In 2021 Walt Disney World will be 50 years old. A lot has happened in those first 50 years, and 2020 was perhaps the most eventful in its history. Here are some of the biggest events in the History of Walt Disney World:
- In 1965 Walt Disney announced the Florida Project. Unfortunately, Walt did not see his vision come to life. Walt passed away in 1966 from lung cancer.
- The construction of Walt Disney World started in 1967.
- On October 1, 1971, the Magic Kingdom opened its doors to 10,000 guests. Also opening that day were Disney Contemporary Resort & Polynesian Resort. Opening shortly afterward was the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Before the Magic Kingdom opening, The Palm and Magnolia golf courses opened a few weeks earlier.
- The Magic Kingdom expanded fast in those initial years. Attractions added included Pirates of The Caribbean in 1973, Space Mountain in 1975 & Big Thunder Mountain in 1980.
- Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened in 1975, featuring clusters of boutique and handicraft merchandise shops. This area has been expanded several times and today is part of Disney Springs.
- In 1976 the first water park at Walt Disney World, Disney’s River Country, opened. River Country would close permanently in 2001 and is the site of the future Walt Disney World resort, Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge. However, it is believed Lakeside Lodge will not be built and instead transfer to Neverland.
- In 1982 Epcot Center opened, becoming the 2nd theme park in Walt Disney World.
- In 1986 the resort’s first 4-D film, Captain EO starring Michael Jackson, opens at Epcot.
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa opened in 1988. Since 1988 numerous additional Walt Disney World Resorts have opened. The latest resort is Disney’s Riviera Resort which opened in December 2019.
- In 1989 Hollywood Studios opened. The park was initially called Disney-MGM Studios.
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water-park opened on June 1st, 1989.
- The first Disney Vacation Property opened in 1991. Disney’s Old Key West was initially named Disney’s Vacation Club Resort until it was renamed in January 1996.
- 1995 saw the opening of Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
- Also opening in 1995 was Disney’s Wedding Pavilion.
- In 1998 Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the 4th park, opened.
- The original FastPass arrived at Walt Disney World in 1999.
- 1999 saw the first closure of the Walt Disney World resort when Hurricane Floyd hit Orlando.
- Between 2012-2014 New Fantasyland was opened at the Magic Kingdom.
- On September 29, 2015, Downtown Disney was officially renamed Disney Springs. The conversion to Disney Springs was not completed until 2016 when the Town Center opened.
- Recent expansion has included Pandora – The World of Avatar in 2017 & Toy Story Land in 2018.
- 2019 saw the opening of the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios.
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Studios opened on March 4, 2020.
- March 16, 2020, Walt Disney World closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom reopened to the public on July 11th, followed by Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot on July 15th.
- 2021 the delayed Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open in Epcot.
- “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” will be an 18-month celebration of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, starting October 1, 2021.
- There are several new attractions planned for Walt Disney World, including a reimagination of Epcot. However, the resort closure has led to the delay or cancelation of some of these pans. Expect to hear news about the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and the new Star Wars Resort soon.
To learn more about Walt Disney World visit our 2021 Guide to Walt Disney World.