I have to admit that out of all of the topics I came up with for the weekly schedule the item that I was most nervous about was Tidbit Thursday. Not because I don’t have things I know about that I like to talk about, but that I really just don’t know how to make most of these facts interesting. Just ask my wife….
Of course, part of being a writer is coming up with ways to make anything interesting…so here goes, my attempt to write something of a piece of non-fiction that isn’t just me rambling about my life… 🙂
Let’s start out with a small little fact…a fact that, although not exactly hidden, is one that I don’t necessarily talk about very publicly (although it has made it onto this space more than once already). I have something of a love affair with Disney. I mean, I like the movies and all, I’m a pretty big fan of the media empire they’ve built, especially now that they own Marvel and the Star Wars franchises (yeah, I know they haven’t officially released much on the second item there…and I haven’t watched Rebels yet, but I’m being hopefully optimistic).
We actually watch a fair amount of Disney movies around this house, and they are, more often than not, the only movies we actually make it to the theaters for. In fact, the first movie I watched with my wife, on our first ever date, was Pirate of the Caribbean…a movie that could be designated as the one that actually brought that company back to life.
The movies of the Disney corporation have been a major part of the entertainment of my life. My earliest memory of seeing a movie in the theater was a re-release of Pinocchio. Heck, they even owned Miramax, meaning they were partially responsible for the theatrical release of most of the early Kevin Smith films, which could be designated as the reason I actually started believing I could produce my own stories…and were the main motivation behind my attempts to make my own movies.
But what I find most appealing about this corporation is not the movies, the tv shows, the video games, or whatever else. It’s the theme parks.
For as long as I can remember, my favorite thing to do, when given the option to do anything, has been to go to a theme park. Riding rollercoasters and whatever other crazed contraptions ride designers come up with had been one of the main methods in which me and my mother would bond. And, it was an opportunity to just get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and have fun with family without all the stresses of normal life…and also without all that boring sitting around.
The parks at Disney World were the epitome of that whole experience to me. I remember walking around Future World at EPCOT and getting to get all giddy over the new technology they had around there with my father. I remember being absolutely frightened of even the idea of the Haunted Mansion. I have a lot of memories about the place…but I’m already halfway through this article and haven’t even gotten to the tidbits.
Walt Disney World is an amazingly large complex. In fact, it spans over 40 square miles. That’s bigger than the city I live in, which boasts something around 32 square miles, I believe. It’s right around the size of San Francisco, which, from my experience walking around that city, is pretty darn incredible.
Of course, not all of that 40 square miles is theme park. They’ve got hotels, restaurants, houses and dormitory housing for college students, a school, an enormous shopping district, and…a zoo…well, sort of.
The Animal Kingdom, which is officially a theme park, is really just a crazy version of a zoo. It’s 580 acres, most of which is just space for animals to roam about while people watch them through a variety of methods. Item to note…Magic Kingdom, you know, the park that has all those rides like Space Mountain and Splash Mountain and Merchandise Mountain (not a thing…but maybe it should be?), it’s less than a fifth of the size of this enormous park…a park that’s in the midst of expansion, I might add.
Speaking of size, however, that much space takes a whole bunch of people to keep in order. Reports vary, but a fairly safe (low) number of employees to expect to find getting checks for working within the confines of the Disney World property is just above 60,000 people…my hometown has about that many people living here.
What you might be thinking now is, hey, this place seems like it could be its own city. Well, outside of EPCOT (which used to stand for Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow and was initially a design created by Walt Disney himself for being an actual new type of city), you’ll find that your thinking isn’t too far from the truth. In fact, back in 1966 when they were first putting all this stuff together, Disney and Co created the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is the governing authority over all of Disney World. What this means is that Disney World has the ability to construct pretty much anything within its borders, even including things such as a nuclear power plant. They can give themselves tax-free bonds for internal improvements. They even have their own fire department.
What I’m getting at here, is that this place is huge. They use 15 million gallons of water each day. Over seven thousand Mickey-shaped chocolate covered ice cream bars are consumed each day. They provide over 11,000 fireworks performances each year. Almost ten thousand ear hats are bought every day!
Walt Disney World currently has the fifth leading fleet of watercrafts in the world. At one point, it had the third highest number of submarines in the world.
Approximately 50 million people visited Disney World in 2013. If you were to average that out (which would not account for peak visiting times and all that other jazz) it would mean that on any given day, if you’re at Disney World visiting, you’re there with nearly 137,000 other people, all buying ear hats and ice cream and drinking water.
And just think…back when it opened, it only cost $3.50 to get into the park. Of course, it was a lot smaller back then…
Alright, there’s your first Tidbit Thursday. Hope you enjoyed!
Have fun out there!