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10 Crazy Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World

By Gillian Telling
September 27, 2019
Seven Dwarfs perform with castle in background
Sunflower6000/Dreamstime
From Disney World's sheer size to its sustainability efforts and some of its best-kept secrets, here are 10 fun facts about the Happiest Place on Earth.

Walt Disney sure had some grand plans when it came to building the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida. He not only wanted it to be a fun theme park, but also to include an experimental prototype community of tomorrow (EPCOT) that would be a real working futuristic city, utilizing the latest push-button technology a la The Jetsons. The visionary sadly died in 1966, several years before Disney World opened in 1971, and EPCOT eventually just became another theme park incorporated into the larger resort in 1982. But did you know it was once meant to actually be lived in? Below are a few other fun facts that you might never have guessed about the Happiest Place on Earth.

1. It's huge

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(Puppie2008/Dreamstime)

The size of the entire Walt Disney World resort is 40 square miles, or the size of San Francisco. You heard me. The same size as the city of San Francisco. Needless to say, that dwarfs other U.S. theme parks.

2. They have a lot of employees

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(Paul Brewster/Dreamstime)

It's not easy keeping the magic alive. Disney World employs nearly 70,000 people, making it the largest single-site employer in the country.

3. Loads of sunglasses are lost every day

Every single day, an average of 210 pairs of sunglasses are turned in to the incredible Lost and Found department at Disney World. Good luck sifting through that pile if your aviators go missing over in Toon Town.

4. People love turkey legs

Giant turkey legs were first introduced at Disney World the 90s, and became such a popular item that they were quickly introduced to the other parks. More than 2 million turkey drumsticks are consumed at Disneyland and Disney World every year, and you can even buy all sorts of gear (t-shirts, hats, etc.) with pictures of turkey legs on them.

5. They practice sustainability

Who would have thought? More than 30 tons of fruits and vegetables are grown each year at EPCOT's Land Pavilion and used in the resort's restaurants and cafes.

6. Liberty Oak gets around

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(Michael Gordon/Dreamstime)

The Liberty Oak, which stands in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, has spawned over 500 young oak trees via its harvested acorns.

7. There's a hotel suite inside Cinderella's Castle

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(Michael Gordon/Dreamstime)

There's a hotel suite tucked away in Cinderella's Castle that can sleep up to six and has flat-screen TV disguised as magic mirrors. Unfortunately, you can't just make a reservation – overnight guests are winners that are chosen at random by the park each day.

8. The price of tickets has increased over 400% (adjusted for inflation) since opening

When Disney's Magic Kingdom first opened in 1971, adult admission cost $3.50. Today, it's over $120.

9. The resort is basically its own functioning city

Walt Disney's dreams of the "city of tomorrow" never came to fruition, but the entire resort is sort of it its own self-governing city, complete with its own fire departments and emergency services.

10. It's (sort of) eco friendly

Fifteen miles south of Disney World is the Disney Wilderness Preserve, which is a 12,000-acre wetlands mitigation project that Disney company bought it in the 90s. Disney provides funds for restoration and wildlife monitoring in order to offset the lands impacted by the development of Walt Disney World. Fair enough.

("10 Crazy Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World" was originally published on January 22, 2013 and was updated to reflect current prices and other data and statistics on September 24, 2019.)

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This will save you time and allow you to maximize the number of attractions you can ride throughout the day.” MEALS AT DISNEYLAND On our July visit to Disneyland, my family and I packed snacks and a light lunch, and grabbed a nice off-hours meal (around 4p.m.) at the Mexican cantina in Frontierland, which, on the day of our visit, was the least crowded of the park’s lands. “I’m not sure if Frontierland is regularly less crowded,” says Linda M., “but I like the strategy of eating at non-peak meal times. This is always a great idea to ensure you aren’t fighting the masses. I also suggest that people scope out restaurants for seating areas that might not be immediately in the line of sight. Many eateries are larger than what they seem and sometimes you can secure a secluded and quiet table if you just venture around the corner or go upstairs. My favorite is Flo’s V8 Café in Cars Land in Disney California Adventure Park. 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Take a close look at the plates on the table the next time you take a ride on a Doom Buggy!” Savor Disney history. Sure, you’ll love the thrill rides like Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and Indiana Jones, but don’t forget to immerse yourself in some of the park’s history and classic mid-century kitsch. My family loved the Dumbo ride, the Enchanted Tiki Room (where audioanimatronic tropical birds croon), the iconic Snow White wishing well beside Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and, of course, Main Street. “My daughter happens to love just about every attraction at the Disneyland Resort,” says Linda M.. “Some of the classics like It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean are among her favorites. She doesn’t realize the history behind them, she just marvels in the Disney magic that is presented around every turn in these attractions. The history at Disneyland is one of the things that makes it special. After all, here, you can walk where Walt walked. You can order some of Walt’s favorite dishes at restaurants, ride attractions today that originally opened with the park in 1955, and marvel at all the joy and magic that this place still holds.” Take a break. It may seem counterintuitive, considering how much time and money you’ve invested in your Disneyland visit, but taking a break midday is one of the best survive-and-thrive theme park strategies. “Absolutely!” agrees Linda M. “Taking midday breaks is a necessity for our family! As I mentioned before, we like to start early – sometimes as early as 7:00 a.m. So by the afternoon we are ready for a nap or some relaxing in the pool. After a short respite, we are usually ready to head back to the parks for dinner and nighttime entertainment. Additionally, we always stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels which means heading back to the room for a break couldn’t be easier – each hotel is just a short walk from the parks. 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If you are staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, it’s possible to score a room with a view of the fireworks or if you are enjoying a meal at Catal or Tortilla Jo’s in the Downtown Disney District, the fireworks can be partially seen from those patios." Enjoy short (or nonexistent) late-night lines at popular rides. "Experiencing short queues late at night is pretty normal," says Linda M., "but something most younger families aren’t able to take advantage of. For those with older kids who would love nothing more than to stay up late, this could be a really effective strategy. After (or even during) the fireworks, most families will exit the park. But if you are able to stay until closing time, you will be able to walk right in to a lot of attractions.”

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