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From Barren Swampland to Walt Disney World in 60 Incredible Photos

Disney's Animal Kingdom

A combination of a zoo and a theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom is enormous. Disney's own website claims that the park covers either 500 acres or 403 acres. More than 4 million trees, plants, shrubs, vines, grasses and more from every contintent on Earth (except Antarctica) were planted during the construction of the park.


The iconic Tree of Life was topped with more than 103,000 leaves, each of which was individually placed on 8,692 branches. It took 10 artists and three Imagineers around 18 months to create the 325 animals carved into the tree. The sculptors had around 6-10 hours to produce the final image before the plaster hardened.

Tree of Life construction

Disney's Animal Kingdom construction (1)

Disney's Animal Kingdom construction (2)

Dino Institute construction

Theater in the Wild construction


Tree of Life

Kilimanjaro Safaris


Expedition Everest:

Dominating the Asia area of the park, Expedition Everest was opened in 2006. Designed to fill a thrill ride-shaped hole in Disney's Animal Kingdom's line-up, it has proven to be immensely popular.

The Forbidden Mountain was created using 5,000 tons of structural steel and 10,000 tons of concrete. A rigid steel structure holds the mountain in place. More than 2,000 gallons of stain and paint were used on the mountain's rockwork and the buildings in the village.

To recreate the lowlands surrounding Mount Everest, more than 900 bamboo plants, 10 species of trees and 110 species of shrubs were planted.


Expedition Everest construction (1)

Expedition Everest construction (4)


Expedition Everest (5)

Blizzard Beach:

The 60-acre Disney's Blizzard Beach water park opened in 1995, with the enormous Mt. Gushmore at its heart.


Blizzard Beach construction

Blizzard Beach construction (2)


Blizzard Beach

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There are 15 comments.

wow what a great write up that was and to see some old pics of then and now love it

I believe the third photo under Spaceship Earth is actually World of Motion.

I believe you're right. Removed for now.

It isn't. It definitely is Space Mountain. Just look at the foreground, and you'll see Cinderella Castle. You wouldn't see the castle at Epcot.

It isn't. Just look at the Background and you can see Cinderella Castle. You wouldn't see the castle at Epcot

Wow! Thank you for sharing! It's great to see how wdw all started!! So amazing!!

I loved looking at these pics. brings back memories, my husband was working out there as a crane operator, heavy equip operator, his dad was an ironworker as were his two brothers that I can recall, they were ironworkers. when the park opened for the vips, when it was done, I was there with my husband and his d ad and his brothers, and they all pointed out different items, or areas etc that they had worked on and it was very kool to see the different ironwork that was made into railings and my father in law and brothers in law were very involved in this as was my husband with the crane., and heavy equipment.. very very nice presentation and it did bring back alot of memories from the 70's now my two kids are working at disney .. Isnt life strange, how things go round in a circle sort of and some back to u!!

Love looking at construction photos of Disney World. May I recommend the popular Disney Avenue blog for their popular "Making of" articles for more construction photos like these. Great article!!! The link is

Absolutely. Disney Avenue is a fantastic website.

Thanks, as is Theme Park Tourist, its one of our favorites and we will be adding it to our list of recommended sites!

Hi i am a visitor from the UK and I will just say you never grow up Disney is just great.

Great article. One request which others might appreciate also: when possible, be more specific in your photo citations. For example, if I want to find a specific photo you have here credited to Tom Simpson's Flickr site, I have to wade through his 3,000+ untagged, barely organized pile of photos to get to it. A link straight to the actual photo would be awesome!

Otherwise, keep up the great work! I visit your site many times a week.


Great article with some great photos!!!

Very cool. (Correct the bold heading "Spash Mountain" to "Splash.").

Absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. My first time to the Disney World parks was in 2000. Ever Since, I have been to all the parks hundreds of times. I'm just amazed how it all came together. Fascinated with the history of Disney. I have already been to MK 3 times this week. :) it's crazy, but I love it. Thanks again.


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