The Most Frequent Walt Disney World Questions
All first-time Walt Disney World guests have plenty of questions. Sometimes, you may feel overwhelmed to the point that you’re not quite sure what to ask. Starting today, I’m going to try to help with this new series. Here are answers to some of the most frequent Walt Disney World questions.
What Are the Disney World Theme Parks?
The Walt Disney World complex resides in Orlando, Florida. It includes four theme parks, two water parks, two entertainment districts, and a sports complex.
The four theme parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The water parks are Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, while the entertainment complexes are the BoardWalk and Disney Springs. Finally, the sports complex is ESPN Wide World of Sports.
In order of popularity, the parks are Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. However, I should mention that Hollywood Studios has experienced an attendance surge due to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. As for the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon is slightly more popular than Blizzard Beach, but the difference is minor.
When Is Walt Disney World’s Birthday?
Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971. This date is important for several reasons. Currently, it matters the most because the 50th anniversary is less than two years away.
On October 1, 2021, Walt Disney World will host several ceremonies embracing its half-century of dominance. Also, Disney will celebrate the 50th anniversary in other ways throughout the year. So, 2021 becomes a time when you absolutely must visit Walt Disney World. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on an experience the likes of which we won’t see again until 2071.
Why Was Walt Disney World Built?
Sadly, the person who could best answer this question didn’t live long enough to witness the opening of Walt Disney World. During the mid-1960s, Walt Disney dared to plan a new project barely 10 years after Disneyland’s opening.
While planning multiple pavilions for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Uncle Walt settled on Orlando as the best place for his dream project. He wanted to create a capitalist utopia, a futuristic city where commerce and technology meshed together perfectly.
Disney purchased a bunch of cheap swampland in Florida, a story I detail in one of my books, Disney Demystified Volume 2. Unfortunately for him, an enterprising reporter deduced his plan and thereby cost him a lot of money.
The last batch of acres that he bought for his Florida Project was exponentially more expensive than the ones that he acquired in secret. Once guests learned that Walt Disney was the buyer, they raised their asking prices dramatically. This delay proved devastating to Disney, who died in 1966, only months after announcing his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
For this reason, the earliest plans for Walt Disney World never came to fruition. Rather than a city based on commerce and innovation, the company had to change plans in the wake of its founder’s death.
To finance the other parts of the planned community, Disney constructed a revenue-generating theme park, Magic Kingdom. Eleven years later, Epcot arrived, but it bore little similarity to what Uncle Walt had envisioned. It’s still pretty great, though.
Which Walt Disney World Theme Park Is the Largest?
This is one of my favorite trivia questions. Logically minded people can deduce the answer, but quick responses are usually wrong. Most people instinctively answer that Magic Kingdom is the largest. Alas, it’s 142 acres, which is much larger than Disneyland but still not the largest theme park at Walt Disney World.
Hollywood Studios is actually the smallest Disney theme park in Orlando at 135 acres. Even after the recent expansion of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, it’s still a few acres short of Magic Kingdom. Meanwhile, the second-largest theme park is Epcot, which claims 305 acres.
By the process of elimination, you can tell that Animal Kingdom is the largest theme park. Its scale may stun you, though. This park is 580 acres. Yes, you can almost fit the three other parks into Animal Kingdom! They’re a combined 582 acres. Disney constructed Animal Kingdom with so much space to allow the animals plenty of room for their habitats.
How Big Is Walt Disney World?
This answer may also surprise you. I just mentioned four theme parks that take up a total of 1,162 acres of space. That’s only a fraction of the overall Walt Disney World campus, though.
The Walt Disney Company currently owns more than 30,000 acres in Orlando, and they’re frequently expanding. In late 2018, the company added another 965 acres of ranch land. The following month, Disney bought another 1,575 acres that it had coveted for 50 years.
At a minimum, Disney holds 32,500 acres of land in Florida, but it’s probably even more substantial. Not all of the company’s purchases receive publicized disclosures, even though each one eventually becomes a matter of record. That’s more than 50 square miles of landholdings.
When Is the Walt Disney World Offseason?
You’re not going to like this answer, but there really isn’t one these days. Thanks to intelligent park planning, corporate officials have enticed guests to visit during all times on the annual calendar. Even the least crowded park days at Walt Disney World would rival the most crowded days at lesser theme parks. Thankfully, due to the massive size of each park, it’s rarely noticeable, though.
Historically, January and September are the months with the smallest amount of park traffic, with October the next-emptiest period. To an extent, January is still the best time to go to Walt Disney World, as the crowds are generally lightest then. Plus, you get to escape the harsh winter climate where you live to bask in the Florida sun for a while.
The most crowded times are holidays, especially July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas week. Any major holiday in North America will lead to increased traffic at Walt Disney World, but those three holidays could include sellouts at Magic Kingdom.
A sellout is when Disney begins a phased entrance to the parks rather than admitting everyone at once. Anytime from December 20th through January 2nd could have sellouts, especially December 26th through the 30th.
Another crowded time on the annual calendar is Spring Break. While every school system works differently on Spring Break dates, the overall pattern from a Disney perspective is set in stone. From late February through mid-April, park traffic surges.
In recent years, Disney has introduced surge pricing. I mention this because it’s a useful tool to determine anticipated crowd traffic at a specific time of year. When tickets are cheapest, Disney expects the smallest amount of traffic. When tickets cost the most, park planners project huge crowds.
The prices go up to act as a deterrent for casual Disney fans who could just as easily visit at a less crowded time of the year. It’s an effective system that has kept park traffic patterns relatively stable.
Which Walt Disney World Theme Park Is Best?
Which of your children do you love the best? Do you have a favorite pet that you love more than the rest? Which of your family members would you save if all of them suddenly needed a kidney? I’m asking you these hopefully rhetorical questions to make a point. The answer depends on the person, and it also depends at least somewhat on your most recent experience(s) at a park.
Personally, I’m an Epcot guy. I visited during the first year that the park was open, and I fell in love with it as a kid. Those early experiences encouraged me to learn more about the world around me, just as Walt Disney had intended at his theme parks.
However, I believe that numbers don’t lie. The most popular park is the best park for the majority of people. Everyone votes with their wallet, after all. So, I would expect more votes for Magic Kingdom than the other three parks. Star Wars fans would probably vote for Hollywood Studios, though. Fans of nature and parents with small, inquisitive children would throw votes to Animal Kingdom. And foodies and futurists would answer Epcot.
I honestly don’t think there’s a wrong answer here. When I visit Walt Disney World, I purchase Park Hopper passes so that I can move from theme park to theme park. While I have a favorite and a least favorite (which I won’t say here), I’m thrilled whenever I’m at any of the parks. They’re all spectacular in their own unique ways.