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The History of Disney Theme Parks...in 130 Classic Photos

26. Magic Kingdom opens at Walt Disney World (1971)

Magic Kingdom

Image © Disney

The Magic Kingdom opens at Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971. On October 25, Roy Disney joins Mickey Mouse to dedicate the park. He dies just two months later.

27. Bear Country opens at Disneyland (1972)

Country Bear Jamboree

Bear Country replaces Disneyland's Indian Village. It brings with it the first clone of an attraction at the Magic Kingdom - Disneyland's own version of the Country Bear Jamboree.

28. Pirates of the Caribbean opens at the Magic Kingdom (1973)

Pirates of the Caribbean

Image © Disney

The first major expansion to the Magic Kingdom was set to be the Western River Expedition, a major attraction in Frontierland. However, guests complained so frequently that there was no clone of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean at the park that management opted to cancel those plans and install a version of the popular boat ride instead.

29. Space Mountain construction at the Magic Kingdom (1974)

Space Mountain

The popularity of the Magic Kingdom with teens and young adults led to Imagineers rushing to design thrill rides for the park. A clone of Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds was considered, but ultimately a space-themed roller coaster (based on an idea from Walt Disney before his death) was installed instead.

30. Treasure Island opens at Walt Disney World (1974)

Treasure Island

Image via Marcio Disney

Located in Walt Disney World's Bay Lake, Discovery Island first opened to the public in April 1974 as Treasure Island. It was designed to be a wildlife observation attraction, and was renamed after being designated as a zoological park.

31. Space Mountain opens at the Magic Kingdom (1975)

Space Mountain

Image via Pinterest

The first Space Mountain opens at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom on January 15, 1975, offering an indoor roller coaster ride in the dark.

32. Disney's River Country water park opens (1976)

Disney's River Country

Image © Disney

Back in 1976, Walt Disney World was short on attractions to keep guests on-site for more than a day or two. The only theme park at that stage was the Magic Kingdom, and EPCOT Center would not open until 1982. To add to its roster, the resort installed its first ever water park: Disney's River Country.

Located near Discovery Island on the shore of Bay Lake, River Country boasted a rustic "wilderness" theme. The theming was heavy on rocks and boulders, and was designed to resemble an "old-fashioned swimming hole".

33. Space Mountain opens at Disneyland (1977)

Space Mountain
Image © Disney

Disneyland opens its own version of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. It is smaller than the Magic Kingdom's version, and does not feature the same dual-track design.

34. EPCOT Center construction begins (1979)

Spaceship Earth construction

After years of speculation, Disney finally begins working on the construction of EPCOT at Walt Disney World. However, Walt's plan for a working city is dropped in favor of a second theme park that will effectively become a permanent World's Fair.

35. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad construction at Magic Kingdom (1979)

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad construction

Image: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Despite the work on EPCOT Center, Disney is keen to maintain interest in the Magic Kingdom. Although it will open after Disneyland's version, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was first designed for the park. The enormous structure required 650 tons of steel, 4,675 tons of "mud" and more than 9,000 gallons of paint to construct.

36. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opens at Disneyland (1979)

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Image © Disney

In September 1979, Disneyland welcomes the first version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - the "wildest ride in the wilderness".

37. Tokyo Disneyland groundbreaking (1980)

Tokyo Disneyland

Construction work commences on Tokyo Disneyland, the first Disney theme park that will not be owned by Disney itself. Instead, the virtual clone of the Magic Kingdom will be owned and operated by the Oriental Land Company.

38. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opens at the Magic Kingdom (1980)

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Image © Disney

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opens at the Magic Kingdom. It is essentially a mirror image of the Disneyland version, but is 25 percent larger.

39. Construction work on Tokyo Disney Resort (1981)

Space Mountain

Full construction work on Tokyo Disneyland begins in April 1981, including work on a clone of Space Mountain.

40. Disneyland passport introduced (1982)

Disneyland Passport

Disneyland abolishes the pay-per-ride A-E Ticket system in favor of the $12 Disneyland Passport, a new pay-one-price system. The same system is introduced at EPCOT Center and the Magic Kingdom - and the Passport above could actually be used at any of the three Disney parks in the US.

41. EPCOT Center opens at Walt Disney World (1982)

EPCOT Center

Image © Disney

On October 1, 1982, EPCOT Center opens as Walt Disney World's second theme park. The park is divided into two main sections: Future World (which showcases future technologies) and World Showcase (which features pavilions dedicated to nations from around the world).

42. New Fantasyland opens at Disneyland (1983)

New Fantasyland
Image © Disney

The original Fantasyland at Disneyland was built on a limited budget, and there was always a plan to update it later on. This finally happened in 1983 during a period of unprecedented expansion at Disney parks, with Pinocchio's Daring Journey (a version of which had already opened at Tokyo Disneyland) being the headline new ride.

43. Journey into Imagination opens (1983)

Journey into Imagination

Image © Disney

The original version of the Journey into Imagination ride opens at EPCOT Center, becoming one of the park's most popular attractions.

44. Tokyo Disneyland opens (1983)

Tokyo Disneyland

Image © Disney / Oriental Land Company

On April 15, 1983, the first Disney theme park to be located outside the United States opens in Japan.

45. A new era (1984)

Eisner and Wells

Image © Disney

Following the arrival of Michael Eisner as Disney CEO and Frank Wells as Chairman, prices begin to rise rapidly at the company's theme parks. The price of a single-day Disneyland ticket hits $56, compared to $12 just two years earlier.

46. Morocco Pavilion opens at EPCOT Center (1984)

Morocco Pavilion

In September 1984, the Morocco Pavilion becomes one of the first additions to the World Showcase line-up at EPCOT Center.

47. Disney-MGM Studios announced (1985)

Disney-MGM Studios

Image © Disney via Jim Hill Media

At his first shareholders meeting in February 1985, Michael Eisner announces plans to construct Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World. This will combine a working movie studio and a theme park. Eisner is immediately accused of stealing plans from Universal's parent company MCA, which is planning its own studio theme park in Orlando.

48. Living Seas Pavilion opens at EPCOT Center (1986)

Living Seas construction

Image © Disney

An enormous budget of $90-million made The Living Seas Pavilion the most expensive attraction ever built at a Disney park when it opened in 1986. Its star attraction was an enormous aquarium that held some 5.7 million gallons of water. It took 22 months to construct, with 12,000 cubic yards of concrete and 900 tons of reinforcing steel being used to build the tank. The rest of the pavilion consumed 8,000 cubic yards of conrete and 850 tons of structural steel. The recipe for the artificial saltwater called for 27 truckloads of common table salt.

The Living Seas was designed to compete with nearby SeaWorld Orlando, but the rival park actualy saw an increase in attendance in 1986.

49. Captain EO opens at Disneyland (1986)

Captain EO

Michael Eisner, recognising that Disney's own live-action and animation movie output had been weak in the years prior to his arrival, instituted a policy of collaborating with outside companies and individuals on new theme park attractions. The result of one of these collaborations was Captain EO, a "4-D" musical show starring Michael Jackson. Clones of the attraction are installed at EPCOT Center and Tokyo Disneyland.

50. Typhoon Lagoon construction begins (1987)

Typhoon Lagoon

Image © Disney

Eager to compete with nearby Wet 'n Wild, Eisner greenlights the construction of a second, larger water park at Walt Disney World - Typhoon Lagoon.

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There are 2 comments.

WOW!

The Park Theater was in Winter Park FL not Winter Haven!!!

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