Walt Disney World has gotten so huge that it’s easy to forget that it was all started with one man and one dream. Walt’s influence and vision is scattered all over the industry and parks, but there are certain attractions and experiences that truly allow him to shine through. Here are just a few:
1. Walt Disney Presents
This experience is a special behind the scenes look at the man and legacy of Walt Disney. It’s sort of like a gallery exhibition at a museum. At this gallery in Hollywood Studios, guests can view sketches, models, props, and more from Walt’s life and career. The impressive collection features 100 years of Disney magic.
2. One Man’s Dream
After your visit at Walt Disney Presents, stick around for One Man’s Dream. The gallery of Walt Disney Presents leads you straight to it. This 15-minute documentary is an intimate insight on Walt Disney’s life, often in his own words. It’s truly important to grasp the scope of who Walt was, and the empire he created.
3. Keys to the Kingdom Tour
For an additional ticketed price, guests can also indulge in a one of a kind, behind the scenes tour of the Magic Kingdom. In this four-hour tour, guests are taken all around – and below – the classic park. Here you’ll learn about Walt’s vision and how certain aspects came to fruition. This is a cool angle to see Walt shining through because it’s not open to everyone and you can kind of get into his headspace a bit!
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4. Getting a Picture with the Partners Statue
The statue of Walt and Mickey in front of Cinderella Castle has become iconic. It’s a towering bronze statue of the two friends – and partners – hand in hand overlooking Magic Kingdom. Their backs are to the Castle, while they stare proudly over Main Street and beyond. This makes for a beautiful and significant photo op.
5. Ride the Walt Disney World Railroad
Did you know that Walt Disney LOVED trains? He even had a miniature model in his backyard! So it’s only fitting that Walt set up the Walt Disney World Railroad in Disneyland and then WDW. Clearly there are several Walt touches around the Parks, but the railroad is one of the few things that’s there just because he loved it. Guests can usually ride a train around Magic Kingdom, with stops at Main Street, Frontierland, and Fantasyland.
6. Ride It’s a Small World
Perhaps the most historic ride in Disney World, It’s a Small World is iconic. This ride was actually introduced at the 1964-1964 New York World’s Fair. It was sort of Walt’s baby. It was so popular at the World’s Fair that Walt brought it to Disneyland and then Disney World. This ride is so beloved, with a theme song that’ll stay stuck in your head for days!
7. Read the Names on the Main Street Windows
Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom is actually a treasure trove of Walt Disney shout outs. This beautiful, magical street is pays homage to Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri. Also make sure to pay close attention to the windows above the shops: many of them have business names that are related to Walt. For example, there’s a company called “Elias Construction,” which is a tribute to Walt’s father and middle name, Elias.
8. Ride Carousel of Progress
Carousel of Progress is another original Walt Disney creation. Like Small World, this attraction began at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. Walt shines through this one because it’s the world and future as he saw them. Our current present has now surpassed his expectations of the future, but the ride is still as endearing as ever. And Walt’s famous optimism shines through the “great, big, beautiful tomorrow.”
9. Go on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
The PeopleMover gives a fun ten-minute towering tour of Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. In one section of the ride, guests get a sneak peak into Walt’s community prototype – the original idea for Epcot. This is another example of seeing into Walt’s imagination. This is the future that he envisioned and wanted. It’s cool to envision that too.
10. Meet Mickey
Mickey was Walt’s baby. Mickey spearheaded the movement. Everyone loves meeting the adorable mouse. To meet Mickey in the Parks now is a beautiful tribute to Walt. It’s a way to see the progress and to see the promise of Disney. As Walt famously said, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”