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The Magic Kingdom is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort. The first park built at the resort, it opened on October 1, 1971. The park saw an estimated 17 million visitors in 2007, making it the most visited theme park in the world.
Designed and built by WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering), the park's layout and attractions are similar to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California.
While there is no individual dedication to the Magic Kingdom Park, the dedication by Roy O. Disney for the entire Walt Disney World Resort was placed within its gates.
“Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney... and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place... a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn — together."
Dedicated this 25th day of October, 1971. Roy O. Disney
The Walt Disney Company began construction on the Magic Kingdom and the entire Resort in 1967 after the death of Walt Disney; however, Walt was very involved in planning The Florida Project in the years prior to his death. The park itself was initially built similar to the existing Disneyland in California, however the Magic Kingdom was built in a larger area. The Magic Kingdom also improved upon Disneyland's design. According to a story, Walt Disney once saw a Frontierland cowboy walking through Tomorrowland at Disneyland and wanted to eliminate ruining the illusion like this in the new park. In order to alleviate this, the Magic Kingdom was built over a series of tunnels, called Utilidors, a portmanteau of utility and corridor. With these tunnels cast members were able to move through the park away from the guests and not ruin the illusion of the show. Because of Florida's high water table, the tunnels could not be put underground, so they were built at the existing grade. This means that the park is actually built on the second story, and it gives the Magic Kingdom an elevation of 107 feet. The area around them was filled in with dirt removed from the Seven Seas Lagoon which was being constructed at the same time. The tunnels are only under areas that were built in the initial construction and were not extended with additions to the park. The tunnels are mostly found in the Magic Kingdom because of financial constraints, but they were meant to be employed in all subsequent Walt Disney World parks. Epcot's Future World and Pleasure Island each have a smaller network of utilidors.
The Magic Kingdom opened as the first part of Walt Disney's planned Florida Project on October 1, 1971. It was the only theme park on the resort at the time and opened concurrently with two hotels on the property: Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Polynesian Resort. The park opened with twenty-three attractions, three unique to the park and twenty copies of attractions at Disneyland. The Walt Disney Company promised to increase the attractions with more attractions similar to Disneyland and other unique attractions. The attractions were split into six themed lands, five copies of those at Disneyland and the unique Liberty Square which was planned for Disneyland, but never built.
Because of the similarity to Disneyland, there was some confusion on the name of the park. "The Magic Kingdom" was used as an unofficial nickname for Disneyland before the Walt Disney World Resort was built, however the official nickname of Disneyland is "The Happiest Place On Earth." The Magic Kingdom's nickname is the similar "The Most Magical Place On Earth." Despite the confusion, the park's tickets have always borne the official name of "The Magic Kingdom." In 1994, in order to differentiate it from Disneyland, the park was officially renamed to "Magic Kingdom Park."
Transportation and Ticket Center
The layout of the resort placed the Magic Kingdom more than a mile away from its parking lot, on the opposite side of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon. Upon arriving at the park, guests are taken by the parking lot trams to the Transportation and Ticket Center. This facility, as its name implies, sells tickets to the parks and provides transportation connections throughout the resort complex. It also has a small gift shop and the Magic Kingdom's pet-boarding kennel.
To reach the Magic Kingdom, visiting guests can choose between the monorails and the Staten Island-style ferryboats. The three ferries are clad in different trim colors and are named for past Disney executives: the General Joe Potter (blue), the Richard F. Irvine (red) and the Admiral Joe Fowler (green).
Epcot is accessible by a spur monorail line that was added upon that park's opening in 1982. Buses take guests to the other major destinations within the resort, including Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Lands of the Magic Kingdom
The park map lists forty-eight attractions in seven themed "lands."
The Walt Disney World Railroad runs along the perimeter of the park and makes stops at Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, and Mickey's Toontown Fair.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Instead of being a replica of a small midwestern American town, Main Street at Walt Disney World features some stylistic influences from around the country, such as New England and Missouri. This is most noticeable in the "four corners" area in the middle of Main Street where each of the four corner buildings represents a different architectural style. There is also no Opera House as there is at Disneyland; instead there is the Exposition Hall. Main Street is lined with shops selling merchandise and food. The decor is early-20th century small-town America, inspired by Walt Disney's childhood and the film Lady and the Tramp. City Hall contains the Guest Relations lobby where cast members provide information and assistance. A real working barber shop gives haircuts for a fee. The Emporium carries a wide variety of Disney souvenirs such as plush toys, collectible pins, and Mickey-ear hats. Tony’s Town Square and the Plaza Restaurant are sit-down restaurants. Casey's Corner is at the end of Main Street and sells traditional American ballpark fare including hot dogs & fries.
Though only 189 feet (55m) tall, it benefits from a technique known as forced perspective. The (fake) second stories of all the buildings along Main Street are shorter than the first stories, and the third stories are even shorter than the second, and the top windows of the castle are much smaller than they appear. The resulting visual effect is that the buildings appear to be larger and taller than they really are.
Wishes is the largest fireworks show ever presented at the Magic KingdomSymbolically, Main Street, U.S.A. represents the park's "opening credits". Guests pass under the train station (the opening curtain), then view the names of key personnel along the windows of the buildings' upper floors. Many windows bear the name of a fictional business, such as "Seven Summits Expeditions, Frank G. Wells President", with each representing a tribute to significant people connected to the Disney company and the development of Walt Disney World Resort.
The park contains two additional tributes: the Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella Castle and the Sharing the Magic statue of Roy O. Disney sitting with Minnie Mouse in the Town Square section of Main Street, U.S.A. Both were sculpted by veteran Imagineer Blaine Gibson.
Adventureland represents the mystery of exploring foreign lands. It is themed to resemble the remote jungles in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the South Pacific, with an extension resembling a Caribbean town square. It contains classic rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise.
Frontierland is where guests can relive the Wild West -- from cowboys and Indians, to exploring the mysteries of the Rivers of America. Frontierland contains classic attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Tom Sawyer Island, Splash Mountain, and the Country Bear Jamboree.
This area of the park is based on an American Revolutionary town. The Magic Kingdom's Rivers of America hosts the Liberty Belle riverboat. Liberty Square is home to the Haunted Mansion and the Hall of Presidents.
In the words of Walt Disney: "Fantasyland is dedicated to the young at heart and to those who believe that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true." Fantasyland is themed in a medieval-faire/carnival style. Attractions include "it's a small world", Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mickey's PhilarMagic, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Cinderella's Golden Carrousel, and Mad Tea Party.
In the words of Walt Disney: "Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future."
Tomorrowland is themed to be an intergalactic convention center. Classic attractions include Space Mountain and the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.
Mickey's Toontown Fair
An expansion of the land created as Mickey's Birthdayland, and later Mickey's Starland, this area is home to attractions such as Mickey's Country House, Minnie's Country House, Goofy's Barnstormer, and Donald's Boat.
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