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Theme Park Attendance Matches Country’s Population

May 1, 1987

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) _ Walt Disney World greeted visitor No. 242,831,300 at 11:14 a.m. Friday, a number officials said matched the population of the United States at that time.

Kent Robertson, 27, a diesel mechanic from Collinsville, Ill., clicked the turnstiles at the Florida tourist attraction’s Epcot Center to achieve the distinction. He and his family became instant celebrities and received a VIP tour and a lifetime pass to the park.

″Officials from the U.S. Census Bureau notified us that that was the estimated population of this country at that time today,″ said Disney spokesman Dave Herbst.

Robertson was accompanied by his wife Ann, 3-year-old daughter Andrea, his mother Carol Smith and a 4-year-old niece, Raina Wangen.

Disney World opened its doors Oct. 1, 1971. The 100 million-visitor milestone was achieved Oct. 22, 1979. The 200 million mark was reached on July 18, 1985.

″That means that in less than 22 months, we have done more than 42 million in attendance and confirms that we have been running strongly - in excess of 20 million a year since that time,″ said Herbst.

The Walt Disney Co. reported last week that the six months ended March 31 were the most profitable in the company’s history. Revenues were almost $1.6 billion, a 39 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. Net Income for the six months increased 109 percent to more than $181 million.

Last year, the company reached the 500-million attendance figure at its three theme parks: Disneyland in California, Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland.

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