Walt Disney World in Orlando – An American Tourist Spot in American City
The Walt Disney World Resort, also called Walt Disney World and Disney World, is an entertainment complex in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, in the United States, near the cities Orlando and Kissimmee. Opened on October 1, 1971, the resort is owned and operated by Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, a division of The Walt Disney Company. It was first operated by Walt Disney World Company. The property, which covers nearly 25,000 acres (39 sq mi; 101 km2), of which only half has been used, comprises four theme parks (consisting of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), two water parks, 27 themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, several golf courses, a camping resort, and other entertainment venues, including the outdoor shopping center Disney Springs.
Designed to supplement Disneyland, in Anaheim, California, which had opened in 1955, the complex was developed by Walt Disney in the 1960s. “The Florida Project”, as it was known, was intended to present a distinct vision with its own diverse set of attractions. Walt Disney’s original plans also called for the inclusion of an “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT), a planned community intended to serve as a test bed for new city-living innovations. Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966, during construction of the complex. Without him spearheading the construction, the company built a resort similar to Disneyland, abandoning the experimental concepts for a planned community. Magic Kingdom was the first theme park to open in the complex, in 1971, followed by Epcot (1982), Disney’s Hollywood Studios (1989), and Disney’s Animal Kingdom (1998).
Today, Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with average annual attendance of more than 52 million. The resort is the flagship destination of Disney’s worldwide corporate enterprise and has become a popular staple in American culture.
Much of Walt Disney’s plans for his Progress City were abandoned after his death and after the company board decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a city. The concept evolved into the resort’s second theme park, EPCOT Center, which opened in 1982 (renamed EPCOT in 1996). While still emulating Walt Disney’s original idea of showcasing new technology, the park is closer to a world’s fair than a “community of tomorrow”. One of EPCOT’s main attractions is their world’s showcase which highlights 11 countries across the globe. Some of the urban planning concepts from the original idea of EPCOT would instead be integrated into the community of Celebration much later. The resort’s third theme park, Disney-MGM Studios (renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2008), opened in 1989 and is inspired by show business. The resort’s fourth theme park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, opened in 1998.
George Kalogridis was named president of the resort in December 2012, replacing Meg Crofton, who had overseen the site since 2006.
On January 21, 2016, the resort’s management structure was changed, with general managers within a theme park being in charge of an area or land, instead of on a functional basis as previously. Theme parks have already had a vice-president overseeing them. Disney Springs and Disney Sports were also affected. Now hotel general managers manage a single hotel instead of some managing multiple hotels.
On October 18, 2017, it was announced that resort visitors could bring dogs to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
The Florida resort is not within Orlando city limits but is southwest of Downtown Orlando. Much of the resort is in southwestern Orange County, with the remainder in adjacent Osceola County. The property includes the cities of Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake which are governed by the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The site is accessible from Central Florida’s Interstate 4 via Exits 62B (World Drive), 64B (US 192 West), 65B (Osceola Parkway West), 67B (SR 536 West), and 68 (SR 535 North), and Exit 8 on SR 429, the Western Expressway. At its founding, the resort occupied approximately 30,500 acres (48 sq mi; 123 km2). Portions of the property have since been sold or de-annexed, including land now occupied by the Disney-built community of Celebration. Now the resort occupies nearly 25,000 acres (39 sq mi; 101 km2).
- Magic Kingdom, opened October 1, 1971
- Epcot, opened October 1, 1982
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios, opened May 1, 1989
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom, opened April 22, 1998
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, opened June 1, 1989
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach, opened April 1, 1995
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