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Finding Your Way Around Magic Kingdom Park, 40 Years Ago

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Did you ever wonder what Magic Kingdom Park was like on opening day Oct. 1, 1971? I sure have, so last week I went looking for a copy of the park’s very first map to see for myself.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride from 1971 at Magic Kingdom Park

According to The Walt Disney Archives, the park’s first map wasn’t a guide map as we know it today, but a multi-page newspaper called The Walt Disney World News. The first edition, titled “Vacation Kingdom Opens,” celebrated the opening of the park with photos of company founder Walt Disney, Walt Disney World Ambassador Debby Dane, and the Windsor family, the first guests to enter the park on Oct. 1. (It also told the story of how in order to be the first guests admitted to the park, mom, dad and sons slept overnight in their Volkswagen in a nearby parking lot).

The park’s first map appears on page 4, and is followed with a listing of attractions, shops and restaurants in each “land.” While many of the park’s original attractions still exist today, there are shops and entertainment offerings. How about following up your Peter Pan’s Flight with a performance by The Polka Band? Or buying greeting cards on Main Street, U.S.A.? Or hot dogs at Refreshment Corner instead of Casey’s Corner?

What do you think?

Pages from ‘The Walt Disney World News,’ Magic Kingdom’s First Park Map Pages from ‘The Walt Disney World News,’ Magic Kingdom’s First Park Map


  • We first went to Walt Disney World in 1973 and I became a regular visitor after I got my license in 1974. I believe I remember a choice of General Admission ticket, Combo Book with General Admission and a mix of A thru E tickets and I think there was a General Admission with a number of E tickets only. You could purchase additional tickets at several booths located within the park

  • I remember my first time in aug 72, my brother and i would keep getting more and more e tickets, we never used our A tickets. still love going- will be there in dec.

  • Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I was there in Dec. ’71 it was our family’s Christmas present!

  • My first visit to Disneyland was in August 1959. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep the night before. I was 10 at the time and my family had travelled from Florida to California to go to the park. What a wonderful time we had and so many memories. I still say that was an “E ride” whenever I see a ride that is over the top. Now, my grown daughter and I go to Disney World every year for a weekend together. We stay at the Boardwalk and just do whatever we want. Thanks Disney for all the memories.

  • I was born on October 1. Only it was different years, 1964.

  • I didn’t know they listed the class of the ticket with the price next to it. Did they take coins at the attractions? It is fun to see what was an “E” ticket. I’m glad that term is still part of our modern day vernacular.

  • My first visit to Disney World was in December 1971 at 5 years of age. It was a truly magical experience!! Thank you for posting the The Walt Disney World News. Amazing memories!

  • I was recently telling my oldest son about the first time I went to Disney World…. stayed at the Contemporary, only had 1 Park, used booklets of paper tickets & my favorite ride: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea! I wished they still have that one, cause at the time I thought it was sooo exciting! His response to my walk down memory lane…What no Test Track? It’s tough when your son already thinks he is a WDW Pro!

  • First visit was in Oct. ’74 (honeymoon). I remember the seperate tickets. Good memories, good times. Disney has made many changes since then, but are smart enough to leave a good chunk of the old for nostalgia. We just made our 12th trip. Wish I lived closer like some lucky folks in Fla. I’d be there every season. Maybe soon I will.

  • I see that back then you could meet Dumbo. Nothing would make my daughter happier than to meet Dumbo. Any chance a Dumbo meet and greet will be added to the new Storybook Circus area?

  • The earliest park map in my collection came from Dave Smith, former Disney Archivist, during a D23 tour of the Walt Disney Studios. It’s a 1976 map of the Magic Kingdom. I had it framed and hung it in my office.

  • I think distributing a newsletter as the park’s original brochure was such a neat idea. As a public relations major, I know that a newsletter is much more detailed than a brochure and as a parent or child I feel that looking at a newsletter as your guide through Magic Kingdom would be overwhelming. Personally, I feel I’d be the kid at the candy store wanting to try everything because the detailed descriptions are phenomenal. However, I feel like the brochures at Disney today are still so descriptive that they make me want to try everything.

    *And, I love the picture of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I enjoyed that ride growing up and am sad that the ride is no longer in existence at Magic Kingdom.

  • I was there opening day! I was 9 months old! My mother remembers it being the first time she had seen baby changing tables in a public place. Disney was ahead of its time then and is ahead of its time today. I turned 40 this year also, so my parents and I are headed to WDW to be there on the Anniversary just like we did all those years ago!

  • Does anyone know when they switched to the all-inclusive tickets that we use now? I didn’t get to go to a Disney park until 1999 and had never heard of the old school tickets before reading this post.

  • I miss Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Thank you for the picture. It brought back some great memories.

  • My first visit to the Magic Kingdom was a week after it opened in 1971 (we’ve gone twice a year since). I was 10 years old and I remember all of those things. The Country Bear Jamboree was presented by Pepsi Cola and Frito-Lay (actually said during the performance). I really miss the WDW band and was so happy on a recent visit to Disneyland see that they still performed at the flagpole. The first thing we did every morning was line up on Main Street to get reservations for the Diamond Horseshoe. If I could bring back one attraction it would be either If You Had Wings (loved it even more because it was FREE–NO TICKET!) or Mickey Mouse Revue. I always felt our childhood dog was the luckiest in the world because she would stay at the Kal Kan Kennel on property! I love seeing these old maps.

  • @ Cheryl – I remember getting the A-tickets and having no idea what to spend them on. (The Main St. Cinema? The horse trolley?)

    I remember meeting strolling characters unexpectedly…I remember the big bandstand, near Ariel’s Grotto today…I remember reservations for the Diamond Horseshoe selling out by noon…I remember silhouettes for sale at the Shadow Box…(sob!) I remember the Mickey Mouse Revue!
    Years later, we had a bus driver/tour guide who mentioned “E-ticket rides” and didn’t know why they were called that. My hand immediately shot up with a “I know, I know!” 🙂
    (In fact, when we were taking the kids to their first trip, it was during a convention on Int’l Drive, and we needed a Hotel Plaza Blvd hotel to stay near the edge of property. We walked into the Best Western and unwittingly realized…it was the same hotel we’d stayed in as kids, in 1975!)

  • The current D23 issue does a good job walking us back to opening day, and this supplements it quite well! Thanks for the information and great images. I wonder if Joe Potter is looking down and loving the work done.

  • Thanks! My first visit was in ’73, I well remember the “E” tickets…all the best stuff needed an E ticket, and there were only a few of them…

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