History of Walt Disney World: How the Magic Began

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Uncovering the shocking secrets and hidden gems of the beloved vacation destination. Discover the untold history of Walt Disney World and the incredible journey that brought the happiest place on earth to life!

It all began 50 years ago when Walt Disney World opened to the public. Fast forward to today, the park continues to bring exciting new adventures that are bigger and better than ever before! Despite how big it has become, people tend to not know much about its past and what it oncewas. Did you know that Magic Kingdom was the first park to open in 1971, with EPCOT coming ten years later? Shortly after that, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom became one of the main Parks! Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach joined Disney World Water Parks in the late 1980s to mid-1990s. You'll learn about Walt Disney World's history, including some forgotten details, before your visit.

Epcot Fireworks

Walt Disney World Expanding

It wasn’t until 1963, that Disney came to Florida! It was widely recognized as “the greatest attraction in the history of Florida,” which was a significant event for locals.

Unfortunately, Walt Disney shortly passed before he saw his project complete and the grand opening of Walt Disney World. However, that didn’t stop the construction team from completing the project, leading to an early completion and the 1971 opening of Disney World’s first theme park, Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World Opening After Walt Disney passed away, his brother, Roy O. Disney took complete charge of the process.

1971 was THE year for Magic Kingdom, which kicked off the Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Village, and two golf courses! After its grand opening on October 1, 1971, one month later, Fort Wilderness was opened. Roy named it “Walt Disney World” to credit his brother as the driving force behind the project. Moving on, coincidentally, back in 1971, you could have gotten a Magic Kingdom ticket for $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for kids under 18, and $1 for children under the age of 12. Nowadays, those prices have skyrocketed and continued to increase every year.

Guardians of the galaxy ride

EPCOT History

Walt Disney planned an experimental community to test innovations before he passed, but it was ultimately abandoned. However, they did intertwine it with EPCOT when they were designing the park. EPCOT Center, later renamed EPCOT, contained many of Walt’s ideas including innovation through attractions and presenting a world
nation’s exposition.

Tron Ride

Hollywood Studios History

While this was the third theme park to open, its original development was to include a theme park mixed with a show business named Disney-MGM. That involved a fully operating production studio for film, television, and music with a backlot for animation productions. It
wasn’t until years later that the theme park was renamed Disney Hollywood Studios and began to fade out the “studio-like” attractions so that the focus was shifted more towards viewer appeal development and bringing out the Hollywood-inspired stories!

Animal Kingdom History

This theme park was one of the last ones to be built, as it opened on Earth Day in 1998. This was an ideal fit for its theme of animal conservation. Animal Kingdom was built to honor our animals and the natural environment which Walt Disney was passionate about. It is famous for showcasing hundreds of live animals while also integrating a uniqueness to the park that features effects while you look at the animals!

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Early 2000s

Once the 2000s hit, Disney World became expanding, growing by the minute. The Animal Kingdom Lodge opened and was home to over 200 animals and remains the largest collection of African art in the USA. This same year, Walt would have turned 100, so they celebrated 100 years of Magic in honor of the genius himself. There were parades in all of the Parks, with Hollywood Studios placing a 122 ft tall Sorcerer Mickey Hat and Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, where visitors can take a look into the life of the man behind the magic. After a few years passed, in 2004 Disney lauded the Photopass for guests during their vacation! Following this, there were several grand openings and celebrations such as Soarin’ and Lights, Motors,

Action! Extreme Stunt Show, and The Happiest Celebration on Earth that saluted Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. In full, the early 2000s were a chunk of years that developed Disney World further in an immense way.

Early 2010s

From 2011 on, the addition of attractions never stopped! The resorts got a luxury residential community that was created based on Walt's vision for EPCOT. In 2012, Art of Animation Resort opened, presenting a new style of accommodations for families. This is one of the areas that you must check out, as my family adores the suites there! That same year, New Fantasyland opened in Magic Kingdom which offers the Be Our Guest restaurant along with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!

seven dwarfs mine train

After this, 2013 was the year that Disney implemented Magic Bands and the My Disney Experience mobile app for all of their guests to have easy access. The technological advancements did not stop there though! It took nearly three more years for construction to complete the beloved Disney Springs that showcases retail, dining, and entertainment for guests to visit! One of the newer sites includes Pandora – The World of Avatar opening in 2017, completing the idea of ‘imagined” animals and two new attractions, dining, and retail locations.

Lastly, one year later, Toy Story Land was opened in Hollywood Studios which allows guests to explore Andy’s backyard! As you can tell, the list goes on and on, and Disney does not plan on putting a halt to their building anytime soon as there are already new projects in the works for the future as we speak!

50th Anniversary Conclusion

How could we forget a few years back in 2021 when Disney World celebrated its 50-year celebration? 50 years of magical fun all thanks to Walt Disney himself, as he was the man who made it possible for Disney World to be what it is today! Even though he was not able to see his project complete, he is surely looking

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