15 Most Interesting Facts About Walt Disney World

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Fun facts about Disney that might surprise you

I like trivia. I always have. But, after all these years, I’ve found a suitable outlet for decades of accrued knowledge, useless and otherwise: Fatherhood. Like Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold, I love bestowing former useless accumulations that have gathered dust in my brain since they weaseled their way in. So, without further ado, here are some interesting facts about Walt Disney World:

Walt Disney World is full of mysteries, Easter eggs and fun facts. For example, did you know that Magic Kingdom is built on the second story? Or that Walt Disney once had a secret apartment in Disneyland? Keep reading to find out more fun facts about Walt Disney World.

Main Street Magic Kingdom Flag at Night
The flags on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom differ from the American flag to avoid violating flag etiquette (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com

1. The flags on Main Street are not American flags

The flags waving above Main Street are not American flags. Specifically, the flags differ slightly, missing a star or a stripe, which means they can be left up permanently without violating American flag etiquette.

2. Mosquitoes are rare at Disney World

The Walt Disney World Resort is located in Central Florida. The resort features a lot of water and a lot of woods and forests. Consequently, it should be a massive breeding ground for mosquitoes. However, Walt Disney World Resort has an extensive mosquito prevention and monitoring program. Mosquitos need stagnant water to breed. The program involves mosquito predators like bats as well as various intricate drainage ditch systems that keep the water in the park moving.

Walt Disney Presents at Hollywood Studios
The Walt Disney Presents exhibit at Hollywood Studios shares information about Disney’s history (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

3. Disney himself never won an award for a full-length feature

He received an honorary Oscar for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Also, “Fantasia” earned Disney an honorary Oscar. “Mary Poppins” was nominated for Best Picture but didn’t win. “Pinocchio” won Best Original Score and Best Original Song, but these awards did not go to Walt himself. He also earned the Irving Thalberg Award for his career contributions to the industry.

4. Walt Disney had a secret apartment at Disneyland

When Disneyland California opened in Anaheim, the huge amusement park had a secret apartment for Disney and his family overlooking Main Street. The lamp would be lit to alert staff that he was in residence. That lamp remains lit all the time now in his honor.

goofy character next to a dog
The Goofy character is a dog (dog photo by smrm1977/shutterstock.com)

5. Goofy is a dog

The Goofy character was born as Dippy Dawg. Dippy was an older version of the character and had a white beard.

6. Walt Disney loved Peter Pan

Disney was enamored with Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up, for obvious reasons. But he also played Peter Pan in high school.

7. Walt Disney had help designing Mickey Mouse

A man named Ub Iwerks met Disney while working at an art studio in Kanas City, Missouri in 1919. The two founded an animation film studio called Laugh-O-Gram Studios which fairly quickly filed for bankruptcy. However, when a New York film distributor named Margaret Winkler bought their short animated film “Alice’s Wonderland,” it became a hit and the boys were in business.

When Walt moved to California to join his brother Roy O. Disney and founded the Disney Brothers Studio, Walt convinced Iwerks to move West as well. When a copyright case cost the company the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney and Iwerks created Mortimer Mouse. Iwerks eventually refined a sketch done by Walt that would become Mickey. The two ultimately had a falling out and Iwerks went on to a lengthy career in animation. In 1989, long after both he and Walt had gone on to the great beyond, Iwerks was named a Disney legend.

The Germany Pavilion Garden Railway
The Germany Pavilion Garden Railway at EPCOT is a joy for railroad fans (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

8. Walt Disney was enamored with railroads

Disney’s fascination with railroads began in his early life. Later in life, he built the Carolwood Pacific Railroad miniature train system in his backyard. It featured an incredible 2,615 feet of tracks.

9. Walt Disney enlisted in the Red Cross Ambulance Corps at the age of 16

In 1918, a 16-year-old Walt Disney joined the Red Cross and served with the Ambulance Corps. He tried to join the military but was too young. Disney doctored his birth certificate to appear as though he was 17 to qualify for the Red Cross. He arrived in France just after the end of the war.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Magic Kingdom
The Disney World Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, inspired by the movie (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

10. When ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ came out, that was the accepted plural

The term dwarves – which first came into usage in the early 1800s – gained in popularity on the heels of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.

11. ‘The Jungle Book’ was the final Disney movie made under Walt’s supervision

Conversely, “The Aristocats” was the last film he approved.

Magic Kingdom Fall with Pumpkins
Some characters can only be seen during the spookiest of seasons (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

12. Guests may see rare characters at Halloween

Several Disney characters only come out during the spooky season, including Jack Skellington and Sally. Rabbit from the Winnie the Pooh gang can also be a rare find as are the cast members from less popular Disney movies like “Meet the Robinsons” and “Tarzan”. Bambi’s Thumper and Miss Bunny used to be around the Animal Kingdom for the 75th anniversary of the movie, but that’s another of the rare sightings.

13. Disney World tickets were $3.50 for adults on opening day

Kids could get a ticket for only $1.

14. The futuristic hotel The Contemporary was built in 1971

The hotel featured a unique plan. On-site, the frames of the structure were built. However, the rooms that were built in concrete pods were built off-site. When finished, the pods were loaded by crane into the frame. The idea was to save time and money and allow for the rooms to be removed and changed out if necessary. But the plan didn’t go smoothly and cost much more than just building the thing in a traditional style would have.

15. The Magic Kingdom is on the second floor

Florida – if you haven’t noticed – is pretty flat. However, the entrance to the Magic Kingdom is up a hill. But it’s not because Disney decided to build on one of the few hills in Florida. Disney wanted workers to be able to move freely – and mostly unnoticed throughout the park. Therefore, they built up. The first floor can’t be seen by the public. It serves as an “underground” system of passageways and rooms that allows workers, characters and more to access various parts of the park, deliver concessions and remove garbage with minimal interaction with the public. 


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John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

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