Magic Kingdom Park, commonly known as Magic Kingdom, is the first-built of the four theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando, Florida. It opened on October 1, 1971. Designed and built by WED Enterprises, its layout and attractions are similar to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, and is dedicated to fairy tales and Disney characters. In 2014, the park hosted 19.33 million visitors, making it the most visited theme park in the world for the sixth consecutive year.
The park is represented by Cinderella Castle, inspired by the fairy tale castle seen in the 1950 film.
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.
Although Walt Disney had been highly involved in planning The Florida Project, The Walt Disney Company began construction on Magic Kingdom and the entire resort in 1967 after his death. The park was built as a larger, improved version of Disneyland Park in California. There are several anecdotes relating to reasons for some of the features of Walt Disney World, and Magic Kingdom specifically. According to one story, Walt Disney once saw a Frontierland cowboy walking through Tomorrowland at Disneyland. He disliked that the cowboy intruded on the futuristic setting of Tomorrowland and wanted to avoid situations like this in the new park. Therefore, Magic Kingdom was built over a series of tunnels called utilidors, a portmanteau of utility and corridor, allowing employees (called "cast members") or VIP guests to move through the park out of sight from guests.
Because of Florida's high water table, the tunnels could not be put underground, so they were built at the existing grade, meaning the park is built on the second story, giving Magic Kingdom an elevation of 108 feet (33 m). The area around the utilidors was filled in with dirt removed from the Seven Seas Lagoon, which was being constructed at the same time. The utilidors were built in the initial construction and were not extended as the park expanded. The tunnels were intended to be designed into all subsequent Walt Disney World parks, but were set aside mostly because of financial constraints. Future World at Epcot and Pleasure Island each have a smaller network of utilidors.
Magic Kingdom opened as the first part of the Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1971, commencing concurrently with Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Polynesian Resort. It opened with twenty-three attractions, three unique to the park and twenty replicas of attractions at Disneyland, split into six themed lands, five copies of those at Disneyland (Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland) and the Magic Kingdom exclusive of Liberty Square. The Walt Disney Company promised to increase this number with a combination of replicas and unique attractions. While there is no individual dedication to Magic Kingdom, the dedication by Roy O. Disney for the entire resort was placed within its gates.
The first, and as of today, only land added to the original roster of lands in the park was Mickey's Toontown Fair. The land originally opened in 1988 as Mickey's Birthdayland to celebrate Mickey Mouse's 60th birthday. Later the land was renovated as Mickey's Starland and eventually to Mickey's Toontown Fair. The land was home to attractions such as Mickey's Country House, Minnie's Country House, The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm, and Donald's Boat. It closed on February 12, 2011, to make way for the expansion of Fantasyland. The Walt Disney World Railroad station in Mickey's Toontown Fair, which opened with Mickey's Birthdayland in 1988, was closed for the duration of the construction. In 2012, the space where Mickey's Toontown Fair sat reopened as a part of Fantasyland, in a sub-land called the Storybook Circus, where the Dumbo the Flying Elephant was relocated. The Barnstormer was retained and was re-themed to The Great Goofini.
Since opening day, Magic Kingdom has been closed temporarily because of five hurricanes: Floyd, Frances, Charley, Jeanne, and Wilma. It was also closed in the middle of the day on September 11, 2001, due to the terrorist attacks that day. In addition, there are four "phases" of park closure when Magic Kingdom exceeds capacity, ranging from restricted access for most guests (Phase 1) to full closure for everyone, even cast members (Phase 4).
"Magic Kingdom" was often used as an unofficial nickname for Disneyland before Walt Disney World was built. The official tagline for Disneyland is "The Happiest Place On Earth", while the tagline for Magic Kingdom is "The Most Magical Place On Earth". In 1994, to differentiate it from Disneyland, the park was officially renamed Magic Kingdom Park, but is known as Magic Kingdom. Like all Disney theme parks, the official name of the park does not start with an article ("the"), though it is commonly referred to that way, and a sign on the railroad station at the front of the park reads "The Magic Kingdom".
Alcoholic beverages are forbidden throughout the park, unlike at other Disney attractions worldwide. In 2012 the new Be Our Guest restaurant opened selling wine and beer. It is the only place in the park where alcohol is permitted.
Magic Kingdom is divided into six themed "lands." It is designed like a wheel, with the hub in front of Cinderella Castle, pathways spoke out across the 107 acres (43 ha) of the park and lead to these six lands. The 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge Walt Disney World Railroad runs along the perimeter of the park and makes stops at Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, and Fantasyland.
Symbolically, Main Street, U.S.A. represents the park's "opening credits," where 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 the Walt Disney World Resort. It features stylistic influences from around the country. Taking its inspiration from New England to Missouri, this design is most noticeable in the four corners in the middle of Main Street, where each of the four corner buildings represents a different architectural style. There is no opera house as there is at Disneyland; instead, there is the Town Square Theater. Also, this is where Christopher George Weaver, the "mayor" of Main Street U.S.A., and one of the park's most important figures, resides.
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 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 Restaurant and The Plaza Restaurant are table-service locations. At the end of Main Street is Casey's Corner, where guests enjoy traditional American ballpark fare including hot dogs and fries while watching old cartoons on the bleachers. The Main Street Confectionery sells sweets priced by their weight, such as candied apples, crisped rice treats, chocolates, cookies and fudge. Most windows bear the name of people who were influential at Disney parks. An example of a classic Main Street, U.S.A. attraction is the 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge Walt Disney World Railroad, which transports guest throughout the park, making stops at Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, and Frontierland. The railroad's previous stop at Mickey's Toontown Fair was replaced by the Fantasyland stop in 2012. Main Street, U.S.A. also has the Main Street Vehicles attraction, which includes a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge tramway with horse-drawn streetcars, and several old-fashioned motor vehicles.
In the distance beyond the end of Main Street stands Cinderella Castle. Though only 189 feet (55m) tall, it benefits from a technique known as forced perspective. The 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.
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. In 2012, Disney replaced the shop in the Firehouse with a sign up for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game.
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 attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, the Swiss Family Treehouse, and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.
In Frontierland guests can relive the American Old West, from the romanticized cowboys and Native Americans, to exploring the mysteries of the Rivers of America. It contains classic attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and the Country Bear Jamboree.
Liberty Square is based on an American Revolutionary colonial town. The Magic Kingdom's Rivers of America hosts the Liberty Belle Riverboat. Liberty Square is home to classic attractions such as the Haunted Mansion, the Hall of Presidents, the Liberty Belle Riverboat, and a sign up location for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom behind the Christmas shop.
Fantasyland is themed in a medieval-faire/carnival style, 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." Classic attractions include It's a Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mickey's PhilharMagic, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, and Mad Tea Party. From 2012 to 2014, Fantasyland was expanded to nearly double its size and new attractions and other guest offerings were added, including; the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, as well as attractions themed to Beauty and the Beast and Tangled.
Part of Fantasyland, Storybook Circus is located at the former site of Mickey's Toontown Fair, and is based on elements from Dumbo and the Mickey Mouse universe. Attractions include The Barnstormer and Dumbo the Flying Elephant, which was removed from its former location on January 8, 2012. Also included is the Casey Jr. Splash n' Soak Station (a water play area themed to Casey Jr., the train from Dumbo). Storybook Circus began soft openings on March 12, 2012, with more parts opening on March 31.
Mickey's Toontown Fair closed permanently on February 11, 2011, to make way for Storybook Circus. Some elements of Mickey's Toontown Fair were demolished, and others were re-themed to fit the circus concept. An expanded Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride was built, with an interactive queue, and a second Dumbo ride was built next to it, in order to increase capacity. The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm was re-themed to "The Great Goofini". A big top area was built for meet-and-greets, called Pete's Silly Sideshow. This attraction features Goofy as a stuntman, Minnie as a magician, Daisy as a fortune-teller, and Donald as a snake-charmer.
The completion of Enchanted Forest completed the expansion of New Fantasyland. Included is a new dark ride, themed to Disney's 1989 film The Little Mermaid, that originally opened at Disney California Adventure. There is also an area themed to Disney's 1991 film Beauty and the Beast, featuring the Beast's Castle with the new dining experience Be Our Guest Restaurant (offering quick-service lunches and table service dinners), as well as Gaston's Tavern and Belle's cottage. This portion of the New Fantasyland officially opened on December 6, 2012. Snow White's Scary Adventures was removed to build Princess Fairytale Hall, a meet-n-greet. Opened on May 28, 2014, another part of the New Fantasyland featuring an attraction themed to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which features Snow White's cottage and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster ride, the first roller coaster to move in a wobbling motion on track.
Tomorrowland is set in an intergalactic city, a concept of the future as seen from around the 1950s: rockets, UFOs and robots, etc. In the words of Walt Disney: "Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the door 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." Classic attractions include Space Mountain, Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and the Tomorrowland Speedway. Other current attractions include Stitch's Great Escape!, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
Magic Kingdom lies more than a mile away from its parking lot, on the opposite side of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon. Upon arrival, guests are taken by the parking lot trams to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), which sells tickets to the parks and provides transportation connections throughout the resort complex. It also has a small gift shop and the central lost-and-found facility for all four theme parks.
To reach the park, guests either use the Walt Disney World Monorail System, the ferryboats, or Disney Transport buses, depending on the location of their hotel. The three hotels closest to Magic Kingdom, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, use either the ferry or monorail system to travel to Magic Kingdom. Guests staying at Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground can also ride a dedicated ferry boat to the Magic Kingdom docks. The other hotels take buses to travel to the park. 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). The main monorail loop has two lanes. The outer lane is a direct nonstop loop between the TTC and Magic Kingdom, while the inner loop has additional stops at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Epcot is accessible by a spur monorail line that was added upon that park's opening in 1982.
In 2012, Jon Favreau announced he was planning a film called Magic Kingdom. The film is described as “Night at the Museum at Disneyland,” meaning that the film would tell a story where all the characters at Disney come to life at night. Marc Abraham and Eric Newman of Strike Entertainment were scheduled to produce the film. Writer-producer Ronald D. Moore had previously written an original script for the project, which the studio eventually declined to use, stating that Jon Favreau and a new screenwriter would develop a new script. As of 2014, Favreau was directing the 2016 adaption of The Jungle Book, but still expressed interest in pursuing the project. So far, Magic Kingdom has a script and some storyboards, but no cast, sets, and franchises that will appear in the film.