Monday, February 22, 2010

The Magic Kingdom’s History

by Erin Santamaria
toll free 877-377-0505

The Magic Kingdom - Everyone knows what it is. It’s THE theme park at Walt Disney World…the original park…the first one built. It’s “The Most Magical Place On Earth” for children and adults alike. But have you ever wondered about the history of the Magic Kingdom? If you’re anything like me, you would find it interesting to know some of the ins and outs of the park.

Walt Disney worked for many years on “The Florida Project”. Wanting to build a park bigger and better than Disneyland, he focused on how he could improve on its design. Building underground tunnels (utlidors) was the most important improvement to Disney. Unlike Disneyland, cast members could use the utilidors to walk freely and get around the park…unseen by the guests. Disney felt it ruined the “illusion” for guests to see such things as garbage collection, food delivery and costumed cast members cutting through the different lands of the park. Because of Florida’s high water table, the utilidors could not be built underground as planned(every hold dug filled with water). They had to be on ground level, forcing them to build the Magic Kingdom on the second story. That’s right, the Magic Kingdom is “upstairs”!

I have taken a tour of the Magic Kingdom where guests were allowed guided access to parts of these tunnels. Aside from food delivery and garbage collection, there are also many offices and cafeterias underground. You would be surprised to know just how much action is going on down there during the course of the day.

Sadly, Walt Disney did not live to see the completion of his project. He did not see the opening of the Magic Kingdom, as well as the Contemporary Resort and the Polynesian Resort (collective known as Walt Disney World), in 1971. With twenty-three attractions and six themed lands on opening day, the Magic Kingdom has more than doubled it attractions and now has 7 themed lands. Shaped like a bicycle wheel with the center right in front of Cinderella’s Castle, the pathways to these lands branch out like spokes across 107 acres.

To say there was much attention to detail in designing the Magic Kingdom would be the biggest understatement I could make. It’s amazing how truly different each and every land is from the other. It was Disney’s intention to take guests to another world upon entering each one.

Main Street USA was inspired by Walt Disney’s childhood and has an early 20th century America décor. Walking down Main Street is very symbolic to guests as this is the first glimpse many get of Cinderella’s Castle, which is at the very end of Main Street.

Adventureland is themed after the jungles of Asia, the Middle East, South America and the South Pacific. It is the home of Pirates of the Caribbean, many people’s favorite attraction in WDW.

Frontierland is very much like the Wild West. It’s home to cowboys, Indians, Goofy in a cowboy hat and spurs…
Liberty Square is meant to resemble colonial America. Here is where you’d find the very popular Haunted Mansion attraction, a replica of the Liberty Bell and Liberty Tree.

Being in Fantasyland is like being at a medieval carnival. The entrance to this land is through the castle. This is where the attractions are based on such Disney Classic movies as Snow White, Peter Pan and Dumbo (among many others). Fantasyland is a child’s dream come true (and mine, although I’m just a tiny bit older than a child). In late 2009, it was announced that Fantasyland will expand to include more Disney Princesses, Disney Fairies and a Dumbo area with a 3-ring circus. It’s expected to be finished by 2013 and I can’t WAIT!

Tomorrowland offers a peak into the future. This intergalactic land is home to Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain and the Astro Orbitor.

At first, Mickey’s Toontown Fair was supposed to be temporary. However, it was so popular that it was made permanent Have you ever wondered where Mickey and Minnie live? You’ll find their houses here…but not for long. This area will soon be demolished to make room for the huge expansion in Fantasyland. Never fear, Mickey & Minnie won’t be homeless, they’ll just have a new Magic Kingdom address.

To give a complete description of the park, I’d have to write a book…maybe even several. If you’ve never been to the park, or haven’t in some time, it’s time for a visit! The Magic Kingdom is my favorite park. I spend at least 2 days there when visiting WDW…sometimes even 3. I’ve known people to visit Florida just for a weekend and only visit the Magic Kingdom. If you are interested, contact me for information on a truly magical experience. Once you’ve been, you will see just why the Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world.

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