Pandora: The World of Avatad
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
The Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s Disneyland-style theme park. Centered around Cinderella’s Castle, the Magic Kingdom is probably the park that people most identify with Walt Disney World. Magic Kingdom is made up of six distinct themed lands: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. The park is designed in a “hub and spoke,” layout where the end of Main Street and Castle forecourt make up the “hub” with the surrounding lands making up the “spokes.” The iconic park is also home to Disney’s three mountains (Splash, Big Thunder, and Space) as well as a wide variety of ride for the whole family to enjoy. Additionally, the Festival of Fantasy afternoon parade and Wishes fireworks spectacular can be seen here daily.
The Magic Kingdom was the first theme park to open at Walt Disney World. It opened its in October 1971 with the monorail resorts The Contemporary and the Polynesian along Fort Wilderness. While Walt Disney did not live to see the start of the construction of the Magic Kingdom, his imprints are all over the park. Walt selected Central Florida as the site of the project, purchased the land, and lead the initial planning. The park is heavily influenced by Disneyland. Both feature castles at the center, surrounded by themed lands. However, one of the main differences is that the Magic Kingdom was built on a much larger scale. As Imagineer and Disney Legend Tony Baxter puts it, “Disneyland is Charming, and Disney World is spectacular.”
There is one big difference between the Magic Kingdom and its predecessor, Disneyland. The guest areas of the Magic Kingdom are actually the “second floor” of the park above the utilidors. The Utilidors, an abbreviation for utility corridors, are a system of tunnels beneath the park that allows cast members to move from one land of the park to another without having to walk through guest areas. Legend has it that Walt saw a Frontierland Cowboy walking through Tomorrowland at Disneyland. This bothered him because the ruined the sense of theme that Walt worked so hard to create, so in his future park, he wanted a way for cast members to easily be able to get around out of the sight of guests. Because of the high water table in Florida, they could not merely dig tunnels beneath the park. Instead, they had to build the area up one whole story and construct the guest areas above the utilidors. The dirt to raise the elevation of the Magic Kingdom came from the Seven Seas Lagoon, a man-made lagoon at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. In total, over 7 million cubic feet of earth was moved to fill in around the utilidors.
The Magic Kingdom opened with 23 attractions on opening day. Walt’s brother Roy dedicated Walt Disney World on October 25. “Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney… and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place … a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn — together.” - Roy O. Disney, October 25, 1971