Walt Disney World Resort
After Walt Disney got Disneyland in California going, he turned his sights to central Florida where he came up with the idea of what would become Walt Disney World. Situated on 47 square miles of land, Walt Disney World opened in October, 1971 with the Magic Kingdom. Like its sister in California, the Magic Kingdom featured all the ambiance of Disneyland, including lands such as Main Street, U.S.A., Adventure land and Tomorrowland. We also saw the opening of three flagship resorts: Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. And unlike its counterpart in California, the parking for Walt Disney World guests is located across a man-made lake, known as the Seven Seas Lagoon. Guests are transported via monorail, or boat from a central ticketing area to the Magic Kingdom. Walt passed away before the opening of what initially was to be called Disney World. His brother, Roy Disney, renamed the resort Walt Disney World in honor of the man who started it all.
With a huge amount of land at their disposal, the imagineers decided to build another theme park in the late seventies, to be called EPCOT. This park was an original idea of Walt's to showcase technology and progress. Initially, this idea was to include a residential and business district, however, EPCOT was to become the second park on the Walt Disney World property. Opening October 1st, 1982, this theme park not only brought the guests to the future, it also introduced them to the World Showcase, which included a representation of several nation such as Mexico, Canada, China, and of course, the United States. Future World, which is the area that guests would encounter first upon entering the park, introduced attractions such as Spaceship Earth, the World of Motion, and The Universe of Energy. This innovative park put the world of technology on display for the world to see! To make it easier for guests to get to EPCOT (Epcot), Disney ran their monorail from the main ticketing center (the Ticked and Transportation Center) to Epcot. Guests could park at the Magic Kingdom parking lot, then take the "highway in the sky" to the newest them park at Walt Disney World.
In May, 1989, Walt Disney World also witnessed the opening of their third park, Disney-MGM Studios. This park would put the guests in the middle of the movies! Here, Disney introduced never-seen-before attractions such as the Hollywood Tower of Terror, and the Great Movie Ride. Also, guests could take a boat ride from Epcot to the Studios. A boat could be boarded at the International Gateway at Epcot. This "gateway" was put in as a second entrance (the first and only Disney theme park to have two entrances) to Epcot for guests staying at one of 2 new resorts, the Swan and Dolphin. While on Walt Disney World property, these resorts are not owned and operated by Disney. The Studios (Disney's Hollywood Studios as it's known today) was the home to the Backlot Tour, which took guests "behind the scenes" via tram. This attraction gave us a look at movie props such as clothing, cars, houses, ships, and other items from famous movies such as Passenger 57, and Indiana Jones. It also featured Vern's house from the movie (which was filmed at Walt Disney World) Ernest Saves Christmas. At the time, Disney operated a working studio at this park. Later, Disney would add the night time show, Fantasmic! which is held in a huge open -air amphitheater. This show features laser light beams, water screens, music, smoke, and fire!
Throughout the 1990's, Walt Disney World added more resorts such as Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, which at the time was the world's largest resort! They later added resorts such as the Yacht & Beach Club, the Grand Floridian Resort, and Disney's Port Orleans , and Dixie Landings. Disney also introduced their version of a time share, know at the Disney Vacation Club. The DVC would spawn new resorts such as Old Key West (known as Disney's Vacation Club Resort when it opened), and Disney Boardwalk Villas. Disney also enhanced their recreation options for their guests. While they already had boating and Golf, they opened up two miniature golf courses, as well as two Water Parks - River Country, and Typhoon Lagoon. Later, they would add another water park, Blizzard Beach, and close River Country. By the end of the 90's. Walt Disney World would boost over 15 resorts. Today, that total is 26.
In April 1998, Walt Disney World would open a fourth theme park called Disney's Animal Kingdom. This park would feature emphases on the animal kingdom, past, and present. Disney created the Kilimanjaro Safaris, an attraction that would take guests on a 22 minute safari across an active savannah, featuring live animals roaming free in their natural habitat. This attraction would become the signature attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom park. A short time later, Disney would build Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. This huge resort is based on African culture, complete with active savannahs featuring live animals for guests to see.
In March of 1975, Disney opened up Lake Buena Vista Village, which is now know as Downtown Disney. This area boasts shops, restaurants, and entertainment, as well as a boat dock for boat rentals. Today, resort guest can take complimentary Walt Disney World bus service to and from Downtown Disney from any park or Walt Disney World resort.
Since 1971, Walt Disney World has added restaurants, entertainment, attractions, golf courses, resorts, transportation, and other amenities. Walt Disney World also knows that travelers may have special needs and they do their best to be accommodating. All resorts, and many attractions are special needs friendly.
To sum things up, Walt Disney World has become the most popular travel destination in the world. Walt Disney World has something for everybody, and continues to grow. A trip to Walt Disney World may be the most magical experience you can have!
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