After the glowing success of Disneyland, which opened in 1955, Walt Disney soon began looking for land to open a second resort east of the Mississippi River.
Disney eventually chose Orlando, FL, acquiring massive tracts of swampland, and announcing construction in late 1965. Walt Disney died in 1967, but his plans were continued by his brother, Roy, who chose the name “Walt Disney World.”
Massive drainage canals, the first roads, a hotel and a few exhibits were completed in time for the October 1971 opening. Admission prices were $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for juniors ages 12 to 17, and $1 for children under 12. In 2021, one-day passes are $109 – $194.
The resort’s second theme park, EPCOT Center, opened in 1982. The resort’s third theme park Disney/MGM Studios (renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2008) opened in 1989. A fourth park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, opened in 1998.
Due to the pandemic, Disney World ceased operations from March 15 to July 11, 2020, reopening at 25% capacity. Since November 2020, it has been operating at 35% capacity. Its ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex served as host to the NBA Playoffs bubble in August 2020.
Interesting fact: If you have ever visited, you may have noticed there are hardly any mosquitos – normally one of Florida’s most familiar flying pests. How can this be? In addition to limiting the standing water the bugs love, workers constantly spray an extract of liquid garlic around the park. Mosquitoes cannot stand the smell, but it is at such low concentrations, most human visitors cannot detect it.
So, if you feel a sting in today’s Magic Kingdom, it is most likely from the prices! On Oct. 1, 2021, Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary.