Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Walt Disney World turns the big Five-O on Friday, and it’s celebrating in style.
When the Magic Kingdom opened on Oct. 1, 1971, a mere 10,000 (or so) people walked through the turnstiles.
Some of those inaugural visitors shared their memories of opening day with Spectrum News. Determined to be the first family through the gates, the Windsor family spent the night in a gas station parking lot so they could land the first spot in line.
Before the pandemic, the cornerstone park was averaging nearly 21 million visitors a year.
Even amid the pandemic, 2020 saw 7 million people (about 20,000 people a day) visit the Magic Kingdom. And the Magic Kingdom is just one of four parks at the property.
Disney World transformed Orlando into one of the top tourist destinations globally, but at one point, Walt Disney had an eye on sites in Northwest Florida. Fortunately for Central Florida, St. Joe Paper boss Ed Ball turned down a meeting with the animation and entertainment legend.
His words that day: “Mr. Disney, I’m not going to see you today — or any day. I don’t do business with carnival people.”
At its peak, Disney World employed about 77,000 employees, more than 10 times the 6,000 workers on board in 1971. A handful of those inaugural employees are still clocking a half-century later. Unsurprisingly, they’re still feeling the magic.
“Disney has been my love, and it still is,” Earliene Anderson, one of the two dozen or so 50-year employees, told The Associated Press. “I love Disney.”
Even though it’s turning 50, Disney World is not resting on its laurels. The park has plenty of new attractions in store for the coming years — and it announced premiere dates for a couple of them Thursday.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, informally referred to as the “Star Wars hotel,” will open March 1, 2022. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will also open next year.
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“The Democrats’ last best shot to kill the filibuster” via Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic
“Military units track guns using tech that could aid foes” via Ames Laporta, Justin Pritchard and Kristin M. Hall of The Associated Press
“How bad is Joe Biden’s slump?” via Benjamin Wallace-Wells of The New Yorker
“A hospital hit by hackers, a baby in distress: The case of the first alleged ransomware death” via Kevin Poulsen, Robert McMillan and Melanie Evans of The Wall Street Journal
“Florida will be short nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035, report says” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times
“Gov. Ron DeSantis pulls one road from the Everglades, but OKs putting in another” via Kevin Tran of Variety
“How a secret Google geofence warrant helped catch The Capitol riot mob” via Mark Harris of WIRED
“How mental health became a social media minefield” via Rebecca Jennings of Vox
“Docs who help transgender youth could face prison time under Anthony Sabatini bill” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
“It sure seems like a lot of people are choosing to get vaccinated rather than lose their jobs” via Jordan Weissmann of Slate
“White, evangelical and … progressive?” via Alex Samuels of FiveThirtyEight
“The tortured history of the royal spare” via Hadley Hall Meares of Vanity Fair
Quote of the Day
“Orange County considers the threat of fines by the Governor to be an attempted, unauthorized gubernatorial usurpation of epic proportion on Orange County’s basic right and responsibility to protect its employees and to protect the greater collective of the people in its community to keep them safe.” — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, vowing to fight back if the state levies fines over the county’s mask mandate.
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