The Florida Project

The plans for another park, located somewhere in America, date back almost to the opening of Disneyland. After the initial success of Disneyland, Walt and his team almost immediately began looking for other locations across the country that could support a similar style of theme park.

By sometime in 1958, Walt was on the lookout for a new location. Florida quickly became a favorite for this new park and by the early 1960’s the recommendations point to somewhere in Central Florida.

In 1964 the Walt Disney Co. begins buying up parcels of land in Orange and Osceola Counties under shell corporations so as not to arouse suspicions. Throughout the year land is acquired and rumors are swirling around the counties on who might be the mysterious buyer. A female reported from the Orlando Sentinel breaks the story while on a junket to Disneyland in celebration of its tenth anniversary.

By October of 1965, Florida’s Governor, Hayden Burns confirms the reports that Disney is purchasing land in Florida. Finally, on November 15, 1965 the governor with Walt and Roy Disney hold a press conference to announce their plans on building a new resort in Central Florida.

After Walt’s untimely death from cancer on December 15, 1966, Roy takes the responsibilities of seeing his brother’s vision through and insures his legacy, by renaming the new development Walt Disney World.

With over 9,000 workers and a budget that hovered around $400 million it became the largest privately funded construction project in the world, up ’til then.

Although the park celebrated its opening on October 1, 1971 the official dedication of the park was a couple of weeks later on October 25, 1971. This soft-opening has become a key process in the development of Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts. The soft-opening allows a test-run of the facilities, to warm up the cast and guests while allowing the company the ability to refine any rough edges before the grand opening.

On opening day, there were 6 themed lands with over 20 attractions at the Magic Kingdom.  Originally, the park operated on a ticket per ride system that mirrored the same system from Disneyland in California. There were 5 types of tickets, lettered A through E with the E-Ticket attractions being the most sought after thrilling rides in the park.

The original cost of an adult’s admission to the park was $3.50. A seven-ride attraction ticket book cost $4.75 while an eleven-ride ticket book cost $5.75.

A Ticket

  • Omnibus
  • Horse Cars
  • Main St. Vehicles
  • Cinderella’s Golden Carousel

B Tickets

  • Main St. Cinema
  • Frontierland Shooting Gallery
  • Mike Fink Keel Boats
  • Swiss Family Treehouse

C Tickets

  • Grand Prix Raceway
  • Dumbo, The Flying Elephants
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Snow White’s Adventure
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes

D Tickets

  • Walt Disney World Railroad
  • Skyway to Fantasyland
  • Flight to the Moon
  • Skyway to Tomorrowland
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat

E Tickets

  • it’s a small world
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • The Jungle Cruise

Other Attractions

  • Exposition Hall
  • Mickey Mouse Revue
  • Sunshine Pavilion
  • Diamond Horseshoe Revue

Roy O. Disney dedicated the park on October 25, 1971; completing his beloved brothers work. Roy passed away less than two months later on December 20, 1971 from a stroke.

Without his dedication Walt Disney World would never have been built. As a testament to his steadfastness, you can find a wonderful statue of Roy sitting with Minnie Mouse on Main St. U.S.A., not too far from the statue of his little brother and Mickey Mouse at the hub.