A look back at 50 years of Disney World magic

Disney

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (NEXSTAR) – As part of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration, the resort is sharing a look back at the past five decades of magic.

On Oct. 1, 1971, Walt Disney World Resort officially opened to guests for the first time. According to Disney, over 10,000 guests showed up at Magic Kingdom on opening day to see the much-anticipated Florida theme park.

While Walt Disney died before the “Florida Project” was completed, his brother, Roy, delayed retirement to help crews finish his brother’s project.

And now, 50 years later, the resort is made up of four theme parks, two water parks, over 20 resort hotels and more.

Here’s a look back at some of the biggest milestones over the past 50 years:

1965
Nov. 15 – Walt Disney and his brother Roy publicly announce plans for Disney World.

1967
May 30 – Groundbreaking officially kicks off construction of Walt Disney World Resort.

1971
Oct. 1 – Walt Disney World officially opens to the public. Phase one includes Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

1973
July 14 – Preliminary plans for EPCOT are announced.

1975
March 22 — Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs) opens.

1977
June 11 – The Main Street Electrical Parade makes its first Florida appearance, which followed its 1972 debut at Disneyland park in California.

1979
Oct. 1 – Construction begins on EPCOT.

1982
Oct. 1 – EPCOT opens.

1983
Dec. 25 – The Walt Disney World Christmas Parade is broadcast live from Magic Kingdom on ABC, going on to become a holiday tradition that continues today.

1984
Jan. 25 – The iconic “I’m Going to Disney World!” commercial debuts when Phil Simms shouts the phrase following Super Bowl XXI.

1988
June 1 – Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park opens.

1989
May 1 – Disney MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) opens.

1991
Dec. 20 – Disney Vacation Club launches.

1994
June 12 – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opens at Disney MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios).

1995
April 1 – Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park opens.

1997
March 28 – ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex opens.

1998
April 22 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park opens on Earth Day.

2001
Oct. 1 – 100 Years of Magic Celebration commences, honoring the 100th anniversary of
Walt Disney’s birth.

2006
April 7 – Expedition Everest opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

2012
Dec. 6 – New Fantasyland opens at Magic Kingdom Park.

2013
MagicBands launch at Walt Disney World Resort.

2015
Sept. 29 – Downtown Disney becomes Disney Springs

2017
May 27 – Pandora – The World of Avatar opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

2018
June 30 – Toy Story Land opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

2019
Aug. 29 – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

2020
March 4 – Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

2021
Oct. 1 – Celebrating 50 years at Walt Disney World, ,“The World’s Most Magical Celebration” begins.

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