Disney World questions

I just got back from a three-day trip to Orlando, and find the planning and technology that must have gone into building Disney World incredible! It got me curious: how much did it cost to construct Disney World (I know it was originally only the Magic Kingdom, and not all of the current Disney attractions in central Florida. I mean, how much did the Disney company have to pay in order to have a park that the public could attend?) And also, how long did it take until Disney World itself showed a profit (if records on that were kept in any way separate from the balance sheets of the Disney company in general?

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

I will say that his investors were quite hesitant to believe in his ideas. They were so “far-out” at the time.

By the time Disney World in Orlando was built, ‘investors’ (owners of stock in Disney, presumably) were quite sold on the ideas of Walt Disney regarding theme parks. Please note that Disneyland opened in Southern California in 1955, having cost $17 Million and taking about 1 year to build (see Disney.com | The official home for all things Disney for loads of info; it’s the 45th anniversary year of the park, so they are whooping it up!). Disneyworld in Orlando wasn’t opened until 10/1/71, and Epcot Center at Disney World wasn’t opened until 1982. Presumably you can get all sorts of interesting facts on the building of that park at the go.com network as well. :slight_smile:

What legal jurisdiction is Disneyworld in? Suppose some dev molests Snow White; after the park security guards collar the guy, who does he get turned over to? A county sheriff? Or is Disneyworld officially incorporated as a city, with it’s own police? Is all of Disneyworld in one county/township, or does the park straddle any county lines?

First of all the place is Walt Disney World ™. Like Disneyland, it is also in an Orange County. Disney got the county to create a city for its new park, Lake Buena Vista.

I’m not sure if the city has its own police force however.

Actually, parts of it are in Osceola County (“Since The World Began,” Jeff Kurtti, Hyperion, 1996 p.13).

I’m looking at a picture of an edition of The Orlando Sentinel from 1965, saying “Disney Tells of $100 Million Project.” I’m sure the actual cost was at least triple that.

As for when Walt Disney World first earned a profit- I’m sure creative Disney bookkeeping has forever obscured that bit of info.

Oh, by the way- I forgot to add my comments about the Police Force.

AFAIK, Lake Buena Vista does not have its own police force. Therefore, any crime committed on WDW grounds would have to be in the jurisdiction of the Orange (or Osceola) County police, as opposed to any local PD. Just like if I committed a crime in an unincorporated town (or rual area) here at home-- I’d be prosecuted by the county.

Funny story, that. I was in Disney last week, and stopped by one of the fire stations (“Dalmatian station”) for a quick tour. The Deputy Chief of Operations explained this to me:
When Walt wanted to build Magic Kingdom back in the late 60’s, he went to Orange County and told them he wanted to build a fiberglass castle. After the laughing stopped, they told him he wasn’t going to build it in their county. So, build in a jurisdiction that would let him do what he wanted, the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) was formed. Think of it as a county-in-a-county. This Improvement District has its own fire department, power plant, sewer, waste disposal, etc. They do not, however have their own police force. Law enforcement in RCID is contracted to the Orange County Sheriff. If you call 911, you will get RCID Fire Department, they will transfer you to Orange County. RCID is also not just Disney World, 15% of thier tax base is non-Disney land. They also have their own building code, called the Epcot Code. I haven’t gotten to see it, but from what I understand, its a lot stricter than other accepted building codes. Kind of a neat idea for doing what you want…make your own county.


Nobody ever calls me after they’ve done something smart.

Here’s some links for the above info:

Reedy Creek: http://www.state.fl.us/rcid/

About the Reedy Creek Improvement District: http://www.state.fl.us/rcid/about.html


Nobody ever calls me after they’ve done something smart.

Newsweek or Time had a major Disney article a couple of years back. I recall reading that Disney has something like the world’s 10th largest navy (I guess meaning # of vessels of some kind of size). For what it’s worth. Another mag also did a story on the ugly side of Disney, which was much more interesting. Everything from it’s publishing/movie kingdom (Touchstone, etc) to the Majic Kingdom. Without going in to much detail, my view is that Disney is evil. Of course, now that I’m a dad, I have to at least tolerate it.

Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.
– a Celtic motto

A few years ago, a Disney security patrol attemped to pull over a speeding car on Disney property. The car, full of local drinking teenagers, sped off and a high speed chase occured. The teenager’s car went out of control and the front seat passenger was killed. The boy’s parents sued Disney for wrongful death on the basis that Disney security had no legal right to be involved in a high speed chase because Disney security are security guards rather than police officers. Disney fought hard, and I’m pretty sure it was finally settled with the settlement kept secret.

It came out in court that Orange County didn’t patrol WWW unles called by WWW security. Now there is a bigger Orange County presence on WWW property doing routine patrol.

Disney enjoys many special tax and coding exemptions. The legend is that Walt orginally wanted to build the resort just west of Daytona Beach, but he was having trouble getting the final parcels of land he needed and Orange and Osceola counties were ready to wheel and deal.

Dr P Phillips, a land baron, owned most of southwest Orange and northwest Osceola and his family became quite wealthy when they sold the family orange groves to Disney.

Also, there was once a town near what is now Lake Buena Vista called Vineland, on the southern shores of Big Sand Lake, adjacent to the Orange County Sportsmens Club. It still exist as a ghost town. It’s kinda of eerie seeing a ghost town with highrise hotels in the backdrop.

For another story about Disney theme parks, see http://www.brillscontent.com/ (click on 1998 Archive, December 1998/January 1999, and Cover Story: mouse-ke-fear).

You’re only as old as you look.

Guys you want the inside stories on Disneyland, a absolute must read is Mouse Tales: A behind the Ears Look at Disneyland.

Absolutely hilarious and interesting. You find out about the infamous Disneyland Deaths, the practical jokes the park workers played on each other. (Example…the Jungle Cruise captains swinging past a boat in their underwear and dancing with the natives), and some rather strange tales of naughtyness of all kinds. So good they made a 2nd with some things about Disneyworld too.

Tyler Durden: You are not your job. You are not the money in your bank account. You are not the car you drive. You are not how much money is in your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

The best book I’ve read about “behind the scenes” at WDW is The Unofficial Disney Companion by Eve Zibart. Walt was actually looking at St. Louis until “Adolph Busch stood up at a business dinner and demanded that the park sell beer.”
Pretty interesting. Also, they were looking at the Palm Beach area before finally deciding on the final location. He liked the area and they got it all for an average of less that $200 an acre.
Wow. This book also says that it ended up costing over 3 times 125 million, but I don’t know if that was for the whole World or just Magic Kingdom. Also: “In its first year, according to corporate reports, the park made nearly a 22-million-dollar profit.” Subsequent years produced profits of 40 million and doubling again by 1980.
Hope this answered your questions. Anymore questions, let me know.

Well, either you’re closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge or you are not aware of the power of the presence of a pool table in your community. Ya’ got trouble my friends! -
Prof. Harold Hill
Gary Conservatory
Gold Medal Class