Latest Walt Disney World News 10-6-11

Walt Disney World Celebrates 40 Years in Central Florida

Four decades after the first Guests walked down Main  Street, U.S.A. toward Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom marked the 40th  anniversary milestone with a celebration that included a parade, Disney  characters and fireworks. Meg Crofton, president of operations U.S. and France  for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, told thousands of Guests, “We’ve grown by  leaps and bounds, but the fact remains that this place, as it appeared on Oct. 1,  1971, was the last great vision of one of the world’s greatest dreamers.”

‘World’ Wisdom

In the mid-1960s, Walt Disney’s dream was to build  a family resort destination like no other. The dream  became a reality  when Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. Today, Walt Disney World Resort draws  millions of Guests  from around the world  and generates substantial economic activity for the entire state of Florida. Did you know…

  • Ground  was first cleared to make way for Walt Disney World Resort on May 30, 1967,  taking 1,584 days, $400 million and 8,000 construction workers to ready the  area for opening day.
  • On Oct. 1, 1971,  there were approximately 5,500 Cast Members. Today, there are more than 62,000 Cast Members in more than 3,000 different job classifications.
  • Walt Disney World  Resort has become a contiguous 40-square-mile   world -class entertainment and  recreation center featuring four theme parks, two water adventure parks, 34 resort hotels (24  owned and operated by Walt Disney World, including seven Disney Vacation Club  resort properties), 81 holes of  golf on five courses, two full-service spas, Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, ESPN  Wide World of Sports Complex and Downtown Disney, an  entertainment-shopping-dining complex.
  • Of the 7.2 million Floridians in the  workforce in 2009, more than one out of every 50 had a job that can be directly  or indirectly tied to the operations of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
  • The $18.2 billion in annual economic activity  generated locally by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts last year accounts for 2.5  percent of the gross domestic product for the entire state.

Walt Disney World Earns Top Honors for Supporting the Arts

Tonight  in New York City, Americans for the Arts will recognize Walt Disney World Resort as one the nation’s 10  best companies for its exceptional commitment to the local arts community. For nearly four  decades, Disney has helped foster creativity in Central Florida through  millions in cash, in-kind donations and the knowledge and expertise of its Cast  Members. Last year, Walt Disney World Resort gave more than $565,000 to support  the arts, including grants to programs such as A Gift For Music, which provides  free classical music instruction to economically disadvantaged students. Other  contributions included a $12.5 million capital investment in the Dr. Phillips Center  for the Performing Arts. Read more.

Cast Members Raise Funds, Heart Rate for Great Cause

“My  goal is to get healthier and complete a marathon this year,” said Kendall  Bercaw, a Cast Member at Walt Disney World Resort. Getting a jump-start on  her objective, Bercaw was one of more than 1,100 Disney VoluntEARS  participating in the Orlando Start! Heart Walk. Proceeds from the walk  benefited the American Heart Association’s research and education to help fight  heart disease and stroke. Cast Members from Walt Disney World Resort raised  nearly $49,000 for the organization. Read more.

DWCF Awards Record $2 Million in Grants

Nineteen Florida-based efforts received grants this year from the Disney Worldwide  Conservation Fund (DWCF), which recently awarded $2 million to conservation projects  around the globe. Thousands of dollars went toward  projects aiming to protect mangrove cuckoos, sea turtles, native bears and eagles. “EagleWatch has aided in the recovery of the bald  eagle from near-extinction, and DWCF’s funding has provided the means to reach  out to concerned citizens statewide, training them to become citizen scientists  as we continue to ensure the successful recovery of the iconic bald eagle,”  said Lynda White, EagleWatch Coordinator/Educator for the Audubon  Center for Birds of Prey.  Learn more.

Walt Disney World Recognized for Support of Education

The  Orange County School Board recognized the efforts of Walt Disney World Resort  and its Cast Members for their commitment to supporting Orange County Public  Schools. Within the last year, Cast Members donated 2.1 million school supplies  for the annual back-to-school drive, awarded the school district a $50,000  Disney Helping Kids Shine grant and donated nearly 17,000 VoluntEARS hours to the school system.  Learn more.

Imagineer Earns Junior Achievement Top Volunteer Award

Junior Achievement of Central Florida honored Jack  Blitch, vice president and general manager of Walt Disney Imagineering, with  the organization’s highest award for volunteerism. The Gold Leadership Award is  given to those who inspire local students to succeed in the new global economy.  “Jack’s  spirit of generosity helps Central Florida Junior Achievement students  develop financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work-readiness skills,”  said Craig Polejes, president of Junior Achievement of Central Florida. Learn  more.

Benefit Sale Returns to Raise Funds for United Way

If you’re an early-bird shopper, mark your  calendars for Nov. 5. Shoppers will have a fabulous  opportunity to support Heart of Florida United Way and find special bargains on  merchandise at Downtown Disney stores. Vouchers are required for  admittance to the event and can be purchased for $5 in advance from HFUW. All   proceeds from voucher sales go directly to HFUW-supported health and  human service programs in Central Florida. For more details, go to www.thebenefitsale.com.

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