Friday, November 11, 2011

Disney Theme Parks: Taking The Fun Global

It all started with an idea. In the late 1940s visionary animator Walt Disney began to seek a way to transform his wildly successful television program, Disneyland, from something existing only in the minds and hearts of viewers and on the television screens to an actual place where people could visit. Walt Disney wanted to create a destination where children and adults could enjoy themselves at the same time in the same place. That idea took physical form with the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 1955. It was the first of the current roster of more than 14 Disney theme parks.

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse 
Disneyland was a groundbreaking concept. It is a place where cartoon characters come to life, walk around and interact with the people who have grown up watching them on television and in the movies. Add innovative rides, fun activities and entertainment for the entire family and you have the theme park Walt Disney envisioned over 60 years ago. But Walt Disney was a true visionary and a tireless worker. Almost as soon as Disneyland was completed he began making a plan and looking for land to make the Disney theme park bigger and better.

Although he did not live long enough to see it open, Walt Disney bought the land and created the plan for what would become Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It opened in 1971 and grew to become the world's most visited theme parks. This Disney park is also the largest single employer in the United States. The park includes the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom. It has served as a model for innovation and growth with an army of 'imagineers' constantly creating new rides and other attractions which encourage people who have visited the park to want to return.

In the 1980s Disney took their theme park contest overseas. Tokyo Disneyland was opened in 1983. It was built by the Disney Imagineers and features the Magic Kingdom. Tokyo Disneyland has Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Westernland and Adventureland, four longtime Disney concepts, along with the World Bazaar, Critter Country and Mickey's Toontown. Tokyo Disneyland is the third most visited theme park on the planet. In 2010 over 14 million people passed through its gates. Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland's sister park, was opened on September 4, 2001. It was the most expensive theme park ever built costing over $4 billion.

Disneyland Paris was the second Disney theme park to be built outside the United States. Located in the suburbs of Paris, France, Disneyland Paris opened in 1992. After a few setbacks, Disneyland Paris is now the most visited theme park in Europe. In March 2002 the park added Walt Disney Studios Park, a concept similar to Disney-MGM Studios. The complex contains 7 Disney themed hotels. Three of them surround Lake Disney. The parks had a combined 15 million visitors in 2010.

The Disney brand continues to grow and provide unparalleled fun and excitement for millions of people around the world.

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Image credit goes to Michael Sult of St. Petersburg, FL

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