More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Vintage Walt Disney World: Happy Birthday, Magic Kingdom Park!

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

This week we celebrated the anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World Resort, and 43 years later it’s still bringing magical memories to guests from all over the world. In honor of this week’s milestone, here’s an aerial view of Magic Kingdom Park and the surrounding resort area in early 1971.

Read on for more posts about Magic Kingdom in the “Vintage Walt Disney World” series:


  • What a great aerial shot. Wish I was there at the opening. I visited Disneyland for the first time in 1971, but it was 19 years before visiting WDW.

    Lake Buena Vista Country Club was still there, but none of the current improvements. It was magical at DW in ’71, WDW in ’80 and the many times at both parks since then.

    I’d love to work there and live close by. At 60, this is still the Happiest Place on Earth. I can’t get enough.

  • What a great photo! I love how you can see where they are building the water bridge which would eventually allow Bay Lake to connect with the Seven Seas Lagoon. The team that built Disney World did amazing things.

  • The original site plan called for several other resort hotels, representing other areas of the world, to be built around the Seven Seas Lagoon. The photo seems to show preliminary site work, like clearing and grading, underway.

    These were not built for a variety of reasons, but many of the concepts were reused in other parts of the property and even in Epcot.

  • Wow, there’s no monorail tracks yet! When in 1971 was the Ticket & Transportation Center completed?

  • You can also see the spot where the Wilderness Lodge is now today along the right side of Bay Lake which opened May 28th, 1994

  • At the time the land where the Grand Floridan now stands was intended for Disney’s Asian Resort which was cancelled because of the 1973 Oil Embargo.There was also originally going to Disney’s Venetian Resort and Disney’s Persian Resort as well.

  • The Grand Floridian Beach Resort (as it was known then) opened on July 1st, 1988.

  • Mark, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa didn’t open until July 1, 1988, almost 17 years after Walt Disney World opened. That’s why you don’t see any indication of it in the photo.

  • I’d love to see a 2014 picture from the same vantage point to compare!

  • What a fantastic shot! I see the Contemporary and Polynesian under construction, but not much seems to be happening where the Grand Floridian now stands. Was that built later or was it open by the time the park was done?

    • Hi, Mark. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa didn’t open until 1988. We announced construction of the Resort in 1986. (Hopefully I have my facts right!)

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