The History and Growth of Walt Disney World

When Walt Disney World Resort first opened in 1971, it had one theme park – Magic Kingdom – and only two resorts. Since then, Walt Disney World has expanded in size to include four separate theme parks, two water parks, over 200 dining establishments, and more than 20 resort hotels in a wide variety of themes and prices.

The various resort options available to guests who visit Walt Disney World now include value and moderate resorts, which are affordable for nearly any budget. There are also deluxe resorts, deluxe villas and cabins and campgrounds for guests who want to experience the outdoors combined with the famous magic that only Disney can provide.

In 1982, Walt Disney World Resort had doubled their investment, adding Epcot, Walt Disney World Village (now Downtown Disney District,) and six additional resorts, including The Grand Floridian and Caribbean Beach Resort. It wasn’t until the 90s, however, that Walt Disney World began to flourish and grow at an amazing rate.

Once the 90s hit, Walt Disney World Resort expanded at an astonishing rate, to include ten new themed resorts, Blizzard Beach water park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, Disney/MGM Studios, three new Disney Vacation Club properties, two miniature golf courses, new entertainment, shopping and dining experiences in the Downtown Disney district, and Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex (now ESPN’S Wide World of Sports.)

Since then, Walt Disney World Resort continues to be a premiere vacation destination for locals and tourists alike, and will continue to do so with the forthcoming Fantasyland expansion in Magic Kingdom Park. The new expansion will be adding several new attractions, including a Beauty and the Beast themed area, as well as a brand-new Snow White ride, the Seven Dwarves Mine Train – and plenty more additions are in the works for this expansion, too.

If you should grow tired of the theme parks, Downtown Disney District offers world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment for anyone who needs a break from the parks. On Downtown Disney’s West Side, guests can experience the AMC Movie Theatre which now includes a dine-in feature, as well as the live-action Cirque du Soleil La Nouba show and plenty of unique specialty shops and top-notch restaurants.

Guests who visit Downtown Disney Marketplace will be treated to world-class Disney shops (including the largest Disney character store in the world,) or take a break and relax with a bite to eat at a lakeside eatery. Pleasure Island, which will soon be rethemed as Hyperion Wharf, is adjacent to Downtown Disney Marketplace, and is still available for guests to experience while undergoing a remodel through 2013.

Another specialty area located at Walt Disney World Resortis Disney’s BoardWalk, a specialized shopping, dining and entertainment district that circles Crescent Lake and is located next to two Walt Disney World theme parks, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Whether strolling along the shops during the day, or enjoying the dance hall or piano bar at night, Disney’s BoardWalk offers premium entertainment opportunities for anyone who wants a break from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.

Walt Disney World Resort has come a long way since its beginnings in 1971, and with the myriad of updates and expansions, it’s easy to see how the resort will continue to be a favorite vacation destination for years to come.