10 Ways Walt Disney World Resort Has Changed Over The Years

A Walt Disney World vacation is magical no matter what attractions a guest visits, what restaurants they dine at, or which Disney Resort they stay at. With so many amazing experiences to be had, each moment is sure to be exciting on a Disney vacation. Part of what makes Walt Disney World such an amazing place to vacation in time and time again is the fact that it is ever changing. The parks, water parks, Disney Resorts, and Disney Springs are constantly changing and evolving over time introducing new experiences and entertainment for guests to enjoy. From attractions being refurbished or replaced to new dining experiences and technology being introduced, change is a constant thing in Walt Disney World. Here are ten ways that Walt Disney World has changed over the years.


10. One Park To Four Parks –

When Walt Disney World first opened in 1971 the only theme park available to guests was the Magic Kingdom. Since the park was such a success, Epcot was added in 1982 followed by Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1989 and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998. Now Walt Disney World boasts four unique theme parks and who knows how many more to come in the future!

9. New Resorts –

In addition to the Magic Kingdom opening in 1971, Walt Disney World was home to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (which was then Disney’s Polynesian Resort), and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Over the years dozens of other Disney Resorts have been constructed for guests to enjoy falling into the Deluxe, Moderate, and Value categories. The most recent resort addition in Walt Disney World is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort which allows guests to feel as though they have entered into classic Disney and Pixar films.

8. New Restaurants –

Many guests head to Walt Disney World to enjoy wonderful restaurants with amazing food, themes, and entertainment. Over the years, countless restaurants have been added to the property as new theme parks and resorts opened. One of the most recent dining additions to Walt Disney World is the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom which serves up traditional French cuisine inside of the Beast’s Castle.

7. Horizons To Mission: SPACE –

Shortly after Epcot opened to guests in 1982, an attraction was constructed which celebrated the many different possibilities of the future. Horizons opened in late 1983 and brought guests through a series of scenes depicting technology and innovation that would make the future easy. Like many other attractions in Disney history, Horizons closed its doors in 1999 to make way for the thrilling Mission: SPACE. The current attraction opened in 2003 and invites guests into the International Space Training Center to embark on a daring adventure to the red planet.

6. New Fantasyland –

The largest expansion that has taken place to date in Walt Disney World occurred in the rear of the Magic Kingdom and brought classic fairy tales and Disney characters to life. New Fantasyland introduced attractions like Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid alongside dining locations like Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern. Nearly doubling the size of the original Fantasyland, New Fantasyland is an amazing place for guests to explore.


5. Disney Springs –

A great place for guests to head to in Walt Disney World to relax and have some fun was Downtown Disney. The area featured plenty of shopping locations, dining opportunities, and even Pleasure Island which boasted nightclubs like The Adventurer’s Club. Eventually Pleasure Island was shut down and Downtown Disney was renamed Disney Springs. Disney Springs still features amazing places to shop and dine and is a must do experience on a Walt Disney World vacation.

4. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride To The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh –

When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, a popular attraction in Fantasyland was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Guests boarded cars manned by the crazy toad and took to the streets causing havoc and running into plenty of things. There were two distinct tracks for the attraction but both culminated with guests ended up driving through hell! Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was closed in 1988 to make way for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which takes guests into the Hundred Acre Woods with familiar characters like Tigger and Piglet.

3. Snow White’s Scary Adventures To Princess Fairytale Hall –

Another opening day attraction in the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland was Snow White’s Scary Adventures. The attraction brought guests through scenes from the classic Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and allowed them to watch Snow White fall in love with her prince all over again. The attraction closed in 2012 to make room for Princess Fairytale Hall where guests can meet Princesses like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty.

2. New Special Effects –

Since Walt Disney World opened in 1971, there have been amazing advances in both technology and special effects. New attractions and experiences over the years have demonstrated the new effects, but classic attractions have also been updated with new features that enhance the story for guests. A great example of new technology being used to introduce new special effects in a classic attraction is the Haunted Mansion. Constance the Bride has been updated to look even more murderous and special effects have enhanced Madame Leota including her new tombstone just outside the entrance doors on which her eyes open to stare at guests.

1. No More Skyway –

One of the most noticeable differences in a Walt Disney World park over the years was the removal of the Skyway in the Magic Kingdom. The attraction opened with the park in 1971 and featured gondola style cars which moved back and forth from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland high in the sky. The Skyway was closed in 1999 and the Fantasyland station was transformed into the Rapunzel bathroom area that guests can enjoy today.

About Caitlin Kane

Caitlin Kane first started visiting Walt Disney World when she was two years old, and despite spending most of that trip quarantined with the chicken pox she managed to fall in love with the place. Visiting WDW every year since, she especially loves learning all about the history and small details of the parks and eating/drinking her way through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival each fall. When she's not in Disney, Caitlin lives in New York and spends her time counting down the days to her next trip.