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INTERCOT > Theme Parks > History 

Walt Disney World Resort: World History


MILESTONES:
Nov. 11, 1965 Walt Disney announces Florida Project
Fall 1967 Site preparation begins
Spring 1969 Construction begins on Magic Kingdom, two hotels
Oct. 1, 1971 Opening day for Walt Disney World Vacation Kingdom
December 1971 Inaugural Walt Disney World Golf Classic
March 1975 Walt Disney Village opens
June 1976 River Country water adventure park opens
Oct. 1, 1982 Epcot grand opening
May 1, 1989 Disney-MGM Studios opens
June 1, 1989 Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island open
January 1994 Inaugural Walt Disney World Marathon
April 1, 1995 Blizzard Beach water adventure park opens
June 1995 Michael Eisner announces Disney's Animal Kingdom
July 1995 Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings Pavilion opens
January 1996 Inaugural Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Resort
January 1997 Walt Disney World Resort celebrates 25 years
September 1997 Downtown Disney opens
March 1997 Disney's Wide World of Sports opens
April 22, 1998 Disney's Animal Kingdom opens
June 1998 DisneyQuest opens
July 1998 Disney Cruise Line launches first ship, the Disney Magic
December 1998 Cirque du Soleil La Nouba opens at Downtown Disney West Side
March 1999 Asia opens in Disney's Animal Kingdom
July 1999 Launch of Disney's FASTPASS
August 1999 Disney Cruise Line's new ship, Disney Wonder, makes its maiden voyage
Oct. 1, 2001 100 Years of Magic celebration begins
Oct. 9, 2003 Launch of Magical Gatherings program
January 2005 Launch of "Magic Your Way"
May 5, 2005 "Happiest Celebration on Earth" begins, celebrating 50 years of Disney parks
October 4, 2006 Year of a Million Dreams celebration begins
2008 Disney MGM Studios name change to Disney's Hollywood Studios; Pleasure Island permanently closes; Year of a Million Dreams celebration ends
2009 Fantasyland Expansion announced
2010 Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex renamed ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
2012 New Fantasyland opens at Magic Kingdom; My Disney Experience App launches
2014 Fastpass+ debuts
2015 Star Wars and Toy Story themed lands announced as part of the expansion of Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park
   
ATTENDANCE MARKS:
August 1972 Attendance passes 10 million
March 1976 50-millionth guest
October 1979 100-millionth guest
July 1987 Total attendance tops 250 million
August 1992 400-millionth guest
September 1994 1-billionth guest to a Disney theme park worldwide
Oct. 13, 1995 500-millionth guest
June 24, 1998 600-millionth guest
August 2003 50-millionth water park guest
   
NEW ATTRACTION OPENINGS:
1971 26 Magic Kingdom attractions: Jungle Cruise; Swiss Family Treehouse; Sunshine Pavilion (Tropical Serenade); Cinderella's Golden Carrousel; Dumbo, the Flying Elephant; Mad Tea Party; Mickey Mouse Revue; Mr. Toad's Wild Ride; "it's a small world"; Snow White's Adventures; Diamond Horseshoe Revue; Frontier Shooting Gallery; Country Bear Jamboree; Mike Fink Keel Boats; Hall of Presidents; Haunted Mansion; Main Street horseless carriage, Jitney, fire truck, horse-drawn streetcar and omnibus; Main Street Cinema; Walt Disney World Railroad; Skyway; Tomorrowland Speedway; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
1972 If You Had Wings
1973 Pirates of the Caribbean; Walt Disney Story; Swan Boats; Tom Sawyer Island
1974 StarJets; "Magic Carpet 'Round the World" film
1975 Space Mountain; Carousel of Progress; WEDway PeopleMover; Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes
1980 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
1982 Five Future World and nine World Showcase pavilions at Epcot: Spaceship Earth; The Land; Journey Into Imagination; Universe of Energy; World of Motion; Canada; United Kingdom; France; Mexico; Germany; Italy; China; Japan; American Adventure
1983 Horizons (EC)
1984 Morocco pavilion (EC); "American Journeys" film (MK)
1986 The Living Seas (EC); "Captain EO" (EC)
1988 Mickey's Starland (MK); Norway pavilion(EC); Disney-MGM Studios production facilities
1989 Dreamflight (MK); Wonders of Life (EC); original Disney-MGM Studios attractions: Great Movie Ride; Disney-MGM Studios Backlot Tour; Magic of Disney Animation; "Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!"; Behind the Scenes Special Effects walking tour; Superstar Television; Monster Sound Show
1990 Star Tours; "Here Come the Muppets" show; "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" Movie Set Adventure
1991 "Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D" (ST)
1992 Splash Mountain (MK); Voyage of the Little Mermaid (ST)
1993 ATAS Hall of Fame plaza (ST)
1994 Innoventions (EC); The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (ST); Legend of The Lion King (MK); "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" (EC); The Timekeeper (MK); Theater of the Stars (ST)
1995 New Tomorrowland (MK) including The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
1996 Mickey's Toontown Fair (MK); Universe of Energy (EC)
1998 Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (MK); "The Enchanted Tiki Room-Under New Management" (MK); original Animal Kingdom attractions: The Boneyard; Countdown to Extinction; Cretaceous Trail; Kilimanjaro Safaris; Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail; Wildlife Express; Conservation Station; "It's Tough to be a Bug"
1999 Test Track (EC); Disney's Winter Summerland miniature golf course; Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (ST); The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (MK); Millennium Village, Leave a Legacy, Imagination! presented by Kodak (EC); "Sounds Dangerous Starring Drew Carey" (ST); "Bear in the Big Blue House" (ST)
2000 DisneyQuest's interactive Pirates of the Caribbean adventure (DD)
2001 The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (MK); "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-Play It!" (ST); "Walt Disney: One Man's Dream" (ST); Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama! TriceraTop Spin (AK); "Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage" (ST)
2002 Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama! Primeval Whirl (AK)
2003 Mission: SPACE (EC); "Mickey's PhilharMagic" (MK)
2004 Stitches Great Escape! (MK); "Turtle Talk With Crush" (EC)
2005 Crush 'n' Gusher (TL); Soarin' (EC); "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" (ST); Lucky the Dinosaur (AK)
2006 Expedition Everest (AK), "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" (EC)
2007 "Finding Nemo-The Musical" (AK), Monster's, Inc. Laugh Floor (MK)
2008 Toy Story Midway Mania (DHS); Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian (DHS); Pixie Hollow (MK)
2009 American Idol Experience (DHS); Characters In Flight Balloon (DTD); Sum of All Thrills (EC-Innoventions)
2010 Captain EO returns (EC);
2011 Star Tours: The Adventure Continues (DHS); Disney Junior: Live on Stage (DHS)
2012 New Fantasyland (MK): Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid; Enchanted Tales with Belle; Storybook Circus; Dumbo featuring dual spinners and interactive play area queue; Casey Jr. Soak and Splash Play Area (MK); Test Track 2.0 (EC)
2013 Princess Fairy Tale Hall Meet & Greet (MK)
2014 Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (MK)
   
RESORT OPENINGS:
1971 Disney's Contemporary Resort; Disney's Polynesian Resort; Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
1972 Disney's Village Resort (Treehouse & Vacation Villas); Royal Plaza; Grosvenor (Dutch Inn); TraveLodge; Holiday Inn (Courtyard by Marriott, Howard Johnson)
1973 Shades of Green (Disney Inn, 1986-93, Golf Resort, 1973-86)
1974 Discovery Island; Pioneer Hall
1975 Disney Village Marketplace; Fairway Villas
1977 Empress Lilly Riverboat
1978 Disney's Polynesian Resort expansion
1980 Walt Disney World Conference Center; Club Lake Villas
1983 Buena Vista Palace; Hilton at Disney Village
1987 Doubletree (Guest Quarters, Pickett) Suite Hotel
1988 Disney's Grand Floridian Beach Resort; Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
1990 Disney's Yacht Club Resort; Disney's Beach Club Resort; Walt Disney World Swan; Walt Disney World Dolphin
1991 Disney's Port Orleans Resort
1992 Disney's Dixie Landings Resort; Disney's Old Key West Resort (DVC); Bonnet Creek Golf Club
1994 Disney's All-Star Sports Resort; Disney's Wilderness Lodge
1995 Disney's All-Star Music Resort
1996 Disney Institute; Disney's BoardWalk
1997 Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
1999 Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
2000 The Villas at Wilderness Lodge (DVC)
2001 Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
2002 Disney's Beach Club Villas (DVC)
2003 Disney's Pop Century Resort
2004 Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (DVC)
2006 Disney's All Star Music Family Suites
2007 Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas (DVC)
2009 Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort (DVC)
2012 Disney's Art of Animation Resort
2013 The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (DVC)
2015 Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows (DVC)
   
ENTERTAINMENT HIGHLIGHTS:
1971 Televised opening with 1,076 piece marching band, 60-nation World Symphony Orchestra, Bob Hope, Julie Andrews, Glen Campbell; All-American College Band program debuts; Candlelight Processional debuts
1972 First Easter parade and Grad Nites
1974 Donald Duck's 40th birthday; "Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue" debuts
1975 "Fantasy in the Sky" begins as a Disney-designed fireworks show
1975-76 "America on Parade" bicentennial salute
1977 "Main Street Electrical Light Parade" debuts
1978 Mickey Mouse 50th birthday parade and first Christmas at Walt Disney World television special
1979 First World Series of Entertainment
1981 Yearlong Tencennial Celebration
1982 Epcot opens featuring entertainment from big bands and international folk groups; "Sparkling Christmas Spectacular" show (MK)
1983 First live telecast of Christmas parade; "Disney World is Your World" show (MK); "Mickey's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" show (MK); "Holiday Splendor" show (EC)
1984 Donald Duck's 50th birthday parade; WorldFest & "Laserphonic Fantasy" (EC)
1985 Radio City Rockettes (EC); "Skyleidoscope" (EC); President Reagan reviews the Inaugural Bands (EC); Easter telecast; Big Band Bash; Six World Series Entertainment Nights; first Goofy Games ceremonies; Tinkerbell flies above Cinderella Castle for the first time (July 4)
1986 11,000 guests for 15th anniversary kickoff; 15th birthday parades
1987 "All America" parade (MK); "Daredevil Circus Spectacular" (EC)
1988 Mickey's 60th birthday parade; "IllumiNations" premiere (EC)
1989 "Disney Character Hit Parade" (MK)
1990 Pleasure Island nightly New Year's celebration begins; "DisneyMania" show (MK); "Dick Tracy & the Diamond Double Cross" show (ST); "Dick Tracy" film world premiere at Pleasure Island; "Here Come the Muppets" show (ST); Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (ST); "Sorcery in the Sky" (ST)
1991 Disney entertainment "World" record; six new shows to celebrate 20th anniversary: "Surprise Celebration" parade (MK); "SpectroMagic" nighttime parade (MK); "Surprise in the Skies" show (EC); "Hollywood's Pretty Women" show (ST); "Muppets on Location" show (ST); "Dinosaurs Live!" parade (ST); also: "Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage" show (ST); Moulin Rouge (EC); Points of Light ceremony with President Bush (EC); Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awards ceremony
1992 "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" show (ST); "Aladdin's Royal Caravan" parade (ST); "Jolly Holidays" dinner show
1993 Sword in the Stone (MK); "SPLASHTACULAR!" show (EC); "The Magical World of Barbie" show (EC)
1994 "Mickey Mania" parade (MK); "Ellington Under the Stars" salute (EC); fountain ballets (EC); first annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (EC); "Holiday IllumiNations" (EC); Candlelight Processional moves to Epcot and extends series (EC); first running of Walt Disney World Marathon
1995 "Rhythms of the World" series (EC); "Galaxy Search" show (MK); "Every Day's a Holiday" show (MK); "The Spirit of Pocahontas" show (ST); "Toy Story Parade" (ST); "Swinging Summer Nights" series (EC); first annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (EC)
1996 "25th Anniversary Parade" and celebration; ABC Super Soap Weekend (ST); Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MK); "IllumiNations 25" (EC); "The Hunchback of Notre Dame-A Musical Adventure" show (ST)
1997 Richard Petty Driving Experience (DWWS); "Disney's Magical Holidays" included: Spectacle of Lights with the Osborne Family Light Display (ST); Holidays Around the World (EC); Candlelight Processional (EC); "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" (MK); Jolly Holidays Dinner Show at Disney's Contemporary Resort
1998 "Fantasmic!" show (ST), "Mulan" parade" (ST); "Festival of the Lion King" show (AK); "Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends" show (AK); "Journey into Jungle Book" show (AK); "March of the ARTimals" (AK); "Flights of Wonder" show (AK)
1999 "Main Street Electrical Parade" (MK); "Tarzan Rocks!" show (AK); Walt Disney World Yearlong Millennium Celebration begins featuring new entertainment such as "IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth" and "Tapestry of Nations" parade (EC); "Disney's Doug Live!" (ST); "Lord of the Dance" (EC)
2000 Millennium Celebration continues
2001 100 Years of Magic celebrating Walt Disney's 100th birthday and his legacy of creativity and spirit of adventure; new parades in all four theme parks - "Share a Dream Come True" (MK), "Tapestry of Dreams" (EC), "Disney Stars and Motor Cars" (ST), "Mickey's Jammin' Jungle" (AK); "Cinderella's Surprise Celebration" show (MK); "Blast!" show (EC)
2002 100 Years of Magic celebration continues throughout the year; SHOCKWAVE show (EC)
2003 "Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show" (new Polynesian Luau); "Wishes" fireworks show (MK); Star Wars Weekends becomes an annual event
2005 "Cinderellabration" (MK)
2006 “Dream Along with Mickey” (MK), Immersive Experiences (MK): “Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial,” “Woody’s Cowboy Camp,” “Main Street Family Fun Day Parade” and “Let’s Have a Ball”; 25th Anniversary Celebration of the wedding of Luke and Laura (ST)
2007 "Jedi Training Academy" immersive experience (MK); "The Year of a Million Dreams" celebration continues throughout the year; High School Musical Pep Rally (ST)
2008 Block Party Bash (DHS)
2009 Stitch's Super Sonic Celebration (MK); American Idol Experience (DHS); Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure (EC)
2010 Summer Nightastic (MK); Disney Channel Rocks (DHS); Spectromagic RETIRES-replaced by Main Street Electrical Parade (MK)
2011 Disney Junior: Live on Stage (DHS); Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun (DHS); British Revolution replaces British Invasion at UK Pavilion (EC)
2012 Jedi Training Academy (DHS); Agent P's World Showcase Adventure (EC); Royal Majestymakers (MK)
2013 Incredibles Super Dance Party (MK)
2014 Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party (MK); Festival of Fantasy Parade (MK); Frozen Fireworks Spectacular (DHS); Frozen Royal Welcome Ceremony (DHS); Canadian Lumberjack Show replaces Off Kilter at Canada Pavilion (EC)
2015 For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-A-Long Celebration (DHS)

 

 
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