While it may be hard to imagine for some, the Walt Disney World Resort of Florida is now officially 40 years old. Festivities were held yesterday, October 1, 2011, to mark the 40th Anniversary of the theme park.
Plans for a new Florida based theme park were originally conceived of under the watchful eye of none other than Walt Disney himself. He, along with his brother Roy, and many other key members of the Disney organization had been responsible for not only the success of the Disney Company up to that point, but also the construction of a new style of park meant for the enjoyment of family members of all ages.
This new park opened in California in 1955 and was known then simply as Disneyland. However, almost immediately upon its opening, several issues with Disneyland were realized, probably most notable the lack of land around the park. This allowed other entities to build easily within site of the park.
With that in mind, Disney started searching for a location for another park but sought enough land to conceivably do whatever they wanted for years and years to come. Eventually, they settled on an area near Orlando, Florida where the weather provided year round access for guests and enough land could be purchased at a reasonable enough price. Disney purchased over forty square miles for the project and begun the arduous task of creating a new park.
Unfortunately, Walt Disney himself was only able to provide initial guidance for the park as he passed away on December 15, 1966. The construction of Magic Kingdom (the first park of Disney World) and two resorts (Contemporary and Polynesian) took another five years to complete.
Walt Disney World Resort officially opened on October 1, 1971. The official ceremony opening the resort was a held a few weeks later.
“Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney… and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place… a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn — together,” stated Roy Disney at the official opening of Walt Disney World Resort.
For some of the activities held during the special 40th anniversary celebration, look for Part 2 of this article to come soon!
Thanks to OrlandoUnitedOU who shot the video shown above!