The Evolution of Disney World!

Yesterday was the 30th Anniversary of Disney-MGM Studios Park being opened. Of course, it's now named Disney's Hollywood Studios Park, but it was such a Magical celebration and it really got us interested in the history of Disney World. We dug into the timeline of events and realized that it would be really fun, and fitting, for us to do an "Evolution of Disney World" blog to share with you what we learned! Without further ado, let's start from the very beginning!

The '60s

While Walt Disney World technically did not exist in the '60s, the conception and construction took place at the end of the decade. In 1965, the Orlando Sentinal (the local newspaper) made a surprise announcement that there was a giant land-deal in the works under a series of "dummy" companies names and that they had connected those companies to Walt Disney. As a way of clearing the air, and further promoting the project, Walt requested that the Governor of Florida, Haydon Burns, confirm the story that there would be a new theme park built in Florida. He did not disappoint and called the park "the greatest attraction in the history of Florida". On November 15th, 1965, Walt Disney officially revealed to the public that there would, indeed be a series of theme parks built in the Orlando area.

Unfortunately, Walt Disney passed away on December 15th, 1966, but with the help of his brother and business partner, Roy O. Disney, the Parks would begin construction in 1967. The theme parks would include the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center, later renamed to Epcot, and would feature amusements and rides dedicated to the brand he and Walt had created. 

The '70s

In 1971, the construction of Walt Disney World was finally completed, and guests began pouring in to enjoy the fun. A lot happened on the new Disney property in 1971, actually, with the opening of the Magic Kingdom, the Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses being opened, Disney's Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Village, and the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground! Whew! Busy, busy!

Throughout the remainder of the '70s, several different attractions outside of the Parks were opened, including the Disney Village Resort, The Golf Resort, Discovery Island, and the Walt Disney Village Marketplace.

It wouldn't be until early in the following decade that the Parks would begin their expansion.

The '80s

Right away at the beginning of the decade, the Walt Disney World Conference Center opened - it no longer stands, but it was host to several conferences for small businesses as well as other events. 

However, in 1982, the Magic really started to happen at the Parks. EPCOT Center opened that year, with all kinds of incredible attractions. Originally, EPCOT Center was actually planned as a community for Disney fans and families to live their entire lives. Obviously, this didn't happen, but the inclusion of the "edutainment" attractions and world nations attractions certainly did bring a different feeling than the original Magic Kingdom. 

Later in the decade, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa opened and was followed by Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. Just a year later, in 1989, the third theme park at Walt Disney World was opened - Disney-MGM Studios! It featured a "behind-the-scenes" sort of feel and offered park goers the ability to experience a completely different side of the Disney brand. Following the opening of Disney-MGM Studios, the first waterpark at Disney World, Typhoon Lagoon, was opened and was followed by Pleasure Island.  

The '90s

The '90s were an interesting decade for Disney World. The early years of the decade were filled with Resort openings and different outside-the-parks attractions like Port Orleans Resort and Blizzard Beach. Also, in 1996, EPCOT Center was renamed to Epcot, not that that was anything major, but it's certainly interesting.

However, big attractions joined the fold again in 1998 with the opening of the fourth park at Disney World, Disney's Animal Kingdom! The Animal Kingdom was the first park by Disney that had living attractions, with animals all throughout the park!

Near the end of the decade, with four Parks in full-swing, Disney World was rolling as the number one theme park in the entire world, and it wasn't even close. 

The '00s and '10s

Enter a new millennium and Disney World is still the most popular theme park across the globe. Not much happened as far as new openings in the parks at this time, however, there were closures for the first time in the history of the park. Four of those closures were related to hurricanes and one due to September 11th.

Nearing the end of the '00s decade, in 2008, Disney-MGM Studios made their official name change to Disney's Hollywood Studios, marking the second park name-change in Disney World's history.

The 2010's got started with a bang, with the Fantasyland expansion beginning at the Magic Kingdom in 2012 and getting finished in 2014. In the meantime, Downtown Disney expanded and was changed to Disney Springs and finished construction in 2016.

Finally, capping off the decade (for now), Toy Story Land opened in Hollywood Studios and brought a fresh new look to a park filled with classic film attractions! 

There you have it! It may not be incredibly thorough, but that's the evolution of Walt Disney World! 

Let us know in the comments if you have requests for upcoming blogs! We'd love to feature your idea!


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