The Worlds of Disney
The Worlds of Disney
The lands that Disney built are probably among the most widely visited theme parks and attractions in the known universe!
It all started with an idea animator and movie maker Walt Disney had to entertain his grandchildren. There wasn’t much around in the 1950’s for the family to do, except watch TV and go to the movies or a local park for an outing.
Walt Disney wanted families to have a real outing, not just a walk in the park, so to speak. At that time Disney had major operations in Burbank, California, but couldn’t obtain enough land to do anything so he started looking around to the comminutes in nearby areas and this gave birth to:
Disneyland in Anaheim, California
Just 30 minutes from Los Angeles or Riverside, an hour and a half from San Diego, Santa Barbara or Bakersfield, this is the oldest of the Disney clan, built in the 1950s.
Until this point the only other types of Amusement parks were roller coaster thrill ride parks such as River View in Chicago and Coney Island in New York. Disneyland didn’t really have roller coasters, but true “theme” rides, which got better and better each year.
Among the most famous are the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “It’s a Small World.”
There were also many innovations displayed at the park, such as the Monorail, made in the 1960’s which was not only a ride that circled the park, but it got you from the Disneyland Hotel into the park.
The Mr. Lincoln animatronics was another innovation. A life size puppet that moved with hydraulics and spoke the Gettysburg address to a large audience.
Disney founded several construction companies, often called “units” that specialized in building these types of attractions. They were located around Burbank and Glendale, near the main studio offices of Disney and included WED Enterprises (Walter E. Disney Enterprises). A long time friend of ours worked there for years as an electronics engineer whose job was to design the speaker system so the sound was uniform for all visitors in all locations.
There were also some product placement sponsored sites, such as the famous “Pepsi” review, which featured singers, musicians and a full stage show in an old-time setting, along with Pepsi to drink at the table.
For the longest time the park was seen via “ticket books” which used to cost about $10 and the “E” ticket was the most prized. Today, the cost is more like $50 but includes all attractions and parking.
While the park is open most of the year, it is in the summer months it truly shines, operating from just after morning light until 9 pm or even later, with fireworks displays and a parade down Main Street. In the “off” season months they tend to open later in the morning and close at dusk, with out all the bells, whistles and parades.
Disney World and Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida
Now the premier showcase of the Disney Empire (mostly because they ran out of available land in Anaheim, so they obtained a huge area in Florida for expansion), with Epcot Center being the central attraction.
Nearby is the “Disneyland” clone “Magic Kingdome Park” and there is a totally different world with “Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park” and making the circle complete is the Disney-MGM Studios.
Next, there are the Disney water parks. Blizzard beach, near the Disney-MGM Studios. Typhoon Lagoon, near Epcot.
These are six separate attractions all within minutes drive of each other. However as the Disney empire expands, one day expect all of these to merge into a mega park!
Located 19 miles outside of Paris at the Marne-la-Vallée / Chessy train station, the park is open to the public from June 10th until September 30th, but longest hours of operation are in July and August during the warm summer months and longest days of the year.
Patterned much after the original Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom of Orlando, the first venture outside the U.S. started off on shaky ground with unanticipated cool weather and cloudy skies. After a few years of operation the park started to get used to the North of France and the North of France stated to get used to Disneyland.
The idea here was part of the original Disney concept for “local” people to have a place to go. In this instance it was for those who always wanted to go to Disneyland, but couldn’t afford a trip to the United States. With A Eurail pass or car anyone could not reach Disneyland in a few hours to half a day, stay in a beautiful area of France and enjoy the decidedly American adventure for under $200.
Disneyland and Disney Sea Park, Tokyo, Japan
Patterned partially from the Orlando, Florida Sea Park and Magic Kingdom, Disney has brought the adventure to the Pacific Rim.
These are, again, two separate attractions with two separate admission charges (5,500 Yen per day, each, although you can buy a yearly pass for both attractions for 69,000 Yen).
Disneyland Hong Kong, China
The newest park in the Disney realm, they offer a summer pass for just $450 HK that is good from July 1 to September 28, which is a real value as compared to the one time price!
Disney is also negotiating to start up parks in Shanghai and eventually Beijing.