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These Fun Old Photos Show The Early Days Of The Most Magical Place On Earth

In 1971, Florida got the gift of Disney with Walt Disney World Resort being built outside Orlando. Take a look at moments from the first days of its existence.

Posted on October 1, 2021, at 10:33 a.m. ET

Crowds watch a parade on Main Street at Walt Disney World Resort
Jonathan Blair / Corbis via Getty Images

Crowds at Main Street of Disney World, 1972.

On Oct. 1, 1971, Walt Disney World Resort opened its magical gates for the first time to tourists in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The ticket price for admission was $3.50, or $24 in today's money. Disney's main character, Mickey, was already 43 years old, Disneyland in California had been open for 16 years, and Walt Disney himself had died five years prior in 1966. The Florida resort and theme park started with the Magic Kingdom and would grow over time to include EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

These photos show the early days of Disney World in Florida.


Two men dressed in suits - one the governor of Florida and the other Roy Disney - hold a press conference to announce the opening of Disney in Florida
AP Photo

Florida Gov. Claude Kirk, left, reacts during a news conference in which Roy Disney, right, made public for the first time a new Disney World complex before hundreds of travel editors and Florida business people in February 1967.

Disney's construction manager is seen in a suit pointing towards a field where Disney World would be built
Jim Kerlin / AP

Joe Fowler, 75, a retired Navy admiral who was senior vice president for engineering and construction of Disney, points out the spot being prepared for the Disney World project near Orlando, Florida, in 1969.

An open landscape view of construction site for Disney World with a castle in the middle
AP Photo

This general view shows Walt Disney World, with Cinderella Palace in the Magic Kingdom at the center, under construction near Orlando, Florida, in 1971.

An architectural view of a hotel and train line under construction
Sds / AP

Monorail tracks and concrete pilings lead into a contemporary hotel under construction at Walt Disney World in July 1971.

A young father holds his son outside the castle at Walt Disney Resort
Steve Starr / AP

William Windsor Jr. and his son, who slept in their car to be the first into the park, walk past Cinderella's Castle as Disney World opened in October 1971.

Julie Andrews performs a dance in the street at Disney World
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Julie Andrews (center) performs on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom for the grand opening of Walt Disney World Resort.

Mickey Mouse stands between two females who hold his hands for a photo
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Mickey Mouse poses with Disney World cast members in October 1971.

Disney characters are seen walking in a parade for bystanders to celebrate the opening of Disney World
AP Photo

Walt Disney World has its grand opening dedication ceremony with a parade down Main Street in October 1971.

Donald Duck is seen reaching for a real live duck from a guest at Disney World
AP Photo

Donald Duck greets Daphne Duck at Walt Disney World in October 1972 as she is given to Donald by Connie Harmon of Eastern Airlines, who flew Daphne and her buddy Donald (a hybrid mallard live duck) to Disney World from Belmont, Massachusetts.

A candid view of Disney characters behind the scenes getting into a shuttle at Disney World
Jonathan Blair / Corbis via Getty Images

Disney characters behind the scenes in Utilidor, 1972.

Disney characters and tourists fill a street in a parade
Jonathan Blair / Corbis via Getty Images

Tourists and Disney characters fill Main Street in a celebratory parade, 1972.

Three children enjoy a ride at Disney World with Goofy the Disney character
Jonathan Blair / Corbis via Getty Images

Goofy rides the Mad Tea Party Ride with children in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, August 1972.

Hundreds of people queue in a line to enter Disney World
Jonathan Blair / Corbis via Getty Images

Eager crowds wait in line at Disney World, 1972.

Cinderella's Castle lit up at night and reflected in an artificial stream at Disney World
Ray Fisher / Getty Images

Cinderella's Castle lit up at night and reflected in an artificial stream at Disney World in 1971.




A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.