Disneyland versus Disney World

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Disney World: view towards the Dolphin and Swan Hotels

Disney World: birds and trees at Disney's Animal Kingdom park

Disney World: model of the town of Celebration's first phase

The original California Disneyland feels small in comparison to the vast expanse of Disney World in Florida. One motive for the Disney purchase of a county-sized tract in Florida was so that the corporation could capture secondary cash flows from hotels, restaurants and other enterprises; it had watched greedily as such businesses had sprung up outside California Disneyland's limits.

But the effect of Disney World's expanse goes beyond that financial calculation. You drive wide roads through the vegetation, past entrances to the several parks, resorts, and hotels, and the town of Celebration just south of the official World. Compared to earlier amusement parks, this is a whole planet of attractions. The places all relate to one another -- even though each themed place tries to be complete and enclosing, it gains momentum from the nearby presence of the others. It is not just one place or attraction you have entered but a beckoning richness. The effect extends beyond Disney's land to the other Orlando themed attractions and parks. This is not just a matter of "so much to do, so little time" but a perception of the park you are in as enriched by the glittering background of the others, encouraging comparison and distraction and more doubling of attention.

(For an overview with maps, the Disney site in Canada is more convenient than the US site, which is over-designed and takes longer to display. The Canadian site proclaims "Welcome to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida - a magical world of 4 Theme parks, 2 Water parks, fantastic themed Hotels, and a host of dining, shopping, and entertainment favourites. Located in sunny Orlando, Florida, the Walt Disney World Resort covers a vast area of 122 square kilometres - about the size of the city of Ottawa!")