Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971, almost five years after the death of its namesake. Walt Disney changed Central Florida, theme parks, movies, and vacationing forever. It’s easy to want to rush through the gates to get in line for a favorite ride, and to forget all about the visionary who was responsible for it all. Here are ten ways that you can honor the man who made your vacation dreams possible, even decades after his death.
10) Call It By Its Correct Name
Disneyland is one word. Walt walked its streets and saw families having a great time. The resort in Florida is officially called “Walt Disney World”. It’s not Disney World, or Disneyworld. Roy Disney, Walt’s brother, insisted that the man’s full name be used on the project that he envisioned but never got to see completed. It only takes a moment to add the “Walt” when you tell family and friends about your trip, and it is the correct name.
9) Pay Attention on the PeopleMover
At the Magic Kingdom you will find a ride called the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. It’s a great ride when you need to sit down for a few minutes, and the line is usually short. While you ride you’ll have a chance to peek inside a couple of other Tomorrowland attractions. If you’re paying attention, you’ll also get a glimpse of early models of Epcot. The EPCOT that Walt Disney imagined and the Epcot that opened in 1982 are very different, as you’ll see from the models. Walt imagined it as a working city; the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. That’s not exactly how it turned out.
8) Meet Mickey
One of the best known Walt Disney quotes is “I hope we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse”. So make sure that you go visit that mouse while you are at Walt Disney World. You can now hold a conversation with Mickey if you visit him in the Magic Kingdom’s Town Square Theater. There are other places where you can often find the non-talking version, including The Magic of Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Epcot Character Spot, and Adventurers Outpost at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Mickey can also be found at some of the character meals. Even if your plans don’t include many character pictures, take the time to meet the mouse who started it all.
7) Enjoy the Time With Your Family
Walt Disney was a family man. His wife and two daughters were everything to him. He wanted his parks to be a place where families could spend quality time together and have fun. Make sure that you do just that! Don’t worry too much about schedules and trying to do it all. Instead, have fun with those that you love. Try not to bicker and don’t get upset about small things. Splurge from time to time. Ride the Prince Charming Regal Carousel a third time if it’s your daughter’s favorite, even if it means you’ll miss your FastPass+ time for Haunted Mansion. Yes, your vacation is expensive, but it’s money better spent if everyone has a great time. It’s what Walt Disney would have wanted.
6) Ride the Walt Disney World Railroad
It is well known that Walt Disney loved trains. Take a trip on the Walt Disney World railroad, and you’ll see why. You can use the ride as a way to relax for several minutes, or the train can be your transportation from one land to another. There are stops on Main Street, U.S.A., in Frontierland, and in Fantasyland. Maybe you or a member of your family will end up loving trains just as much as Walt Disney did.
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5) Notice the Details on Main Street, U.S.A.
It is all too easy to rush through Main Street, U.S.A. on your way to your favorite mountain or another ride. If you don’t take a few minutes to notice the details, you’ll be missing out. The street is supposed to represent small town America of yesteryear. The inspiration for much of the street is Marceline, Missouri, the town where Walt Disney grew up. Enjoying Main Street is like going back in time if you let it be.
4) Head to Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
To learn more about the man whose vision started it all, head over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On Mickey Avenue you will find Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. It is an incredible tribute to the man and his vision. The first part is a museum with artifacts, film clips, and models, among other treasures. After you’ve seen it all there is a 15 minute film on Walt Disney that is hosted by Julie Andrews. You’ll have a new appreciation for Walt Disney World and the Walt Disney Company in general once you’re done.
3) Watch Bear Country Jubilee
In Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom you can watch “The Wildest Show in the Wilderness”. Let go of your inhibitions and sing and clap along with the 18 Audio-Animatronic bears. Doing so is a great way to honor Walt Disney, since the show was one of the last attractions that he helped to develop. Knowing that fact will make the 16 minute show even more special.
2) Ride the 1964 New York World’s Fair Inspired Rides
If you know anything at all about Walt Disney, you’ll know that the 1964 New York World’s Fair was extremely important to him. There are two Walt Disney World classics that are a result of that fair. Head to Fantasyland and ride “it’s a small world”. The Walt Disney World version is a recreation of the one that was featured at the fair. You can also celebrate a “great big beautiful tomorrow” in Tomorrowland with the Carousel of Progress. It has been a part of the Magic Kingdom since 1975. While the moving theater’s show has been updated since the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the spirit and the song remain the same.
1) Appreciate the Partners Statue
At the end of Main Street, U.S.A., but before Cinderella Castle there is a beautiful tribute to Walt Disney and his best friend. Known as the Partners Statue, it is a recreation of Walt standing next to the world’s most famous mouse. They are holding hands, much the same way that thousands of parents hold the hands of their children every day at the Magic Kingdom. It is a must take picture, and a great place to whisper “thank you” to the man whose vision lives on in Central Florida.