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Timeline: Celebrating 40 Years at Walt Disney World

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

With the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort taking place this Saturday, we really had to think hard about what to feature on the blog in the days leading up to this huge milestone. After all, four decades of history sure offers a lot of options!

In the end, we wanted to honor as many milestones as we could. What resulted was the infographic below.

What do you think? What’s been a Walt Disney World Resort highlight moment for you?

Timeline: Celebrating 40 Years at Walt Disney World Resort


  • Favorite Disney memory? That’s easy. Taking my new bride on her first-ever trip WDW for our honeymoon in Nov 2008. It was like having a 10 year old next to me for a week! Her wide eyes couldn’t take it all in. We had a blast! And followed it up with her first-ever cruise with DCL. Doesn’t get much better than that.

  • You forgot to put down when River Country closed. My favorite and it is gone.

  • Have spent so many happy days on vacation at WDW over the years. Thanks so much for all of them. Wish we could be there for this special weekend of celebration but are planning to get there during the spring for our share in the magic! Happy Birthday, Walt Disney World!!!

  • In response to Jeremy’s comment:

    Please, please, never get rid of “Wishes” it is such a beautiful, breathtaking show. I tell my three children that they are my three wishes that came true. I always tear up a little at Wishes because of that. Love that show.

  • You guys put alot of hard work into that! Thank you so much! It brings back some GREAT memories, and though several of them are now long gone (like River Country) is always fun to look back and see how far we’ve come.

  • Wow, what a great timeline. It’s amazing to see the wonderful things that have transpired over the years at WDW. My wife & I were both 33-years old when we make our first trip to the World. Now 15-years later we are living in Florida, Annual Passholders and total Disney freaks! We took our 11-year old daughter to WDW when she was only 9-months old and we’ve been back sooo many times since then. You can never have enough magic in your lives!
    I have to agree w/ Jean Philippe on Fastpasses to see Mickey. Toontown didn’t close until Feb. 11, 2011 and Backstage With Mickey Mouse didn’t debut until April 1, 2011.

  • Thank you for the great timeline. How fun to see so graphically all the firsts. It is interesting to see what opened around our own visits to the park, it brings the excitement all over again. Cheers!

  • I missed most of the history between Epcot and Animal Kingdom, so it’s amazing to see just how much expansion we got in the “Disney Decade” of ’89-’99.
    (But, um, do we really want to include the Avatar announcement, or will it just be one of those funny bits of fad-history to look back on, like the “Surprise Celebration Parade” that had the Dinosaurs family and Roger Rabbit in it?) 😉

  • So i have a question Why isnt Disney World getting new Fireworks for their 40th or a New Parade? Celebrate a Dream Come true has been there 10 years and so Has Wishes! Just wondering Disneyland I love with all my heart and got a 40th parade and Firework show….Just wondering…..

  • wow!
    I would love to have it as a poster.

    I was under the impression that the FASTPASS ticket to meet Mickey was introduced in spring 2011.

  • This would make a fantastic poster!

  • What a beautiful graphic! It’s fun to look back on all those major milestones. It would make a great (but super-tall) poster! It reminds me a little of the large, horizontal timeline that was posted at Epcot in Innoventions West for a while after the 25th Anniversary of Epcot. Is it still there?

    Is there any extra credit for finding the hidden photo of Sleeping Beauty Castle from Disneyland? 😉

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