The Evolution of Disney

Share Button

Guest Author Sunday

The Disney Gals Welcome

Guest Author Cherrie West

Evolution of the Disney Experience

Can you believe that this October marked the 41st anniversary of the grand opening of Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando? Since that time, Disneyworld has become the most iconic family amusement park in the world. Of course, much has changed in the years since visitors had their first meet and greets with Mickey and Minnie and took their first rides on Cinderella’s Golden Carousel and the Mad Tea Party.

Disney World 1976
Photo courtesy of:

Park Mania

Disney World 1976
Photo courtesy of:

It’s hard to imagine Walt Disneyworld Resort as anything but the mega complex of parks and hotels it has become. But when it opened to visitors on October 1, 1971, Disneyworld had just one park (Magic Kingdom) and two hotels—Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Magic Kingdom had just twenty-three attractions, the majority of which were replicas of rides at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. Many of Magic Kingdom’s star attractions were added later on: Pirates of the Caribbean (1973), Space Mountain (1975), and Splash Mountain (1992).

 Of course, Disneyworld Orlando has since added three theme parks to its collection –Epcot (1982), Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios, ’89), and Animal Kingdom (’98)—as well as two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon (’89) and Blizzard Beach (’95).

 Disney Goes International

 In addition to its resort in Orlando and its park in Anaheim, Disney has successfully opened resorts in three international locations. The first was Disney Tokyo, which opened in Japan in 1983 and has since expanded to include the hugely successful nautical-themed Tokyo DisneySea, which has the distinction of being the fastest theme park to reach 10 million guests. Disneyland Paris (formerly Euro Disney Resort) was the next to open in 1992, and is easily accessible from major cities via the Eurostar’s trains in Europe. Finally, Disney opened the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort in 2005.

Disneyland Paris
Photo courtesy of:

 Meet and Greet

 For the little ones, the most coveted tradition of a visit to any Disney theme park is the chance to meet and greet their favorite characters. While you’ll still find old school Disney favorites hanging around Magic Kingdom—Mickey, Minnie, and the gang, Snow White, Cinderella, and Tinker Bell—there are a number of new faces signing photographs and snapping pictures around the parks. You sure wouldn’t have seen Sully from Monsters, Inc. or Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story hanging around the original parks, but they’ve become some of the kids’ favorite characters. Of course, you also wouldn’t have needed a FastPass ticket to meet Mickey (that trend started in 2011), so not all change is good.
Photo courtesy of:

 What the Future Holds

 If there’s one thing we know about Disney, it’s that the company is always innovating and evolving. As such, there are several expansions in the pipeline for both the domestic and international parks. The first is the long-awaited expansion of Fantasyland, the biggest expansion in the 41-year history of Magic Kingdom. Storybook Circus—which includes a revamped Dumbo the Flying Elephant Ride—is already open; the new Enchanted Forest will open December 6 of this year and will include Ariel’s underwater grotto and a massive Beauty and the Beast inspired Be Our Guest restaurant. Additional attractions in Fantasyland will open next year.

On the international front, Disney has broken ground on a new resort in Shanghai, which is expected to open in late 2015/early 2016.


  1. Cherrie, Welcome!! Love the article and the photo, how many memories. Thank you for sharing with us and hope you write for us again soon.

Leave a Reply