More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Vintage Walt Disney World: Old Maps of Walt Disney World Resort

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

Sometimes I come across things in our archives that I think look interesting, but I don’t know a lot about them. Such was the case with the following map. Turns out, my friends at the Walt Disney Archives knew plenty.
Old Map of Walt Disney World Resort Property

In the early years of Walt Disney World Resort, this artwork decorated the guest rooms of the Contemporary Resort Hotel and the Polynesian Village Resort Hotel. The piece showcases the spirit and vast, all-new offerings of the “Vacation Kingdom of the World,” including Magic Kingdom Park, golf courses, beaches, watercraft, monorail transportation, Bay Lake and its eventual Discovery Island, Fort Wilderness and Tri-Circle-D Ranch, STOLport, the Polynesian and Contemporary Resort hotels, and three “future” resorts: the Asian, Venetian, and Persian.

While announced to the public in 1969, the Asian, Persian, and Venetian Resort hotels never materialized. Eventually, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa would open on the site of the Asian Resort, and the sites for the Venetian and Persian Resorts would remain undeveloped. Here’s a look at our property as it’s been developed today.
Map of Walt Disney World Resort as It's Been Developed Today

As Disney legend goes, because so many of the original Walt Disney World Resort maps were printed for guest rooms, a cast member used the excess ones as wrapping paper for Christmas presents one year. Steven Miller, did you read that? Not a bad idea.

Check out more posts from the “Vintage Walt Disney World” series:


  • I always liked this map. There is a copy of it hanging in the Cast Member learning center in the tunnels in Magic Kingdom. I used to study it every time I would go in there. I always thought it unique in that it had the three hotels that were never built and also showed the airport where Walt’s plane flew in during the construction of WDW.

  • Seconded, Fred! I’d love to get my hands on a print of this map!

  • An Asian, Persian, and Venetian resort would be really cool. I wonder why they were scrapped.

  • I can remember when there was only Magic Kingdom. I was fortunate enough be part of the 1076 member all-male marching band for opening day ceremonies. I think I still have my day pass for the event. We were lead by the “Music Man” himself. It was an incredible experience. I always wonder if they plan to have a reunion of the participants of the grand opening. I just wish I had kept the map from October 1971.

  • I would also like the join the group of folks asking for a better resolution photo of the older map. It’s one of the many memories I have of staying at the Contemporary as a kid. When I ask the nice folks at Art of Disney, they unfortunately have no idea what I’m talking about. Obviously a big missed sales opportunity!

  • Is there any way we can get a copy of the maps? Maybe DMR can offer them as rewards or we can buy from the Disney Store. We have collected several Maps over the years but would love one of these.

  • I was looking at the map on Facebook and said, “Wait a minute, that wasn’t there!”~Our family and my now husband’s family were there on Opening Day. I have an original map on my living room wall. It made me come here to find out what happened to the map you posted. This is really cool! I do wish they would reopen Discovery Island but I totally understand the traffic flow would be impossible these days. When my sister and I have our sisters weekend in May, we stay at the Contemporary and remember the old days. We had the honor of being the 40th Anniversary Grand Marshalls for the big parade! I still bring my mom, now 92, and she loves it just as much now as she did opening day! We truly are a Disney family!

  • I have an original WDW Magic Kingdom Map from 1972. An original EPCOT Center map from 1983.

  • We always stayed in the Contemporary Resort a few times a year. We happened to be staying there during renovations. I asked what about the Map on the wall and was told they would be thrown out. I called around and was finally given the ok to purchase one off the wall. They crated it up and shipped it via truck. Within a few days I received a letter from Disney saying they hoped I would enjoy the map. I still have both….. And it too is a prized possession of many happy Disney memories!

  • This is great! My family has the original still from the Contemporary, it’s hanging in our offices now. We love it!

  • A couple of other details: This map has no Pirates of the Caribbean–not yet approved at the time. Instead was the planned, Western River Expedition, which stands in the location Splash and Big Thunder now stand. You’ll also note a white, steeple-like building left of the Liberty Tree. Almost like the Old North Church in Boston, but my research shows that the bottom floor was intended to be a outdoor market/fruit stand. That building never got built, and instead, we now have a liberty bell, plaza with flags standing in its place. However, also not planned at that time was a covered queue for the Hall of Presidents. When imagineers realized how much rain impacts the queueing experience in Florida, they added a covered queue. The queue is no longer needed, but the space now serves as an outdoor market/fruit stand. Finally, you’ll note the larger building that is now Tony’s and Town Square Theater on the right of the town square on Main Street, U.S.A. Original thinking that would be a hotel on Main Street at some point–hence the size of those buildings. When that hotel plan got nixed I’m uncertain.

  • This is awesome! I so wish Disney would make reproductions of vintage maps such as these, as well as other vintage items, available to purchase in the parks. I’d love to have one or more of Walt Disney World over the years.

    Just last month my family and I were going through my aunt’s home after she passed and found a huge souvenir map and book from Disneyland from 1963 & 1964. Both were beautifully preserved and so interesting to look at. They referenced coming attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, as well as the never to be realized Edison Square. Small World wasn’t even a coming attraction at that point! It’s funny to think of the park without these classic attractions. Right after that we found a snapshot of one of my Aunt’s friends with Walt himself in front of the Monsanto Hall of Chemistry. What a hoot! It’s not every day you find a picture of Walt Disney in your family photo albums. We will treasure them all for years to come.

  • So after I came back from DHS in 2001, a friend told me to look at the park map again.

    I did and noticed that the entire park was designed as a giant Mickey Mouse head.

    I’ve since gone back and looked at the park map in 2008 and it doesn’t look that way anymore.

    • Yes, it’s true. I posted an aerial view of this Mickey awhile back. You can view it here:

  • I’m not sure who I need to beg to convince you to post higher-resolution versions of both those maps, but they are FABULOUS.

    Pretty please!? I’d love to have them as my desktop wallpaper.

  • I’d love a high-res poster of the new map for my office!!! Art of Disney has no such poster =(

  • Thanks for the post; I too love the History blogs. I agree with Pamela, I would like to have a book of the Park maps. I’ve been saving mine for the past several years, but would love to have a book as well. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE

  • Love the top map. Would also love to see a bigger version of it!

  • Is there a book with a collection of Disney Park maps. I would love to have a book with a picture history of the parks through its maps.

    • Currently, I don’t believe there is a book.

  • Some of us LOVE the historical stuff. Especially the things that were planned but never happened, or ended up very different than the original plan.

    Keep it coming!

  • Any chance the vintage map could become the next Parks Blog wallpaper download?

  • I remember pouring over the top map during my family’s stay in – I think it was – 1977. We were able to afford a single night in the Contemporary on that trip. This map has been stuck in my head ever since then. I remember tracing the route of the monorail, noting that the spur that passed the Contemporary was there in real life, even though the other hotel was not. I thought it odd that the track dead-ended there on the map, but continued off into the distance in real life… could this be where they “parked” the monorails at night, I wondered. Turns out that, yes, that is the spur to the monorail barn, with or without the hotel straddling the line!

    • Great story!

  • Great post! This is an example of why you are a must read each week.

    • Thanks. 🙂

  • As I understand it, when the rooms were remodeled, the maps were thrown out to the dumpster. A few forward-thinking Cast Members grabbed one or two, including my good friend Jeff N. He gave me one of his when I left the company. And it now hangs in my office. But they were mounted on particle board and are very heavy as they are over 4 x 5 feet in height/length. I doubt anyone could have used it to wrap Christmas presents. It is my favorite, prized Disney possession. And it’s a reminder of not only another era, but of good friends at Disney I enjoyed the association of.

  • I love these look at Disney history. I nerd out over it. Oh how cool some of those resorts would’ve been.

  • I started saving my park maps around 2002 when I began making scrapbooks of my trips. I have them tucked away between some pages. I figure it would be interesting to pull them out in about 20 years and see how much the parks have changes, and stayed the same.

  • I love how utterly not to scale that second map is.

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