Opened in October 1, 1971 the Magic Kingdom is the first of the four theme parks to be built so far at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. While the park started off with a modest two hotels and twenty-three attractions, it has grown to be the most visited theme park in the world with approximately seventeen million visitors in 2011. Similar in design to the Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California the Magic Kingdom further built upon Walt Disney’s vision of the fully immersive visitor experience, making use of tunnels and utility corridors to allow cast members to move about the park out of sight from the guests and maintain the show’s “front of house.”
Interestingly the park is actually built two stories above the ground as the high water table in Florida meant the required tunnels couldn’t be placed underground. The area surrounding the tunnels was filled in with dirt removed from the Seven Seas Lagoon that was being constructed at that time. However as the park grew the original network of corridors wasn’t, and while intended in all subsequent Walt Disney World parks, plans for them were mostly put aside due to financial constraints. Future World at Epcot and Pleasure Island do have small networks of their own.
Roy Oliver Disney’s dedication sits within the Magic Kingdom’s gates:
“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.”
— October 25, 1971