I am a second-generation Walt Disney World (WDW) fanatic. I was born in Florida, and went to WDW many times, and enjoyed the luxurious accommodations, and the exhilarating attractions and sumptuous food. The first time I went to WDW was with my parents and brother on October 9, 1971 at the age of six. I was in awe of the spectacular and vibrant colors of the buildings, and imagination-inspiring shops, rides and characters that I had encountered. Now, at that point, I was the eldest of two kids and my mother was pregnant with the third, my sister.
Donald Duck crept up behind my brother (Scott), then four, and tapped him on the shoulder. When Scott tuned around he screamed and ran the other direction from him and my father had to chase him down so Dad could get a picture of him and me with Donald Duck. To this day, we still tease Scott about his first encounter with Donald Duck. We then saw Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and the rest of the gang, but my brother went right up to them with no problem.
After our experience with Donald Duck, we wandered around the park and went into the shops on Main Street USA, like the Emporium, the Exposition Hall, the Main Street Cinema, Disney Clothiers, Main Street Athletic Club, Uptown Jewelers, Crystal Arts, The Chapeau, Confectionery, and the Main Street Gallery. We then went on rides that my brother and I were big enough to go on, like The Tea Cups, Dumbo and It’s a Small World, as our height was a factor. My father was able to ride all the rides that day that were available to the public.
We also went on the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and the Haunted Mansion, which, by the way, is scary for kids under six years of age. There were some glitches in the first few weeks of the opening of WDW with the food venues not being open and some of the attractions unable to open because of inspections, but overall it was a great experience while we were there. That day we had burgers and fries for lunch and dinner at the Tomorrowland pavilion, and stayed to watch the fireworks at the end of a perfect day.
This was the first of many memories of WDW that I have of all my visits to the Magic Kingdom. I started wondering at that point about Walt Disney and how he came to this idea of a talking mouse. Walt Disney’s fascination with cartooning started when he was a young boy in high school. He started graphic design, cartoon drawing, and story boarding in a correspondence school and then moved his studies to the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. He then moved to California in 1923 with his brother Roy Disney in pursuit of a cinematographic career.
Following the first talking movie The Jazz Singer, in 1928, Walt and Roy were the first to release an animated cartoon with sound; it was called Steamboat Willie (Walt Disney). Steamboat Willie’s main character was Mickey Mouse, who was an instant sensation with the public because this was the first time people had seen a talking mouse. With this revolution of filmmaking, Walt brought to life the fairytale creatures most of us grew up reading about. His first full length feature films were Snow White released in 1937, Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940, Dumbo in 1941, and Bambi in 1942.
These were embraced by the public at large and were hits as soon as they came to the big screen. Walt continued to produce many other major films and shorts until just before his death in 1966 (Walt Disney). Walt Disney always said, “My only hope is that we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse” (History of Walt Disney World). Mickey Mouse came to life in Steamboat Willie and has grown into the icon we love and know today. Who would have thought that in 1923 that a mouse could cause such a stir?
Mickey had become so well liked that Walt wanted to expand on the appeal that Mickey had, not only to children, but also to the adults that were young at heart. Walt Disney came up with the idea of a park where parents and children could have fun together (History of Walt Disney World), up until this point amusement parks were just aimed at teenagers to come and have fun. Disneyland was the first park of its kind for family fun, and was established in 1955 in Anaheim, CA, its success inspired Disney to start the ball rolling in 1964 on “The Florida Project” aka WDW.
Walt Disney died in December 1966, five years before the new park opened. Walt’s brother Roy Disney took over the operation of the Disney Corporation after Walt’s death; Roy realized his older brother’s dream and coordinated the building and sequentially the opening of Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971(History of Walt Disney World). When the park opened, it had the following attractions: The Magic Kingdom theme park, two hotels, one campground, a shopping village, one golf course, and the Monorail system.
Refer to the Magic Kingdom map to the left to see the layout of the park. That was only the beginning of the growth of WDW; and over the next quarter century, the WDW Corporation added numerous hotels, countless attractions, and daily parades. The Disney Corporation opened new parks such as EPCOT Center in 1982, which brought the world to the visitors by giving them the chance to see other cultures, such as Italy, France, and Germany, that most people would never get the chance to actually visit in their lifetime.
MGM Studios opened in 1989, which brought Hollywood to Florida for those that would never go to Hollywood in person. In 1998, Animal Kingdom opened to the public, which brought the Serengeti to life for the people that had only seen it on TV or in movies. With the opening of these parks, WDW had become the dream Walt was never able to see come to life. His family and friends have kept Walt’s dream alive and have made the park into one of Walt’s famous slogans, “The happiest place on earth”.
As a frequent visitor to WDW, I have my favorite activities, but I am here to tell you about the things that are at the Disney parks. If you were to go to Disney World what would you expect to see and do? Well first of all there are many places to stay on the WDW property like The Contemporary Hotel, Grand Floridian, The Polynesian, The Dolphin, The Swan, Wide World of Sports Complex, and The Pop Century Hotel. I personally enjoy the Wide World of Sports Complex. It is a bus ride away from the parks and you do not need to rent a car for the time that you are there.
There are also campsites on the WDW property, appropriately named The Fort Wilderness campground, but for those who do not like the great outdoors and what comes with it, and want indoor plumbing there is the Wilderness Lodge, with its comfortable cottages and hotel atmosphere, restaurant and the luxuries you would expect from a Disney hotel. A visitor will also find a wide array of food choices. The number of places to eat are so numerous that I will not be able to name them all in this paper, but they are as diversified in who they target to serve as they are in sheer number.
There is Chef Mickey’s, The Crystal Palace, The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre, The 50’s Prime Time Café, and the ABC Commissary, which are targeted at the school age kid’s, through the late teens (Disney Family. com). There are also high-end restaurants that cater more towards the adults, like the ones in the Resorts of The Grand Floridian and the Swan. Then, there are the eateries that cater to everyone that is hungry or famished while walking through the parks in WDW (WDW Dining). When you go to Disney World what would you expect to pay? What would you pay?
I conducted a survey with these and a few other questions, and the results were surprising to me. The results were as follows: •20% of the people surveyed have gone to WDW •around 75% of the people surveyed had not been to Disney in Orlando, FL, but 5% had been to Disneyland in California •85% of those who had not been would go if they had the chance •90% said they would pay around $3000 to go and stay for a week in the Disney parks. •For a family of four around $3000 is a reasonable amount to pay for a five night stay, including airfare and food.
All Parks passes: Ages 10 & Older $90. 53 USD •Ages 3 to 9 $84. 14 USD Value Hotel Accommodations: •Sports Complex Rooms start at $85 to $100 USD per night High end Accommodations: •The Grand Floridian and other high-end hotels start at $440 and go up to $2185 USD per night. Food is reasonably priced throughout the WDW resorts and parks, ranging from •$2 for a burger • $45 for a steak dinner • To around $100 for a lobster dinner. The majority of the people that went said they enjoyed The Magic Kingdom immensely, and the other parks that were there at the time they visited.
This was not a scientific survey, but it gave me the information I was looking for, in that most people would go if given the chance. There were a few that would not go at all, and all of the ones who had gone would go again and would take their family to experience the wonders of WDW. As I conducted the survey I was surprised some by the answers I got, because I know WDW well, and I was able to relate to those who had been there before. Of those who had been to WDW most of them had not been since they were younger, because of family matters or money issues.
Of those they would be willing to spend the money to take their kids to WDW to experience it as they did so many years ago. I believe that every person around the world should visit Walt Disney World Resort and Parks, and stay for a week to get the full effect of the parks. I also believe that his brother Roy did realize Walt’s dream, and that Walt got his wish that “The happiest place on earth” was built and is giving the generations of families a chance to come closer together, and have fun in a safe and secure environment.