Disney’s theme parks operate on a scale unmatched by any other theme park operator. Each of the company’s resorts employs tens of thousands of Cast Members, welcomes millions of guests annually and serves up tens of millions of drinks, meals and snacks every year.
There are literally thousands of intriguing facts about the Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland.
In what may become a regular feature, we’ve picked out 5 of the most intriguing facts to share with your friends and family during your next visit.
Editor’s note: We’re currently experimenting with a number of potential new regular features here on Theme Park Tourist. Let us know in the comments if you’d like to see this particular feature become a regular fixture.
5. A size comparison
The largest Disney theme park is: Disney's Animal Kingdom The smallest is: Walt Disney Studios, Paris
Different sources quote different sizes for Disney's various theme parks. For example, Disney's Animal Kingdom is frequently cited as being the largest theme park in the world at 580 acres. However, some areas of the park are as yet undeveloped or not accessible to the public. Disney's own website claims that the park covers either 500 acres or 403 acres. We've gone with the lower figure to be on the safe side.
Here’s a complete rundown of the sizes of Disney’s various theme parks:
- Disney's Animal Kingdom - 403 acres
- Epcot - 300 acres
- Tokyo DisneySea - 176 acres
- Disney's Hollywood Studios - 135 acres
- Disneyland Paris - 126 acres
- Tokyo Disneyland - 115 acres
- Magic Kingdom - 105 acres
- Disneyland - 85 acres
- Disney California Adventure - 72 acres
- Hong Kong Disneyland - 68 acres
- Walt Disney Studios, Paris - 62 acres
Things to note:
- Disneyland Paris is the largest "Magic Kingdom-style" park at a Disney resort.
- The smallest parks have received the most attention recently. Disney California Adventure underwent a $1.1 billion overhaul, Hong Kong Disneyland added three new lands and Walt Disney Studios opened Ratatouille: L'Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy this summer.
4. Constructing an icon
Cinderella Castle is the iconic fairytale image of the Magic Kingdom, rising to a height of 189 feet tall. This is just short enough to keep it below the Federal Aviation Authority's 200-foot limit, beyond which buildings must display a flashing red light at their top.
The castle took 18 months to construct. The inner structure consists of a 600-ton steel-braced frame, while a 10-inch-thick reinforced concrete wall encircles it to the height of the outermost "stone" walls. Most of the exterior of the building was built using fiber-reinforced gypsum plaster, with fiberglass being used for the walls of some of the ornate towers. The towers consists of plastic attached to a cone of steel, and were lifted into place by a crane before being bolted onto the main structure.
The castle uses "forced perspective" techniques to appear larger - as it gets taller, its width gets smaller. This has the added effect of making fireworks that explode behind it look larger and more impressive.
The luxurious Cinderella Castle Suite sits in the upper floors of the castle. Unfortunately, you can't make a reservation for the suite. You can't even join a waiting list. You have to win your stay.
3. The 21 summits
Ever since the Matterhorn opened at Disneyland in 1959, Disney has become something of a specialist at building fake mountains. These towering structures are largely built using steel and concrete, but you'd be hard-pressed to tell them from the real thing at first glance. Particularly as you'll usually be racing past them on a roller coaster or some other contraption.
There are 21 mountains in place at Disney's theme parks at present, with several more under construction at Shanghai Disneyland. In the real world, mountaineers like to take on the "Seven Summits" challenge, scaling the highest peak on every continent. Disney fans could take on a similar challenge, attempting to scale all of the company's faux mountains.
We're a little dubious about some of theheights that Disney lists for its mountains. For example, we really doubt that Big Thunder Mountain is 90+ feet taller at the Magic Kingdom than it is at Disneyland, but that's what Disney's stats claim. The explanation is that sometimes Disney lists the height from sea level (as at the Magic Kingdom), and sometimes it lists it from ground level (as at Disneyland).
Here are the five tallest Disney mountains (you can find a full list here):
- Forbidden Mountain (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) – 199 feet
- Big Thunder Mountain (Disneyland Paris) – 197 feet
- Big Thunder Mountain (Magic Kingdom) – 197 feet
- Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom) – 180 feet
- Mount Prometheus (Tokyo DisneySea) – 168 feet