- “The Most Magical Place On Earth”
- ―Magic Kingdom tagline
The Magic Kingdom is the flagship theme park of Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Based on the original Disneyland in California, it opened on October 1, 1971, as the first of Walt Disney World's four theme parks.
The layout of the park is that of the central hub (Cinderella Castle) surrounded by six "lands" that are based around different themes--Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Liberty Square. Each land is home to different characters who do their best to show guests a good time.
- “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.”
- ―Roy Oliver Disney, October 25, 1971
Although Walt Disney himself had been highly involved in planning The Florida Project, The Walt Disney Company began construction on Magic Kingdom and the entire resort in 1967 following Walt's death in 1966. The Magic Kingdom park was built similarly to the existing Disneyland in California. The Florida park, however, was built in a much larger area and greatly improved upon Disneyland's design.
There are several anecdotes relating to reasons for some of the features of Walt Disney World, and the Magic Kingdom specifically. According to one story, Walt Disney once saw a Frontierland cowboy walking through Tomorrowland at Disneyland. He disliked how 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 contraction of the words "utility" and "corridor". These tunnels allow cast members to move through the park out of sight from guests, maintaining the illusion of the show.
Because of Florida's high water table, the tunnels could not be constructed underground, so they were built at the existing grade. This means that the park itself is actually built on the second story, giving Magic Kingdom an elevation of 107 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 only used in 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 23 attractions, three unique to the park and 20, often somewhat different, copies of attractions at Disneyland. The Walt Disney Company promised to increase this number with more attractions like those in Disneyland as well as more unique ones. The attractions were split into six themed lands. Five of these lands were counterparts to those at Disneyland and the sixth is Liberty Square, unique in name, but sharing the same attractions as Disneyland's New Orleans Square.
While there is no individual dedication to 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 Oliver Disney.
Some of the information is taken from "The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World" by Susan Veness.
The Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971, to a crowd of 10,000 visitors.
Attractions open that day were:
- Cinderella's Golden Carrousel
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Diamond Horseshoe Revue
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Frontierland Shooting Gallery
- The Hall of Presidents
- The Haunted Mansion
- It's a Small World
- Jungle Cruise
- Mad Tea Party
- Mickey Mouse Revue
- Mike Fink Keel Boats
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Snow White's Adventures
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- Tropical Serenade
- Grand Prix Raceway
- Walt Disney World Railroad
During the other three months of 1971, other attractions opened, including:
- Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat
- Peter Pan's Flight
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage
- Flight to the Moon
- America the Beautiful
In 1972, the If You Had Wings attraction opened in Tomorrowland. During the park’s first anniversary, 10.7 million guests had passed through its gates.
In 1973, many new attractions opened that later turned into timeless classics:
- The Walt Disney Story
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Plaza Swan Boats
- Richard F. Irvine Riverboat
- Pirates of the Caribbean
In 1974, America the Beautiful closed and reopened the next day with a new film called Magic Carpet 'Round the World, which closed after a year and America the Beautiful returned. Star Jets opened.
By the end of 1974, the park’s popularity was so big that on December 29, a record 74,597 day-guests passed through the gates and, for the first time in the park's history, closed due to over-capacity.
In January 1975, the long-awaited Space Mountain attraction opened in Tomorrowland.
After some time, when traveling to the Moon lost its mystique, Flight to the Moon became Mission to Mars.
In June, America on Parade debuted to honor the United States Bicentennial and ran until September of the following year.
The classic Carousel of Progress was moved to the Magic Kingdom, after having concluded a six-year run at Disneyland.
Although 1976 was quiet in terms of new attractions, the Magic Kingdom hit a milestone when Susan Brummer passed through the gates as the park's 50,000,000th visitor. Three years later, another, even more momentous milestone occurred when Kurt Miller became visitor number 100,000,000.
In June 1977, the Main Street Electrical Parade premiered.
The period between 1978 and 1981 was quiet at the Magic Kingdom as a second gate, EPCOT Center, broke ground in preparation for its October 1, 1982, opening.
In 1978, as part of Mickey Mouse's 50th birthday, a special parade debuted in his honor. A similar parade also debuted at Disneyland.
In 1979, America the Beautiful ended at the Circle Vision theater and was replaced again by Magic Carpet 'Round the World.
The Mickey Mouse Revue closed in September 1980, followed by the retirement of the Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat. But big news came in November of that year with the opening of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
A film titled "A Dream Called EPCOT" began playing at the park's EPCOT Preview Center, generating excitement for the new park.
The year 1981 focused on the Magic Kingdom's 10th Anniversary, which ran for a full year, from October 1, 1981, until September 30 of the following year. As part of the event, the stage show Disney World Is Your World debuted and the Tencennial Parade started running. In addition, Disney World welcomed its 126,000,000th guest during the Tencennial celebration.
Most of Walt Disney World's energy was focused on EPCOT Center through 1982 and 1983. The Plaza Swan Boats no longer swam the park's island waters as of August 1983.
A change of power occurred in 1984, with Michael Eisner becoming the new chairman and chief executive officer of Walt Disney Productions, which later changed its name to The Walt Disney Company.
In July, the stage show Show Biz Is opened, only to close two months later.
The year 1984 was the year of Donald Duck's 50th birthday, with a special parade debuting in his honor. An identical parade was also featured at Disneyland.
Magic Carpet 'Round the World was replaced by American Journeys and the Frontierland Shooting Gallery reopened as the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade.
After the upheaval of 1984, it would be another four years before any new developments would occur in the Magic Kingdom. Time and money were being used to expand EPCOT Center and develop the resort's third gate—the $300 million "Hollywood that Never Was and Always Will Be" which would open as the Disney MGM Studios on May 1, 1989.
On October 1, 1986, Walt Disney World celebrated its 15th anniversary and ran until September 30 the following year. A special parade to mark the occasion debuted at the Magic Kingdom.
Merlin's Magic Shop was closed and the Diamond Horseshoe Revue was renamed the Diamond Horseshoe Jamboree. If You Had Wings was renamed If You Could Fly. Magic Journeys, the first 3-D attraction in the park, debuted in the former Mickey Mouse Revue theater, after Captain EO had replaced the show at EPCOT.
In honor of Mickey Mouse's 60th birthday, a "temporary" land called Mickey's Birthdayland opened. The area consisted of Mickey’s House, Grandma Duck’s Petting Farm, Mickey's Playground and three circus-style tents housing character meet-and-greets and two live shows including Minnie’s Surprise Birthday Party. One of the prime attractions was a cow living at the petting farm named Minnie Moo, born with the classic tri-circle Mickey head on her side.
In January 1989, If You Could Fly closed and was replaced by Delta Dreamflight.
Due to its enormous popularity, Mickey’s Birthdayland was kept and renamed Mickey's Starland in 1990.
In September 1991, the popular Main Street Electrical Parade ended its run and was replaced by SpectroMagic. The Surprise Celebration Parade debuted in September as part of Walt Disney World's 20th Anniversary celebration.
It had been twelve years since the Magic Kingdom welcomed a major new attraction. In 1992, Splash Mountain opened.
The Walt Disney Story closed in October 1992 followed by Mission to Mars in October 1993. The Hall of Presidents and Carousel of Progress both underwent huge refurbishments. In December, Magic Journeys closed. A month later American Journeys closed, followed by the Surprise Celebration Parade and Star Jets.
In 1994, Tomorrowland received a major refurbishment—it had begun to look dated, so the Imagineers gave it a general design, creating a City of the Future. In the process, the WEDway PeopleMover was renamed the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Later that year, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea closed.
The Legend of the Lion King opened in the former Mickey Mouse Revue theater. In November, The Timekeeper opened. Star Jets reopened as Astro Orbiter. Snow White's Adventures underwent an extensive upgrade, toning down its scare factors and adding the character of Snow White herself to the ride. The Mickey Mania parade debuted.
Main Street's Penny Arcade and House of Magic closed in 1995.
In June 1995, the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter opened, adding a slight touch of terror to the Magic Kingdom.
Mickey’s Starland was transformed into Mickey's Toontown Fair, enjoying an expansion in June 1996 with the additions of the Toontown Hall of Fame and kiddie coaster The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm, which replaced Grandma Duck’s Petting Farm.
The Grand Prix Raceway's track was shortened to make room for the new Toontown Fair attractions. It was later renamed the Tomorrowland Speedway.
Also in 1996, the Richard F. Irvine riverboat was renamed the Liberty Belle and Delta Dreamflight was renamed Take Flight. As part of Walt Disney World's 25th Anniversary celebration, the Remember the Magic Parade debuted and Cinderella Castle was transformed into a giant birthday cake.
In 1997, King Stefan’s Banquet Hall was renamed Cinderella's Royal Table.
In October 1998, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin replaced Take Flight.
The beloved Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride closed in September 1998, reopening in June 1999 as The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. SpectroMagic went on hiatus in the summer of 1999 and the classic Main Street Electrical Parade returned for a limited engagement.
The year 2001 added new entertainment to the park. This included Cinderella’s Surprise Celebration, the Share a Dream Come True Parade and the return of SpectroMagic. That same year also saw the opening of the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and the departure of the Mike Fink Keelboats.
On October 1, 2001, Disney's 100 Years of Magic celebration began, honoring the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth.
October 2003 saw another period of great change in the park—the 3-D film Mickey’s PhilharMagic replaced The Legend of the Lion King, an all-new fireworks spectacular called Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams lit up the sky for the first time and the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter closed. Alien Encounter's replacement arrived more than a year later with the scary but friendly Stitch’s Great Escape.
Disney could not ignore the 2003 blockbuster film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, so in 2006, the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was refurbished to add the characters of Jack Sparrow, Barbossa, and Davy Jones to the ride. Also in 2006, The Timekeeper closed and reopened as the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor the following year.
It's a Small World, The Haunted Mansion, the Hall of Presidents and Space Mountain all underwent huge refurbishments.
In 2010, SpectroMagic departed yet again for another return engagement of the Main Street Electrical Parade.
In 2011, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management closed following a fire and the Tiki Room was restored to its original show.
In 2011, Mickey's Toontown Fair closed as construction was beginning on the expansion of Fantasyland. The expansion's first phase, Storybook Circus, opened in the former site of the Toontown Fair in the spring in 2012, featuring a newly-relocated Dumbo the Flying Elephant and a rethemed version of The Barnstormer. In May 2012, Snow White's Scary Adventures closed to make way for Princess Fairytale Hall, which opened the following year. The New Fantasyland officially opened in November 2012 with the additions of Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston's Tavern, Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid, and a new Ariel's Grotto.
The year 2012 also saw the debut of the interactive game Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
In February of 2015, the park unveiled an expanded Central Plaza area, proceeding Cinderella Castle, as the first phase in an ongoing hub expansion to include new pathways and sculpted gardens, among others.
That same year, Pirates of the Caribbean closed throughout the summer season to undergo refurbishments, reopening a few months afterwards in September.
Also in 2015, turrets with a matching color scheme of Cinderella Castle were added; surrounding the park's physical icon.
In 2016, The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History opened in Liberty Square on October 2. The show ran until the fall of 2019.
- Main Street Vehicles
- Walt Disney World Railroad - Main Street Station
- Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
- Town Square Theater
- Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Jungle Cruise
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas
- Splash Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Frontierland Shootin' Arcade
- Tom Sawyer Island
- Walt Disney World Railroad - Frontierland Station
- Cinderella Castle
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- It's a Small World
- Mad Tea Party
- Peter Pan's Flight
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Mickey's PhilharMagic
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- The Barnstormer featuring Goofy as The Great Goofini
- Casey Jr. Splash 'n' Soak Station
- Ariel's Grotto
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Princess Fairytale Hall
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Pete's Silly Sideshow
- Walt Disney World Railroad - Fantasyland Station
- Space Mountain
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
- Stitch's Great Escape! (seasonally operating)
- Astro Orbiter
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
- Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress
- Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell at Town Square Theater
- Pluto at Town Square/Main Street USA
- Chip and Dale at Town Square/Main Street USA
- Minnie Mouse at Town Square/Main Street USA
- Daisy Duck at Town Square/Main Street USA
- Snow White and maybe Dopey at Town Square/Main Street USA
- Aurora randomly at Town Square/Main Street USA
- Aladdin and Jasmine in Adventureland
- Chip and Dale in Frontierland
- Mary Poppins in Liberty Square
- Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland near the Carousel of Progress
- Stitch in Tomorrowland
- Fairy Godmother in Fantasyland behind the Castle
- Anastasia and Drizella in Fantasyland behind the Castle
- Peter Pan in Fantasyland near his attraction
- Cinderella and Elena in Princess Fairytale Hall
- Rapunzel and Tiana in Princess Fairytale Hall
- Winnie the Pooh and Tigger near The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Alice near Mad Tea Party
- Ariel at her grotto
- Belle at Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Gaston outside his tavern
- Donald and Goofy at the Silly Sideshow
- Minnie and Daisy at the Silly Sideshow
- Marie at Town Square/Main Street USA
- Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Rapunzel, and Tiana at Town Square Theater
- Minnie Mouse at Town Square Theater
- Timon in Adventureland
- Rafiki in Adventureland
- Ariel and Eric in Adventureland
- Woody and Jessie in Frontierland
- Lady Tremaine in Fantasyland behind the Castle
- Mickey Mouse in Fantasyland near the Carousel
- Minnie Mouse in Fantasyland near the Carousel
- Donald Duck in Fantasyland near the Carousel
- Goofy in Fantasyland near the Carousel
- Pluto in Fantasyland near the Carousel
- Chip and Dale in Fantasyland near the Carousel
- Pinocchio in Fantasyland near the Pinocchio Village Haus
- Snow White at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Aurora at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Mad Hatter in Fantasyland near the Mad Tea Party
- White Rabbit in Fantasyland near the Mad Tea Party
- Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in Fantasyland near the Mad Tea Party
- TRON Lightcycle Run (Coming in 2021)
Recent Park Map
Favreau, who said "the Disney iconography was probably the first set of archetypes that I was exposed to" and that Disney movies and attractions "made a deep impression on me as a child", noted that, "When I first heard about the Magic Kingdom film project, I was on my way to visit Disneyland with my family. I took notes and had no problem filling a book with all the ideas that this concept offered, even on first blush."
Marc Abraham and Eric Newman of Strike Entertainment are 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 Favreau and a new screenwriter will develop a new script. On June 20, 2011, Spider-Man 2 story contributor, Michael Chabon signed on to write the film's script.