Walt Disney World is the happiest place on earth, so you don’t have to try too hard to impress your kids while you’re vacationing there.
Still, there are a lot of features and fun extras that you’ll miss if you don’t pay attention. What’s more, pointing out all of the wonders in the parks and throughout the property just enhances the fun.
Good to Know
Some things aren’t just fun facts, but also useful tidbits of information to have as you prepare for your trip.
1. You can’t buy gum anywhere in Walt Disney World. Not in the parks, hotels, or other venues owned by Disney. They banned its sale many years ago to make the parks cleaner. You can chew your own, though.
2. Disney doesn’t often close its doors, which is why the Covid closures were so dramatic for Disney fans. Before the pandemic, Walt Disney World only closed three times: once in 1999 for Hurricane Floyd, once on September 11, 2001, and the last during a massive power outage.
3. In response to growing concerns about corporate impacts on the environment, the Disney Company bought about 12,000 acres of wetlands 15 miles south of their property and turned it into a preserve in an effort to offset some of the detrimental effects of the parks.
4. Did you know that you can go camping on Walt Disney property? Disney’s Fort Wilderness campgrounds have hundreds of sites on their 750-foot property. Camping enthusiasts rave about the wildlife and natural beauty, as well as the abundance of activities at Fort Wilderness.
5. Disney has a lot of control over Walt Disney World. The company formed the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is a special taxing district across two different Florida counties. After grappling with too much local government involvement in Disneyland, located in Anaheim, Walt did this on purpose.
6. When Walt envisioned his Florida project, he wanted what he didn’t have in California: space to expand. Even today, the Disney company owns acres and acres of undeveloped land, so they can keep on growing.
7. Going to Walt Disney World is a celebration by itself, but if you’re celebrating a special occasion–a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation, or anything else–stop by guest relations and pick up a button to let everyone know. You’ll get congratulations and well wishes everywhere you go!
8. Don’t pay for water! Any quick-serve restaurant will give you a cup of delicious ice water for free. Be sure to stay well-hydrated throughout your visit to make the most of your time.
Disney Facts and Figures
9. Walt Disney World has over 30,000 hotel rooms on its property. It would take you more than 80 years to stay in each one for one night. Given that Disney is constantly building more hotels, it’s probably an impossible task!
10. WDW is 50 square miles, making it twice the size of the island of Manhattan.
11. There are no buildings in Walt Disney World that are taller than 200 feet. Disney did this deliberately since buildings 200 feet and higher must be adorned with flashing lights for airline safety.
12. Look to your left and then to your right. The chances are good that you’ll see a trash can since you’re never more than 30 feet from one inside Disney theme parks.
13. Disney has seen some serious price hikes in its 50 years. When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, it cost only $3.50 to get in. That’s about the price of a bottle of water these days.
14. There are a lot more people willing to pay those prices today, too. While the Magic Kingdom averaged about 10,000 visitors daily, today, the parks host an average of 50,000 visitors every day.
15. With all the fun to be had in the parks, it seems to be expected that guests forget their personal items. More than 200 pairs of sunglasses show up in the parks’ lost and found every day.
16. It isn’t just shades, either. Some of the strangest items have included a glass eye and a prosthetic leg, both of which went unclaimed!
17. Let’s keep these fun lost and found facts going! Disney has recovered over a million pairs of sunglasses to date. Add that to 6,000 cell phones and 18,000 hats every year.
18. Disney guests love to eat the special treats they find in the parks. One of those is the iconic turkey leg, sold in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom, the America Pavilion in EPCOT, and various other locations throughout the parks. Guests consume more than 2 million pounds of turkey legs annually.
19. Walt Disney and his company purchased the Florida land on which the parks sit today for about $5 million.
20. Park-goers love their soda. The parks sell more than 75 million Coca-Cola products each year, compared to 13 million bottles of water.
21. If you’re lucky enough to visit Walt Disney World during the holiday season, you’re sure to be blown away by the beautiful decorations. As it turns out, Disney decorates more than 1,500 Christmas trees throughout Walt Disney World every year. That’s in addition to miles of garlands and millions of other decorations.
22. If you’re staying at the Yacht Club or Beach Club, you’re in for a real treat. Those resorts are home to the world’s largest sand-bottomed pool. It contains a whopping 750,000 gallons.
23. You’ll notice as you make your way through the parks how beautiful and green they are. About 12% of Walt Disney World is dedicated to gardens or green space. That’s about 4,000 acres or the equivalent of 3,000 football fields.
24. Disney visitors eat a lot of food to fuel their fun-filled fantasies. This includes (annually) 1 million pounds of watermelon, a half-million pounds of macaroni and cheese, 7 million hamburgers, and an astounding 2 million tons of ketchup.
25. All of that food doesn’t cook itself. Walt Disney World employs about 350 chefs in its various restaurants and quick-serve eateries.
26. Even though Disney has gone a long way in encouraging guests to re-use their sheets and towels throughout their stay, they still do an unbelievable amount of laundry per day, 285,000 pounds, to be exact. If you did one standard load of laundry each day, it would take you 52 years to get through that amount.
27. Approximately 20 million people visit the Magic Kingdom annually, making it the most well-attended theme park globally. That’s even more than Disneyland, the original Disney park in Anaheim, California.
28. Last but not least, for this section, do you know how many people visit Walt Disney World every year? The answer is about 150 million, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
29. Disney’s gardeners plant more than 3 million flowers and maintain about 2 million shrubs, 200 topiaries, and 13,000 roses throughout the property.
30. Wondering about all of those cast member uniforms? The costume department at Walt Disney World maintains about 1.2 million pieces of clothing. It averages out to about three costumes per cast member.
31. Since the parks opened in 1971, the Monorail, one of the most popular modes of transportation at the resort, has made enough voyages to go to the moon and back an astounding 30 times.
32. More than 60,000 cast members work at Walt Disney World, making it one of the largest employers in the world.
While You’re in the Parks
33. There are no bathrooms in Liberty Square. Disney left them out deliberately to preserve the 18th-century theme.
34. Speaking of Liberty Square, there’s a beautiful oak tree in the center of it. Acorns from that oak tree have been used to grow more than 500 additional trees.
35. Magic Kingdom is built two stories up. At ground level is a labyrinth of underground tunnels for cast members called Utilidors.
36. Cinderella’s Castle isn’t as big as it looks from the outside, but it is fit for a princess. Inside, you’ll find the Dream Suite, which is as opulent as it sounds. Accommodations in the Dream Suite are virtually impossible to book.
37. Cinderella’s Castle is also tougher than your average royal. It’s made from fiberglass and designed to withstand hurricane-force winds up to 125 miles per hour.
38. There’s a hat shop on Main Street called The Mad Hatter. Inside, you’ll find a payphone; pick it up and have a listen. You might catch something juicy.
39. The train used on the Disney World Railroad is an actual antique train originally built in 1910.
40. Disney goes above and beyond to create an immersive, exciting environment for guests. When you’re in the train station, take a look at some of the items left lying around. Some of your favorite characters may have left something beyond.
41. It may not be just the Haunted Mansion that has ghosts. Sadly, an Imagineer named George lost his life during the construction of Pirates of the Caribbean, and some cast members are convinced his spirit still lingers on the attraction. Some of them even wish him a good night before they close the attraction each night.
42. We all love to see Tinkerbell make her nightly flight during the Magic Kingdom fireworks, but it’s more complicated than it looks. For one thing, she has to have a significant amount of momentum to make it across that line. It also takes a particularly pixie-like cast member; because the costume and battery she wears weigh about 35 pounds, she herself can weigh no more than 95 pounds.
43. Do you remember riding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride? An old fan favorite, it was removed and replaced with the Winne the Pooh ride, but look for a tombstone for J. Thaddeus Toad in the Haunted Mansion graveyard.
44. Space Mountain is one of the park’s favorite attractions, and when it opened in 1975, real NASA astronauts attended. They were Scott Carpenter of Mercury 7, Gordon Cooper of Gemini 5 and Mercury 9, and Jim Irwin of Apollo 15.
45. The It’s a Small World attraction in Fantasy Land premiered at the 1964 World’s Fair. The original attraction is in Disneyland; the one in Walt Disney World is a copy. They were the first audio-animatronics ever used.
46. EPCOT was supposed to be two different parks, a World’s Fair showcase of other countries and cultures, and another focused on science, technology, nature, and exploration. But Disney put them together to form EPCOT.
47. According to Walt’s vision, EPCOT wasn’t supposed to be a theme park at all. He intended it to be an actual city where people would live and work. He hoped it would become a model for other cities, but this dream died with him in 1966.
48. There’s a reason why guests underneath Spaceship Earth stay dry during rainfalls. The giant sphere was designed this way on purpose, and the rain flows to fill fountains in the park.
49. No trip to EPCOT is complete without seeing the Living Seas. This aquarium is the second largest in the country, the first being the Georgia Aquarium. It contains 5.7 million gallons of water.
50. Don’t miss the attraction Living with the Land, where you’ll get a small glimpse of Disney’s greenhouses. Disney grows more than 30 tons of produce for its restaurants every year.
51. When you visit the different countries in the World Showcase, pay attention to the hometowns of the cast members. Disney staffs the countries with its nationals to create a more immersive experience.
52. While the flags flown throughout the parks are usually fake, one of them is not. There is an American flag taken from the rubble of the Twin Towers after the attacks on 9/11/01 on display in the America Pavilion.
53. Mission Space is one of the most thrilling attractions in the world. It takes more computer power than the real NASA space shuttle to operate it.
54. Test Track is another thrill attraction at EPCOT, and it’s the fastest ride at Walt Disney World, with top speeds of 65 miles per hour.
55. This park wasn’t always called Hollywood Studios. It used to be called Disney-MGM Studios.
56. Before it was a theme park, Hollywood Studios was an actual, working movie and television studio.
57. One of the television shows filmed at these studios was the 1990s reboot of the Mickey Mouse Club, which starred Christina Aguillera, Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake, to name a few.
58. As you approach the Tower of Terror attraction, you’ll hear the formidable sounds of other guests screaming. Don’t be deceived; while certainly riders scream all day long on that ride, the screams you’re hearing might be pre-recorded.
59. Rock ‘N Roller Coaster runs right nearby the Tower of Terror and features the music of Aerosmith. They weren’t the first choice, though; that honor belongs to none other than U2, with whom Disney’s negotiations fell through.
60. The lake used for the Fantasmic might look cavernous, but it’s actually only about one foot deep.
61. Rock ‘N Roller Coaster is Walt Disney World’s first roller coaster that goes upside down, and the company’s first roller coaster synched to a soundtrack.
62. Looking for a place to cool down in the park? Find the Singin’ in the Rain lamppost and umbrella. Stand on the pad on the ground and find yourself caught in a rain shower.
63. When Disney built the animal sanctuaries for Animal Kingdom, they incorporated natural barriers whenever they could to eliminate the need for fences. What you see as a water feature or ditch, an animal sees as an insurmountable obstacle.
64. The Tree of Life, which is the park’s centerpiece, is built out of an upside-down oil rig.
65. You can’t get plastic straws or plastic drink lids in Animal Kingdom. Disney prohibits these items for the safety of the animals in the park, so it’s for a good cause.
66. The highest peak on Expedition Everest is 199 feet tall. As mentioned above, no buildings in Walt Disney World stretch to 200 feet to avoid donning those un-magical red lights that alert airplanes.
67. If you really want to wow your family members, schedule a nighttime safari adventure. Not only will you see the thrilling nocturnal animals of Harambe Wildlife Preserve, but you’ll enjoy a specially chef-curated meal complete with adult beverages for mom and dad.
68. When you ride Expedition Everest, be sure to notice the Yeti near the end of the ride. He’s still now, but he used to come alive and reach down for riders in a terrifying swoop. His audio-animatronic features stopped functioning, and it would require a complete shutdown of the ride for a substantial period to fix him, so for now, we’ll have to go without. The hydraulic cylinders that used to animate him are more powerful than that of a 747 jet engine.
69. No visit to Animal Kingdom is complete without seeing Pandora, which is lavishly decorated. Keep an eye out for natural plants throughout the land. There are 10,000 real shrubs and more than 500 real trees throughout the magical area.
70. There’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the queue area of the Dinosaur attraction, but it isn’t real. That said, it is an exact replica of the most giant T-rex skeleton ever uncovered. Her name is “Dino-Sue.”
71. One of the most fun things to do while you’re in the parks is search for “Hidden Mickeys.” A Hidden Mickey is an outline of Mickey’s head (two smaller circles for the ears perched atop a larger circle for the head) that designers subtly incorporated into the surrounding decor. That means that they aren’t immediately noticeable.
72. What do you think happens to all the trash guests generate in the parks and on Disney property? It turns out that Disney has a vast underground waste processing plant that sorts trash and sends it on its way to recycling centers and landfills.
73. You can get married at Disney World! In fact, approximately 1,600 couples make their vows there every year.
74. When Walt Disney decided to build a theme park in Florida, he fretted that prices would skyrocket as soon as word got out that he was buying land. Therefore, he and his associates created several companies with non-descript names to elude local real estate moguls.
75. If all of the American flags in the parks start to make you feel patriotic, look more closely; they’re not actual flags. Each is missing a star and stripe. Disney did this deliberately to avoid the required rituals that surround conventional flag raising and lowering. They didn’t want to disrespect the actual American flag by not following those customs.
76. It’s perfectly possible to visit the parks and never see Mickey or Minnie in the same outfit. Mickey has well over 200 costumes, including a scuba suit and a tuxedo. Minnie has about 200 of her own so that they can step out in style together.
77. Kids, don’t try this on your vacation: many people attempt to spread their loved one’s ashes in Disney parks every year. While Disney doesn’t publish exact figures, suffice it to say that it’s a big enough problem for them to have a special vacuum and cleaning procedures for when it happens.
78. While Walt Disney personally selected the site for the Florida parks and visited the region several times, he never stepped foot in any of the completed parks. He died in 1966 from lung cancer, five years before Magic Kingdom opened.
79. The first hotels built at Walt Disney World were the Polynesian Village Resort and the Contemporary Resort. They were actually built off-site, and the rooms were assembled by crane.
80. Mickey Mouse was the first animated character to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California. Minnie Mouse also has one, and there are replicas in Hollywood Studios.