We’d like to think we’re Disney World experts, but there are a few things about the parks that even surprise us!
Even as we enter the year of Disney World’s 50th anniversary, there’s still lots to discover about this magical place! We’re putting your park knowledge to the test to see if you know these 10 shocking facts about Disney World!
Disney World is the 2nd largest purchaser of explosives in the U.S.
Prior to the closures last year, you could expect to see small daily and huge nightly fireworks in multiple parks just about every. single. night. It was estimated that it cost $25,000 nightly to put on the now-retired IllumiNations in EPCOT. Magic Kingdom’s fireworks are estimated to cost even more per night! That’s a lot of things that go “boom!” in the sky!
The only purchaser that spends more money on explosives in the United States is our own government’s Department of Defense! Granted, the explosives they’re buying are likely a lot less pretty than the ones seen over Cinderella Castle! 😉
There are no bathrooms in Liberty Square
Ye olde Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom isn’t just home to the Haunted Mansion or Columbia Harbour House! It is the heart of Colonial America in the park, which means it isn’t home to any bathrooms. We mean NONE… zero… zip. Since Disney wanted to stay true to the time period, there aren’t any actual bathrooms located in the area (hence the nod towards the rivers of brown running through the streets Liberty Square. We’ll let you piece together what the brown means!). You wouldn’t have been able to walk into a colonial restroom back in the day so you can’t in Magic Kingdom’s version either!
If you gotta go, then you can make your way over to the Liberty Tree Tavern or Columbia Harbour House for the closest restrooms. We know what you’re thinking — both these dining locations are IN Liberty Square, so what gives? Since their restrooms are located at the very back of the restaurants and technically not in Liberty Square (they’re kinda…sorta…technically in Fantasyland), they’ve got the green light from Colonial American colonists ;).
You’ll find some of the loveliest restrooms in all of Disney World right as you leave Liberty Square and enter Fantasyland — the Tangled-themed restrooms! And we promise there are LOADS of bathrooms in Disney World, so no need to worry about where to go. This is just a quirky exception!
Price of admission used to only be $3.50 during Disney World’s opening in 1971!
This next one has us daydreaming of the good ole days when Disney World first opened in 1971. While we’ll be celebrating the parks’ 50th anniversary this year, the very first year of Disney World’s grand opening had one very clear upside compared to now. That, my friends, happened to be the cost of a park ticket. Previously, the cost of admission used to only be $3.50 (which is just over $26 in today’s standard with inflation).
Since then, we’ve seen the cost of park tickets climb over the years up to the minimum base of $109 for a one-day theme park ticket. General public annual Passes have a price tag over $1000 now (even though they aren’t available to purchase currently).
It wasn’t AS great as that low price sounded though — just like Disneyland when it first opened, Disney World guests paid general admission and then purchased ticket books to go on any rides they wanted. Rides were labeled from A-E, with E-ticket rides being the most sought-after rides. A basic ticket book for adults cost $4.50 granting guests one ticket at each level, and additional ride tickets cost 10-90 cents, depending on which level of ride ticket they wanted.
For general admission and a basic ticket book (no additional rides), that comes out to just over $50 by today’s standards!
Expedition Everest was once the most expensive coaster to build
As you approach Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the giant peaks of Expedition Everest are viewable in the distance in the Asia section of the park. Did you know Expedition Everest actually once held the Guinness World Record for the most expensive coaster to build?
When Everest was originally built in 2006, it cost Disney $100 million to complete the attraction. One of the priciest parts was the Yeti animatronic (which no longer works anymore), as well as the track that runs backward.
The title of the “most expensive coaster to build,” according to the Guinness World Records, has since been claimed by Universal Orlando’s Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in 2019, which cost $300 million to construct.
Most of the American Flags in the parks are incorrect
You can find American Flags all around Disney World, but you might not realize that they aren’t ACTUALLY official flags. Confused? Let us explain! Each of the American Flags is missing a stripe or star so they don’t have to follow the American Flag regulations in the United States. Some of these regulations include flying at half-mast or shining lights on them at night (if they aren’t raised and lowered each day).
However, Disney World does raise the real flags each morning and flies its flags half-mast during certain circumstances. Cast Members lower the real flags each evening as well. One of the other benefits to some of Disney World’s fake flags is that they serve as lightning poles during Orlando, Florida’s regularly stormy weather!
One of the unique traditions still done each day involves the real American Flag at the front of Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Each afternoon, the flag is lowered in a small ceremony and if an active or retired member of the military is on hand, they get the privilege of participating in the flag retreat for the day.
The Carousel of Progress is the longest-running American theater show EVER
The Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom has a bit of history to it you might not know. Back at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Walt Disney originally introduced the concept of “Progessland,” which garnered as many as 4,500 visitors a day. One key component was the Carousel of Progress, which almost 16 million people saw before it made its way to Disneyland and ultimately to Disney World in 1975.
As stated at the beginning of the show, the Carousel of Progress actually holds the title as the longest-running stage show with the most performances in the history of American theater (phew, that’s a mouthful)!
The attraction has been updated over the years to make sure that it runs smoothly since it’s one of the oldest and most beloved rides in the Magic Kingdom.
The Hall of Presidents is a federally recognized museum
Speaking of historical parts of Disney World, did you know that the Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom is actually a federally recognized museum? Along with the artifacts viewable throughout the building, it actually took two acts of Congress for Disney World to install the Great Seal of the United States on the carpet inside the Hall of Presidents.
This seal is reserved for use by top government officials. It can be seen stamped on treaties and other major documents from the United States, as well as on display in the Oval Office in the White House.
Along with the decorations throughout the Hall of Presidents, the attractions also receive updates each time another president is elected with a brand-new audio-animatronic (which we should be getting sometime soon this year)! Modern-day presidents have typically donated actual clothes from their wardrobe to dress their animatronics as well!
Do the Hall of Presidents wear any underwear? Find out the answer to weird Disney World questions here!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has plants from every continent — except Antarctica
There’s something unique about each of the parks in Disney World, buuut Disney’s Animal Kingdom might be the most unique for its lush plants and flora to go along with all those incredible animals. As a matter of fact, there are over 4 million trees, plants, bushes, and shrubs throughout the park!
The plants in Disney’s Animal Kingdom are meant to match the areas they are located around the world, especially in areas like Kilimanjaro Safari. The animals are surrounded by plants native to the area they’d naturally reside in. Although Disney has plant life from each of the continents across the globe, the only place that doesn’t have any representation is Antarctica.
Most Antarctic vegetation is found in forms of grasses, lichens, mosses, and other harsh-climate tolerant plants. It’s likely that the plants were skipped because Antarctica’s environment would be difficult to upkeep in Central Florida in order to sustain the vegetation.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom was meant to have another park with DRAGONS
Yes, you read that right! We almost got DRAGONS in Disney World (other than good ole’ Maleficent, that is). When Disney World was first coming up with plans for Animal Kingdom, it included the idea of Beastly Kingdom within the park with mythical creatures like unicorns, dragons, and all that good stuff. There would have been a wicked side versus a good side in the land with spots like Fantasia Gardens and the Dragon’s Tower.
Faced with budgetary issues, it’s said then CEO Michael Eisner was faced with a choice: Beasty Kingdom or a dinsour themed land in the park, Dinoland U.S.A.. Dinoland won. Eventually, Camp Minnie-Mickey set up shop in the area planned for the land as a temporary solution. Years late,r Disney partnered with James Cameron to bring the world of Pandora to Disney World and the former Beastly Kingdom plot was chosen to house the land. So, the next time you’re walking through the Valley of Mo’ara, maybe you can try to picture this instead of the floating rocks:
You CAN still find hints of Beasty Kingdom though. Along with animals, a dragon was included in. the original logo for Animal Kingdom. This still can be seen in signs, benches, and light fixtures around the park, particularly near the entrance. Look close in the photo below. Can you spot the dragon in the entrance lamps?
The parking lot even had a “Unicorn” section before it was changed to “Butterfly” instead to fit with the theme of Disney’s Animal Kingdom today better.
The Beatles officially broke up in Disney World
You might never look at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort the same again after learning this fun fact! The resort may be home to the famous Lapu Lapu drink, but it was also the spot where one of the greatest bands of all time legally dissolved. The BEATLES broke up and called it quits for good at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in 1974.
When John Lennon was staying at the resort during a Christmas holiday, he received and signed the documents that would disband The Beatles. Some fans have pieced together from photographs that the room was located on the ground floor corner room with a Magic Kingdom View in the Samoa Longhouse. Disney hasn’t ever released the actual room number.
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinal, May Pang, John Lennon’s personal assistant that was on-hand at the time, revealed, “He finally picked up his pen and, in the unlikely backdrop of the Polynesian Village Hotel at Disney World, ended the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in history by simply scrawling ‘John Lennon’ at the bottom of the page.”
As Disney World jumps into its 50th year with brand new attractions and experiences, we’re sure that there are plenty of more surprises in store for everyone in 2021! So, stay tuned as we give you a look at everything you can expect to find in Disney World this year!
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
What is your favorite fun fact about Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!