Walt Disney World is known as the “Vacation Kingdom” and “The Most Magical Place on Earth”. The centerpiece is most certainly the Magic Kingdom, the most popular theme park in the world, with over 18 million guests per year. The young and the young at heart are enchanted and captivated by the sights, sounds and smells of this “Magic Kingdom”. Here are 20 unbelievable facts that will astound you!
1) The Magic Kingdom opened as the first part of Walt Disney’s planned Florida Project on October 1, 1971. Adult admission was $3.50. The park opened with 23 attractions, three unique to the park and 20 copies of attractions at Disneyland. *Extra fact: Walt Disney had passed away almost 5 years earlier, in December of 1966.
2) At the time of it’s opening, the Magic Kingdom was the only park at Walt Disney World. It opened concurrently with two hotels on the property: Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
3) One day at Disneyland in California, Walt Disney saw a Frontierland character walking through Tomorrowland. This mixing of themes bothered him. When the Magic Kingdom was built, tunnels (called utilidors) were built on the ground level to allow cast members to move around the park out of sight of guests. The Magic Kingdom was then built on the second level. Soil from excavating Seven Seas Lagoon (the man-made lake in front of the Magic Kingdom) was used to “build up” the ground level for the construction of the Magic Kingdom.
4) Main Street USA was inspired by Marceline, Missouri, where Walt Disney’s family lived from 1906-1910. Walt never forgot Marceline and Marceline never forgot Walt. On October 13, 1960, the new elementary school was christened “Walt Disney Elementary.”
5) The Magic Kingdom, like Disneyland, is set up in a “hub and spoke” design, so that guests can have a good point of reference while touring the park. The hub is located in front of Cinderella Castle, and fans out to six different lands. Those lands are Main Street USA, Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Frontierland is the only one not directly connected to the hub. Guests enter Frontierland through Adventureland or Liberty Square.
6) The Magic Kingdom spans 107 acres, larger than Disneyland, but smaller than Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
7) Herb Ryman, a Disney artist, designed Cinderella Castle. He was inspired by some of Europe’s most stunning castles, including Neuschwanstein Castle in southwest Bavaria, Germany. *Extra fact: Cinderella’s Castle is made from no stones at all (even though they appear to be stones for the outside walls). The entire castle is actually made out of fiberglass.
8) An architectural technique called “forced perspective” was used on most of the buildings in the Magic Kingdom, including Cinderella Castle. As the building gets taller, its width gets smaller, which gives those looking up the feeling that the building is higher than it is.
9) Space Mountain was the first ride to debut at Disney World before coming to Disneyland. *Extra fact: Astronauts Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper and Jim Irwin were present at the grand opening of Space Mountain in 1975.
10) Both the Carousel of Progress and It’s A Small World made their debut at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.
11) The Hall of Presidents was inspired by Disneyland’s “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln”, which premiered at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.
12) For many years, there was another “land” in the Magic Kingdom. Mickey’s Toontown Fair, featuring both Mickey and Minnie’s houses, was also known as both Mickey’s Birthdayland and Mickey’s Starland. Access was through Fantasyland.
13) In 1996, to celebrate the Magic Kingdom’s 25th anniversary, Cinderella’s Castle was redesigned to look like a birthday cake. Guest reaction was mostly negative.
14) The Tomorrowland Transit Authority was originally called the WEDway People Mover (WED being the initials for Walter Elias Disney).
15) Splash Mountain was inspired by the 1946 Disney movie, “Song of the South”.
16) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland is based on Monument Valley, Arizona and features six trains: I.B. Hearty, I.M. Brave, I.M. Fearless, U.B. Bold, U.R. Daring and U.R. Courageous.
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Disney travel deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius! Discover More >
17) There are 4 meticulously restored, working narrow-gauge trains you can ride around the Magic Kingdom, all originally built between 1916 and 1928. They are the Walter E. Disney, named after Walt Disney, the Lilly Belle, named after Walt’s wife, Lillian, the Roy O. Disney, named after Walt’s brother and business partner, and the Roger E. Broggie, named after an original Imagineer who led the railroad project at the Walt Disney World Resort.
18) The 60-foot-tall Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland weighs approximately 200 tons and is made of concrete and thousands of polyethylene leaves.
19) The hearse in front of the Haunted Mansion was used in the John Wayne movie, “The Sons of Katie Elder”.
20) In Adventureland, Pirates of the Caribbean inspired the Johnny Depp movies of the same name, which further inspired the Disney imagineers to renovate and add several characters from the movies, such as Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa, to the attraction.
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper