The first Disney Park was opened in Anaheim California, in 1955, but soon it was captured by sprawling businesses and Walt thought it would very favorable to open a park which had existing infraestructure to support the flow of visitors he expected, and at the same time, offer a more accesible and larger environment to the rest of the country. He thought of a park where breakthroughs in science and technology could coexist with the original Disney vision of themed entertainment He flew to Orlando and purchased a larger property than the one in Disneland, 25,000 acres, and started building his dream park. He chose the site, because he thought it was very convenient, since all the freeway routes bisected there.
He envisioned a city of the future with Epcot ( "Experimental Prototype Community (or City) of Tomorrow") . incorporating a working community where his ideas about urban planning could be tested. The theme park that eventually opened under the Epcot name bore little resemblance to this vision, though the neighboring planned community of Celebration, which was founded by the Walt Disney Company, incorporates a few of the ideas.
Unfortunately, he died of lung cancer in 1971, and was unable to see his vision come true. His brother Roy took over and opened the park on October,1, 1971 and named it Walt Disney World after his brother: "Everyone has heard of Ford cars. But have they all heard of Henry Ford, who started it all? Walt Disney World is in memory of the man who started it all, so people will know his name as long as Walt Disney World is here."
From Wiki Disney:
On February 2, 1967, Roy Disney held a press conference in Winter Park, Florida. The role of EPCOT was emphasized in the film that was played, the last one recorded by Walt Disney before his death. After the film, it was explained that, for Walt Disney World to succeed, a special district would have to be formed: the Reedy Creek Improvement District with two cities inside it, the City of Bay Lake and the City of Reedy Creek (now the itle="Lake Buena Vista, Florida">City of Lake Buena Vista). In addition to the standard powers of an incorporated city, which include tax-free bonds, the Improvement District would have total immunity from any current or future county or state land-use laws. The only areas where the District had to submit to the county and state would be property taxes and elevator inspections.
The laws forming the District and the two Cities was signed into law on May 12, itle="1967">1967. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 1968 that the District was allowed to issue tax-exempt bonds for public projects within the district, despite the sole beneficiary being The Walt Disney Company.
Construction of drainage canals was soon begun by the Improvement District, and Disney built the first roads and the Magic Kingdom and its first resorts.
Roy died just 3 months after the park was opened.
Disney is basically composed of 4 theme parks:Three other theme parks were added over the years:
Magic Kingdom, Epcott Center, Hollywood Studios (known before as MGM), and Animal Kingdom. Each park is represented by an iconic structure.
Magic Kingdom – Cinderella Castle. It opened in 1971.
Epcot – Spaceship Earth. It opened in 1982.
Disney's Hollywood Studios – The Sorcerer's Hat (formerly the Earful Tower). It opened in 1989.
Disney's Animal Kingdom – The Tree of Life. It opened in 1998.
It also has 2 water parks:Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
Other attractions include: Downtown Disney, Disney's BoardWalk,Disney's Wedding Pavilion,ESPN
Wide World of Sports Complex and Walt Disney World Speedway (Home of the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Disney's property includes five golf courses. The four 18-hole golf courses are the Palm (4½ Stars), the Magnolia (4 Stars), Lake Buena Vista (4 Stars) and Osprey Ridge (4½ Stars). There is also a nine-hole walking course called Oak Trail, designed for young golfers. The Magnolia and Palm courses play home to the PGA Tour's Children's Miracle Network Classic. Additionally, there are two themed miniature golf complexes, each with two courses, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland.
Catch-and-release fishing excursions are offered daily on the resort's lakes. A Florida fishing license is not required because it occurs on private property. Cane-pole fishing is offered from the docks at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort Camp; Campground and Disney's Port Orleans Resort.
Additional recreational activities include watercraft rentals, surrey bike rentals, and firework cruises that launch from several resort marinas.
There are 33 resorts and hotels located on the Walt Disney World property. Of those, 24 are owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company.
Disneyland has always made use of various modes of transportation -- both for the purpose of moving people, as well as the fun of using unique or unusual means of conveyance. The Disneyland railroad, the people mover, the monorail, the main street carriages and vehicles, and the boats form a large transportation system. Another innovation at WDW versus Disneyland is the incredible transportation system. Buses, boats of several sizes and shapes, trams, trains, and monorails are designed into the greatest non-public transportation system in the world. If you stay at a Disney resort on the property of WDW, you will be able to take full advantage of the ability to move from place to place...without needing your own vehicle.
Just as an estimate of attendance to the park, according to Wikipedia:
The June 2011 AECOM Theme Park Attendance report for the year of 2010, included the following information:
Magic Kingdom, 16.97 million visits (No. 1 worldwide)
Disney's Animal Kingdom, 9.67 million visits (No. 7)
Epcot, 10.83 million visits (No. 5)
Disney's Hollywood Studios, 9.60 million visits (No. 8)
Needless to say, just to see the smile in the face of our grandchild and to revive the memories of those days when our children, taken by our hands, entered for the first time the threshhold of this magical world...when the father of this precious little girl lit our lives with his unmatched loud and merry laughter...drew us to the verge of happy tears. This time it has been by the graciousness of her mom who shared with us these happy moments, that we were able to fulfill once more the dream of smiling in a world of magical imagination and to stick out our tongues to old age!