life a watery wonderland where you experience the most slushy, slippery and exhilarating adventures ever. With some of the world’s tallest and fastest water slides, raft rides and more it offers you the most memorable water park experience ever. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is another favorite hangout among guests who love to get wet with plenty of fun and sun. With exhilarating water slides, surfing and more, it offers you a storm of fun and sun.
A Disney Theme Park Ticket option is enough to experience either of the parks, but if you have plans to visit other parks on the same day then go for the Disney Theme Park Ticket with Park Hopper® Option or the more extensive Disney Theme Park Ticket with Park Hopper® Plus Option that includes the water parks, as well. For visiting the Water Parks only, one can purchase the special water park tickets for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
Disney is not just 4 ever-expanding parks, but also includes 27 resort hotels (with plans for more), waterparks, and Disney Springs. The resorts range from simple to luxury where you can relax for a couple’s massage or take a boat ride from the resorts to the park. To make your trip extra special, reserve a table for two at one of the many restaurants before catching an evening performance of Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba. Whatever your mood and couple style, Walt Disney World fits like a glass slipper.
Many couples find both Disney and Universal Studios magical so why not enjoy both? With 8 days you can explore both while staying at the resort hotel of your choice or even a luxury hotel between the two. Start your honeymoon at Disney World, exploring the parks over 4 days. Stay at the Disney World Resort accommodations of your choice with a shuttle service to Universal Studios for 2 days.
Alicia put together our Honeymoon to Disney & Universal and we could not be happier. She got to know both of us so she knew just which hotel we would like the best, which restaurants we would like to eat at and even which parks to go to each day. She spent so much time making sure our honeymoon was the best. Thanks Alicia!
Melanie – Denver, CO
I am so excited to be helping you with your magical trip! I love Disney and I want my clients to experience that same delight, so I put my heart and soul into every client’s vacation. I maintain my Disney and Universal Destination Specialist Certification in order to provide my clients with up-to-date prices and info so they experience the most seamless, stress-free, and memorable trip possible. As your personal travel concierge, I provide restaurant recommendations, research which days have the lowest attendance, tips on how to navigate the parks, tell you which special events/tours are worth a splurge, and tons more. After 30+ years of visiting Disney and Universal, I have a wealth of knowledge that I love passing on to my clients.
While staying at an Airbnb will not get you all the benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort property, they get you close to the parks without the price tag. You can find resort accommodations, nearby private condos, or even glamping options.
Located next to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort which has a tranquil Lazy River, beautiful pool and private lake. You can find listings from the owners of the timeshare property regularly on Airbnb. About 10 minutes from the park is Vista Cay which also has resort amenities available.
Disney resorts are going to be more expensive than nearby hotels, so by looking only at the budget, you may think you want to stay outside of Disney. When you look into the benefits of staying at a Disney resort, you may find that it’s worth the extra money.
Extra Magic Hours – If you stay at a Disney resort, you are allowed to experience Extra Magic Hours. This is an hour before or after a park opens for the public where only resort guest are allowed in parks. This extra hour can mean several short lines to the most popular rides.
Fast Passes – Guests staying in a Disney Resort are able to book fast passes 60 days in advance, as opposed to 30 days in advance for everyone else. For the most popular rides, it can be difficult to get a Fast Pass if you don’t book within minutes of your 60-day mark.
Extra Disney Magic – A lot of extra Disney magic will happen at your resort, as compared to what happens in the parks. You may find surprises in your room or get a few extra fast passes, and you have many more dining options in the resorts.
Ease of Transportation – By staying at a Disney resort you can take a bus to get anywhere. Beyond that, you are always close to a Disney Park.
If you have the money, the Four Seasons is our top recommendation for a honeymoon stays at Disney for many reasons. The Four Seasons luxe rooms feature marble bathrooms, in-mirror televisions, and are the largest guest rooms by the square foot in Orlando. Honeymooners will enjoy the simple detail of having do not disturb buttons at the side of the Four Seasons bed. Out of the balcony, you will have a perfect view of the evening fireworks show. Here you will also find the only adult-only hotel at Disney.
The best part about staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is being in the middle of all the animals. From Savannah rooms, guests are able to see animals out in the fields. There are even viewing stations that include night vision binoculars.
For dining, there are several options with the most well known being Jiko – The Cooking Place. This fine dining restaurant serves African-style food cooked in wood burning ovens. For an extra-special night, you can book a meal and a safari together!
A more budget-friendly option, the Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, located in Disney Springs, has a cozy southern feel. You can stroll the quaint streets of the French Quarter, or the more rustic Riverside area, with tree-lined passageways and horse-drawn carriages. If you enjoy jazz music, the Scat Cat’s Club is a great lounge to visit.
The Rides Are Top Notch
The latest rides are even more thrilling but take strategy to visit without crazy lines. I’m talking about the new Avatar rides and Toy Story area. The Avatar Flight of the Passage ride may be the most thrilling ride I have ever been on but can be over 2 hours of wait time.
We love the thrilling roller coasters like Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom, Expedition Everest in the Animal Kingdom or Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster in Disney Hollywood Studios. Personally, I need a little variety so we enjoy the thrill rides mixed in with the other fun rides like the Splash Mountain, Test Track and Soarin. Then there are the classics like Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan that cannot be missed.
The Walt Disney World Resort is full of amazing restaurants and experiences. Within the park, you can enjoy unique treats and food events like the Food and Wine Festival. Last time we were there, we enjoyed all the small samples of food at Epcot.
If you are a foodie, take some time to research where you want to eat before you go. Victoria & Albert’s is a great option for fine dining, Ohana is a crowd-pleasing character meal with family style served Hawaiian themed meals and I think the best food in the parks is in the Animal Kingdom. Those are just a few places to start looking but keep in mind you need to make reservations in advance for many of the restaurants.
The honeymoon is a time to indulge and there are plenty of experiences you can try during your honeymoon. To relax, you should try a couple’s massage or take a boat ride from the resorts to the park. Make reservations at one of the restaurants with a good view of fireworks. Go for a horse-drawn carriage ride, or find a unique way to celebrate that is special for you.
You can enjoy a honeymoon at Disney almost at any time of the year due to the great weather in Orlando. Additionally, there are several other park and attractions in the area you can enjoy. You can also couple your Disney vacation with a trip to the beach or even a Honeymoon cruise.
Some of the rides have long lines all the time. You can schedule fast passes for these days to avoid lines. You can schedule rides for your honeymoon 60 days ahead of your trip if you are staying at a resort or 30 days for everyone else. If you do not get the rides you want, keep checking back. Last time I went to Disney World, we decided to go 2 weeks before the trip. I kept checking back to get Flight of the Passage fast passes and about 3 days before the trip the appeared!
A Disney Honeymoon can get expensive very quickly. First, figure out what is important to you and then try to make it work. Want to stay at one of the top resorts but can’t afford it? Consider starting your trip at a cheaper resort or even somewhere out of the park and then upgrade your accommodations for the last few days of your trip. You can also pick a few meals where you will splurge and others where you eat a salad from the grocery store in your hotel room. Think of creative ways to save money on some things so you can afford more expensive experiences you want.
Pass on park hoppers. If you are going to spend several days at Disney World, you may not need park hoppers. Save the money, and enjoy one park each day.
We can help you plan your honeymoon from start to finish making sure you get the best reservations available and the best deal. If you do not want to work with a Disney travel agent you can also join Disney World Facebook groups to help you plan your honeymoon. They are full of people who go to the park regularly and will help you with any question you have. Some splurge every trip while others stick to a tight budget. Do not be shy to ask questions, and to share your plans with the group. The seasoned Disney vets can really help you create the perfect plan and make sure you don’t miss any details.
There are so many options and ways you can enjoy your honeymoon at Disney. Discuss what you envision to make sure you are aligned with how you will spend your time. I personally am inclined to rush from ride to ride ensuring we do as much as possible. If you are like me, you need to make sure your spouse is ok with that. Then consider spending a few days more relaxed, you don’t even have to go into the parks every day.
Although your wedding might be in August, summer is Walt Disney World’s muggiest and most crowded season. Stick to early spring and mid-fall, and avoid holidays and school breaks in order to guarantee a less crowded and more romantic honeymoon. There is nothing wrong with having a honeymoon a few months after your wedding and going to Disney during the best time of year for you.
There’s so much to do at Walt Disney World. No one can see everything in one visit, but with a little planning (and scheduling in some downtime), you can spend your post-wedding days in bliss, not stress.
How long you stay is up to you. If you want to make sure you get in all tons of attractions and activities, you are going to need five days to a week. The good thing is that longer your stay, the cheaper park tickets become each day. With a week, you can go to one park each day, which is plenty of time to ride all the rides, see a show or two and relax. On days you are not at the parks you can enjoy the other many attractions at your resort or in the surrounding areas.
If you do not want to spend your whole honeymoon in Disney World, I recommend going for 2-3 days. This is enough time for you to hit many of the park highlights; just pick the attractions that matter most to you.
We went to Disney for 2 days and were able to ride almost all the main rides we wanted to at all the parks. There is so much more to see and do, but we got to do all the main stuff we cared about, except dinning experiences. We spent the rest of our time at other parks in the area.
The Disney Parks are famous for their unparalleled hospitality for each and every guest, but they really kick it up a notch for visitors who are celebrating a special occasion. Honeymooners are no exception. Make sure to tell cast members (Disney employees) why you’re taking this special trip, especially when you are booking your room, checking in, and making dining reservations.
You never know what little surprises await just around the river bend: free dessert, special ride, and parade perks, or maybe even a special phone call from Mickey Mouse – not to mention attention from guests and cast members congratulating you throughout your stay. I highly recommend you wear matching couples shirts to let everyone know it’s your Disney honeymoon. Not only will everyone know what you are celebrating but they make a great souvenir.
Honeymooning at Walt Disney World can be a lavish experience, and it’s easy for the expenses to add up. But there’s no need to wish upon a star: the Disney Honeymoon Registry helps your wedding guests fund the honeymoon of your dreams. By using this online service (complimentary for Disney Resort Hotel couples), your friends and family can choose gifts and experiences directly from a Disney honeymoon catalog, including dining and theater packages, park tickets, a carriage ride – even a VIP safari!
Tickets – Disney offers a variety of packages that bundle park tickets, room, dining, and transportation. Prices vary depending on date, park, season and rotating promotions. Contact us for the latest deals.
Photos -Want photographic souvenirs of your memories taken by pros? With a purchase of the Memory Maker package through Disney’s PhotoPass, you get unlimited downloads of your PhotoPass photos and videos, select attraction and character dining photos, discounts on prints, plus fun digital borders and stickers. Bring on the scrapbooking!
Dining -If you book through a Magic Your Way Package, make sure you add on the Disney Dining Plan. Once you choose your plan level (Quick Service, Dining, and Deluxe Dining), you are allotted a number of credits per day for snacks, quick service meals and table service meals, which are redeemable at most of the over 140 restaurants. If you know you’ll be taking advantage of the property’s wide variety of cuisines, this is a great way to let yourself sample the smorgasbord. One credit includes one entrée, one dessert and one drink, regardless of the listed price, making this the best value for eating well. Different resorts may offer different deals on dining plans, so be sure to compare your options if you book a Disney resort. And don’t forget to make reservations early (up to 180 days) so that you and your sweetheart can spend a candlelit night recreating the scene from Lady and the Tramp, and not waiting outside the California Grill for an hour getting hangry.
Of course, Disney is not the only player in the theme park game you should consider during your honeymoon in Orlando. Universal Studios is half an hour’s drive north toward Orlando and offers three theme parks, featuring a range of rides from zany to thrilling, plus the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If marine life floats your boat, SeaWorld Orlando is located about halfway between Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. With rides, live entertainment, and exclusive animal experiences, this wet and wild theme park is a fun way to beat the heat.
For a relaxing, but exciting day, you can spend a day a Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive day spa with dolphins swims, snorkeling a heated lazy river. You can also get a packaged price with other Sea World parks included.
If you need a day (or two) of peace away from the theme park whirlwind and the gleeful screams of children, consider renting a car and visiting one of the many suburbs of sprawling Orlando, such as Winter Park or Thornton Park, or visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral, just over an hour’s drive from Walt Disney World. For a saucy night out, attend Treasure Tavern Burlesque, Comedy & Dinner Show for an evening of adult entertainment with acrobatics, music, comedy acts, dancing, and world-class dining.
Need a beach day? Florida has more sandy shores than you can shake your sunscreen at. St. Pete Beach (2 hours from Walt Disney World) is a picture-perfect white sand beach on the Gulf with hotels, shopping, and water sports. For a more natural beach, visit Canaveral National Seashore (1.5 hours from Walt Disney World) – you may even spot nesting sea turtles on the shores of this National Park.
Walt Disney World can be overwhelming in the best of circumstances, so take it slow. Savor the details as you walk down Main Street. Smile at the giggling children. Sing along to the parades. Stand in awe under the fireworks. And fall in love all over again in the place where dreams really do come true.
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Amusement parks and resorts
Jeff Vahle (President)
The Walt Disney World Resort, commonly referred to as simply Walt Disney World or Disney World, is a Disney theme park resort located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, comprised of four theme parks, two water parks, twenty-three hotels, and many more recreational venues. The resort opened on October 1, 1971, with the Magic Kingdom theme park, and two hotels: Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
As in other Disney Parks, visitors to Walt Disney World are referred to as Guests and employees called Cast Members.
Three other theme parks were added over the years: EPCOT Center opened in 1982, Disney-MGM Studios in 1989, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998, and two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon in 1989, and Blizzard Beach in 1995.
In March 2020, Disney announced the temporary closure of both Disney World and Disneyland due to the coronavirus pandemic. Disney parks around the world, such as Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Shanghai Disneyland, have also closed due to the threat of the coronavirus to both guests and Cast Members.
Walt Disney World reopened on July 11 with the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom reopening the same day. EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened 4 days later on July 15. However, with the lingering threat of the COVID-19 virus, safety precautions have been put in place to protect guests and Cast Members from contracting or spreading the virus.
Walt Disney‘s concept for Disney World was of a larger, more expansive version of Disneyland so that it could constantly expand and not be as constrained by the need for land that Disneyland suffered from. Walt Disney World also was to be a sort of “Disneyland of the future” where breakthroughs in science and technology could coexist with the original Disney vision of themed entertainment. The resort’s original park, the Magic Kingdom, is the most-visited theme park in the world.
Walt Disney also envisioned this project as incorporating a working community where his ideas about urban planning could be tested. He called this concept the “Experimental Prototype Community (or City) of Tomorrow,” or EPCOT. The theme park that eventually opened under the EPCOT name bore little resemblance to this vision, though the neighboring planned community of Celebration, which was founded by the Walt Disney Company, incorporates a few of the ideas.
EPCOT had a model built which was displayed in the second floor of the Carousel of Progress attraction as Progress City which opened in Tomorrowland at Disneyland on July 2, 1967 and closed on September 9, 1973. After Carousel of Progress closed in Disneyland, E.P.C.O.T or Progress City could only be viewed from the Goodyear Peoplemover for a few weeks,when it was partially reassembled as a exhibit for the newly opened WEDWay Peoplemover (Now called the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover as of 2010) which is currently still there as a exhibit.
Although he participated in much of the planning for the project, Walt Disney himself died on December 15, 1966 and never got to see the realization of his vision. The resort was originally to be named “Disney World,” but before its opening Walt’s brother, Roy renamed it to “Walt Disney World” in his honor, and to remind everyone that it was Walt’s dream.
The land within Walt Disney World is part of the Reedy Creek Improvement District which allows the Disney Corporation to exercise quasi-governmental powers over the area.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort near Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney World has four major theme parks, each with a main landmark that serves as its symbol:
The Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney) area contains many shopping, dining, and entertainment venues, including DisneyQuest (a “virtual theme park” inside a building), and a permanent Cirque du Soleil show (La Nouba).
Another notable aspect is the large number of hotel resort complexes on the Walt Disney World property. The non-themed hotels are owned by private, non-Disney hospitality companies such as Marriott and Hilton. The themed resorts include:
The Walt Disney World resort also includes five world-class golf courses. The five 18-hole golf courses are the Magnolia, the Palm, Lake Buena Vista, Eagle Pines, and Osprey Ridge (the last two are part of the Bonnet Creek Golf Club). There are two miniature golf courses: Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland.
Walt Disney World paved the way for many other theme parks and attractions in the area, including Sea World and Universal Studios, and helped make Orlando a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world.
When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the Walt Disney World Resort employed about 5,500 cast members. Today it employs more than 65,000 cast members, spending more than $1.1 billion on payroll and $478 million on benefits each year. The largest single-site employer in the United States, Walt Disney World Resort has more than three thousand job classifications.
In a March 30, 2004 article in the Orlando Sentinel, Walt Disney World president Al Weiss gave some insight into how the parks are maintained:
There is a fleet of Disney-operated buses on property, branded Disney Transport, free for use by resort and park guests, though drivers rarely check. Two monorail lines also operate at Walt Disney World Resort: one links the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary and Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts, and the Transportation and Ticket Center (with an express track in the other direction, only stopping at the TTC and the Magic Kingdom); the other links Epcot and the Transportation and Ticket Center. A ferry line also operates on the Seven Seas Lagoon going from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom as an alternate route versus the monorail lines.
In 1959, WED Enterprises, under the leadership of Walt Disney, began looking for land for a second resort to supplement Disneyland, which had opened 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.
Walt Disney first flew over the Orlando, Florida site, one of many, on November 22, 1963. He saw the good road network, including Interstate 4 and Florida’s Turnpike, with McCoy Air Force Base, soon to become Orlando International Airport, to the east, and immediately fell in love with the site. When later asked why he chose it, he said, “the freeway routes, they bisect here.”
However, the decision had not been made yet; no land had been purchased. If the news of Disney’s new resort was leaked, land prices would soar. Thus everything was to be done in complete secrecy. To avoid a burst of land speculation, Disney used various dummy corporations and cooperative individuals to acquire 27,400 acres (111 square kilometers) of land. The first five-acre (20,000 square meters) lot was bought on October 23, 1964, by the Ayefour Corporation (a pun on Interstate 4). In May 1965, major land transactions were being 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 square meters) 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, being mostly swampland. Yet another problem was the mineral rights to the land, owned by Tufts College. Without the transfer of these rights, Tufts could come in at any time and demand the removal of buildings to obtain minerals.
After most of the land had been bought, the story was leaked to the Orlando Sentinel on October 20, 1965. A press conference was soon organized for November 15. At the conference, Walt Disney explained the plans for the site, including EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, which was to be a futuristic city.
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.
Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966. From then on, his brother Roy Disney headed the project. For the past few years that the project had been in pre-production, it had been known simply as Disney World, but Roy Disney added “Walt” to the name to make it Walt Disney World. In his own words: “Everyone has heard of the 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.”
On February 2, 1967, Roy Disney held a press conference 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 tax-free bonds, the Improvement District would have total 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.
The laws 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 The Walt Disney Company.
Construction of drainage canals was soon begun by the Improvement District, and Disney built the first roads and the Magic Kingdom. Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground were also completed in time for the park’s opening on October 1, 1971.
On opening day, Roy Disney gave an opening dedication, after which he asked Walt’s widow Lillian what she thought of Walt Disney World. She replied, “I think Walt would have approved.”
Disney’s “Magic Your Way” park ticket pricing, introduced in January 2005, is intended to make guests choose to spend more days on Disney property instead of visiting competing theme parks in the area; additional days at Disney can be much less expensive than a day at another park.
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“Magic Your Way” also offers options such as Park Hopper ($35 per ticket, allowing a guest to visit more than one park per day), Magic Plus Pack ($45 per ticket, giving a guest between 2 and 5 visits to water parks, Pleasure Island, DisneyQuest, or Disney’s Wide World of Sports), and No Expiration (between $10 and $55 per ticket, without which the ticket will expire 14 days after its first use).
Disney is also planning a service named “Disney’s Magical Express” whereby guests will be brought in Disney buses from the Orlando airport directly to their Disney resort, and their luggage will be picked up and brought to their room. The plan is to make a Disney vacation simple and convenient while making a visit to another local park such as Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld inconvenient.
This book series is written by Ridley Pearson. There are seven books in the series that take place in locations all around The Walt Disney World Resort. The following parks, resorts and other facilities inside Walt Disney World Resort appear in the books: