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.”
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.